In the run up to a trade show, how much time does your company spend on pre-show marketing efforts?
For most firms, the answer is zero.
Statistics vary by show and industry, but on average, only 10 to 15 percent of trade show exhibitors invest in pre-marketing before a trade show.
On a very basic level, pre-show marketing simply is reaching out to your customers prior to a trade show. Why is this important? It alerts your customers to the fact that you will be at the trade show and they should visit you.
Pre-show marketing often is tied to an incentive, but it should first be tied to information. There are some great places to start by passively marketing your upcoming trade show or exhibit:
· A banner added temporarily to your website that asks people to visit you, naming the show and you booth number
· Inexpensive stickers noting the show name, date and your booth number affixed to all mailings to customers the month prior to the show
· If you are a company with a lot of customer foot traffic, consider setting up a banner stand or a portion of your exhibit in a high-traffic area, with a sign telling people about the upcoming trade show. Set out a coupon or item that can be brought to the trade show to be traded in for a special offer/incentive.
On a more formal level, pre-show marketing can also include traditional and digital forms of direct marketing. Why are these efforts still important? Humans are visual and tactile beings: sending them something that they can hold, touch and see is a very effective means for getting a message across.
All pre-show marketing should always include all pertinent show information: The name of the show, the date and location, your booth number and any other necessary information.
Effective, traditional pre-show marketing can take a variety of forms. Here are some common examples:
· An inexpensive, colorful postcard
· Targeted micro campaign mailing pieces – do something special for your top prospects
· A mailer with free tickets or passes to the show
· An invite not just to the show, but to a lunch, dinner or hospitality event hosted by your sales team for qualified leads
When your budget allows, it’s always a better idea to use a custom-designed piece rather than a cookie-cutter design. Some companies specialize in low-cost, readymade collateral. The downside? Everyone sends these out, and your message gets lost in the mailbox.
Pre-show marketing often includes incentives, and these should be deployed judiciously. A tiered system of incentives for booth visitors typically is the most effective, with the top tier reserved for top prospects who visit your booth and something simple and small for others who stop by. An even better approach, if allowed by your trade show, is to skip the lower-tier incentives completely and just provide something less tangible that everyone can appreciate, from coffee or other non-alcoholic drinks to a comfortable place to sit and charge a phone. It’s much more effective to invest in qualified leads than to blanket attendees with inexpensive trinkets.
The most memorable incentives stand out for being unique and functional. Consider a quality over quantity approach: Use pre-show marketing materials to get the right people to your booth. Reward them with higher quality incentives that are useful and functional rather than simply something novel to be displayed. That isn’t to say that these items don’t work, but they need to be truly exceptional and unusual to have their intended effect.
Do you have questions about preshow marketing that you’d like answered in a future article? Or are you seeking assistance on what you can do for an upcoming trade show? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you craft an effective pre-show marketing campaign as part of your face-to-face marketing efforts.