Trade shows and other live events offer an exciting way to get your products and name in front of your ideal audience. Face to face meetings of this nature provides astounding ROI, not only in new business leads but in vertical partnerships and other types of business connections that can promote growth and expansion.
In a study by CEIR, “99% of marketers said they found unique value from trade shows they did not get from other marketing mediums.” While the value in exhibiting is undeniable, businesses won’t garner the full potential from the event without a trade show promotion strategy. Your efforts should hit the ground well before the event so that you can not only reach the maximum number of prospects, but get them excited about visiting with your brand. Ahead, we share strategies to help guide your pre-show marketing efforts.
Pre-Trade Show Preparation — Finding Your Target Audience
In order to create the best promotional strategy, you first need a clear picture of who you want to connect with at the event. This process starts with the larger picture: are you targeting other businesses or consumers? From there, you can develop a buyer persona that will serve as your baseline when creating personalized content that converts.
Information to include in your buyer persona:
- Age range
- Primary gender (male, female, or both?)
- Position in company
- Education level
Once you know who your buyer is, it’s time to understand their wants and how they operate. Criteria to identify in the buyer’s persona include their goals and pain points, research sources, conversation preferences, personality, and any oppositions they will likely have with your pitch.
A B2C buyer persona often focuses on a personal pain point, something that bothers them or something in their life that you can make easier. A buyer persona for B2B marketing will often include pain points that relate to their company’s productivity or efficiency. Here’s an example of what your B2B buyer persona’s criteria might look like:
- Goals and pain points – Boost company revenue by 10%
- Research sources – Online research by employees, industry reports, and white papers
- Conversation preferences – Emails between normal business hours that are directed to the appropriate contact
- Personality – Open to meeting with a new vendor so long as the information is relevant and provides value
- Oppositions – “It will take a lot of time and resources to implement your service. How will we know it’s going to work?”
A thoroughly researched buyer persona will empower you to create the most effective marketing content strategy ahead of the event. Next, ask yourself about your desired event outcome.
Pre-Trade Show Marketing — What’s Your Purpose?
Your motivation behind attending a specific trade show will help you develop the most productive strategy to achieve your goals. Before moving forward with your pre-show marketing push, make sure that you’ve developed a trade show plan that sets attainable goals. Are you attending to help bolster brand recognition or to convert immediate sales? Is your focus to position your company as a thought leader in the industry? Are you using the event to connect with existing customers or to generate new business?
These are all solid motivating factors. Your main goal will help you determine the right pre-show promotional messaging. It will also help your trade show partner develop a smartly-designed exhibit that supports your efforts.
Now that you know your target audience and event purpose, you can finalize and deploy your pre-promotion strategy.
Developing the Best Pre-Trade Show Marketing Strategy
Having a clear understanding of your buyer persona and content marketing strategy early is key to maximizing your results. Use your findings to create a plan that effectively reaches your target audience. “Companies see the best results when the pre-show promotion message is consistent and engaging and when campaigns are deployed on multiple platforms,” says Carlos Miro, Director of Sales.
- Send a series of emails with your marketing message (refer to your buyer persona to determine message frequency and tone)
- Ensure your messaging points are clear and include a call-to-action
- Share in-booth promotions to motivate user action
- Include social media links to encourage engagement
- “Don’t forget to add the show name & booth number to email signature,” says Liz Harper, Director of Account Management.
- Update each channel’s profile image to show your event participation
- Create a custom hashtag your company will use before, during, and after the event
- Pin a post to the top of your Facebook and LinkedIn business accounts announcing your company’s event attendance so it’s the first thing visitors of your page see
- Plan to share teaser announcements and updates starting 6 weeks before the event, increasing post frequency as the event draws closer
Mollie Stahl, Senior Account Executive says, “Social media is one of the biggest platforms a company has to promote event participation. Posts should always include the show name, tagging the event and using show hashtags, and should emphasize the special things they planned such as giveaways or teasing a big company announcement.” To further the message reach, she recommends that companies take the time to post in industry group pages that they are a part of on LinkedIn, too.
- Include details on where show attendees can find you, like your booth number
- Promote giveaways and special offers
- Share news of any exciting in-booth attractions, such as games or contests
“I really think advertising any games you are planning drives immediate interest in your booth space,” says Lance Newton, Senior Account Manager. “I recently had a client that rented a real-life race car game in their booth and advertised it ahead of time. It was a hit — people want to have a little fun while being at these shows.”
Align Marketing and Sales Team Efforts
The most successful businesses connect sales and marketing teams well in advance of the event date. Matt Kleinrock, COO explains, “Before going into a trade show, your marketing and sales teams need to be on the same page – fully understanding and reaching for the same goals in order to be successful. If both teams are not communicating who to target and promote to, or if your teams have not aligned on a well-developed and mutual game plan for show day, your efforts can suffer from lack of continuity.”
Tactics sales teams should implement prior to a trade show include:
- Informing current clients of your company’s event attendance
- Reaching out to warm leads and encourage them to stop by
- Making an effort to book meetings with prospects and media outlets covering the show
- Sharing any special promotions planned during the event
- Answering any prospect questions, and informing the marketing team of ways to improve pre-promotion performance
- Working with the PR team to create a press release about your attendance to reach audience members who aren’t already in your immediate network
Additionally, it’s wise to create an event landing page on your website that prospects can refer to when they’re looking for information about what you’ll be exhibiting. Include a form where interested parties can reach out, ask questions, and schedule meetings.
Enlist the Help of a Full-Service Exhibit Partner
Having an understanding of your company’s objectives and target audience isn’t only beneficial for your pre-promotion strategy. These factors should be shared with your trade show booth builder so they can design a space that will engage attendees and, in turn, help you achieve your exhibiting goals. At Rockway Exhibits + Events, we design and build high-quality exhibits and event spaces that inspire audiences to take action. From concept all the way to completion, we strive to provide an ideal event experience where you can exhibit more and worry less. We’d love to hear about your next project — contact us to learn more about our full-service trade show solutions.