You’ve put together a show-stopping trade show display, booked that premium convention floor real estate and primed your top talent for their big debut. If you think you’re done with the trade show preparation, think again. The fact of the matter is that you can do everything right according to industry best practices and still completely falter in your events marketing strategy if you don’t properly promote. You need to get the word out that you’ll be exhibiting so that you generate high levels of foot traffic from the jump. And we all know that the booths that seem to be buzzing are the ones that close the most deals!
With all of this in mind, knowing how to promote is just as important as knowing what to promote. Make sure that you include two categories of information in your trade show promotions—vital information (such as where your booth will be located and your booth number) and your best-selling value propositions. Promote anything that might draw in a crowd, such as promotional freebies, free food and drinks, special discounts, drawings or anything else that might make an attendee want to make a beeline straight to your booth.
The Best Pre-Show Promo Methods
Now that you know exactly what to promote, here are some ways you can generate the buzz before you even unroll your banners.
1. Blast it on Social Media—There’s almost no marketing channel that’s quite as useful as social media. In fact, the majority of event planners (74 percent) cite it as the most effective tool for event marketing. It caters to your hub of customers, potential customers, fans, employees, colleagues and more people who actually care about what you’re doing business-wise. Bonus points for the fact that it’s free. Not only should you promote your booth before the show, you should promote it during the show using the event’s hashtags so you’re findable by attendees and event organizers.
2. Work it Into Your Email Campaign—Email marketing is ranked number two (second to social media) as the top most effective promotional tool for event marketers. It’s an easy way to send the message to everyone who regularly interfaces with your business digitally but who may want to get some real facetime. Follow email marketing best practices and send messages a week before and a day before the event. The day of the event, send an email with core info, like where your booth is located and the times you’ll be exhibiting.
3. Leverage Your Giveaways—You wouldn’t dare show up at an industry event or trade show sans swag. And that’s smart, since 85 percent of people do business with companies after receiving their promotional products. You should be playing up your promotional freebies throughout the entire trade show process, first by announcing your giveaways through your social and email campaigns and then by promoting them with the appropriate trade show banners and signage. Trust us—no one says no to free stuff!
4. Promote Special Booth Features—Swag isn’t the only good way to get people pumped up about your display. You can also entice them into your space by offering something they want. In the case of the exhausting, never-ending industry conference or trade show, that often means a comfy place to sit down and relax. Create a welcoming respite in your trade show booth with comfortable chairs, a small workspace for checking emails and maybe even complimentary refreshments. Let attendees know that they can always swing by your booth if they need to take a break from the chaos.
5. Become an Event Sponsor—Sure, it will cost you to become an official event sponsor, but there’s almost no substitute if you’re looking for the best way to make your presence known as the event date approaches. The companies that opt to sponsor receive unparalleled marketing opportunity, with their logos, websites and information displayed prominently on all pre-event correspondence. Perhaps the best part about this strategy is that your company’s info could be placed on the event website, which will certainly see major spikes in traffic leading up to the event.
6. Run a Targeted Digital Ads Campaign—One of the greatest things about paid digital advertising is that it allows you to get amazingly specific with who you target. This means that you get a bigger ROI from every dollar spent (businesses make an average of $2 in income for each $1 they spend with Google Ads) and that you can market your advertisements to people who are already interested in the conference. Promote your business and specific information about your exhibit plans by targeting those who use Google to search for the event or who have interacted with the event page on Facebook.
7. Book Appointments Beforehand—The weeks leading up to the event, allow your sales team to begin setting up appointments and demos with attendees, either by reaching out to them directly or by promoting that you’re accepting appointments. One of the best ways you can fill your days at trade shows is by offering an incentive for those who agree to sit down to hear your pitch or try out a demo. Market that you’ll provide exclusive discounts or special promotional giveaways to those who schedule a time slot before the event.
Make the Most Out of Your Event
Trade show marketing is a process that begins the moment you register your booth and doesn’t end until your final lead closes a deal. At each and every point on the journey, you need to be sure you’re doing everything you can to get people talking about your company and working hard to generate buzz. If you invest in a good pre-event marketing strategy, you can be sure you’ll start the event off on the right foot and maintain steady interest long after you’ve packed up and headed home.
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