Event marketing – gain trade show success

Exhibiting at a trade show is a lot more than just turning up with a pop up banner and handing out a few flyers. Trade shows are busy places. There are lights, sounds and action everywhere and somewhere in the middle of all this white noise is YOUR stand. You have to stand out, attract footfall and be memorable. 

Here are my top tips for event marketing techniques to ensure that YOUR stand is the one event delegates drop in on and remember long after the event. 

TIP 1 - Start with an end in mind

Purpose: It might seem obvious, but you really have to think about why you are exhibiting and what a successful exhibition looks like for you. It takes a considerable investment for any size of business to exhibit at a trade show; from stand space and visual aids to travel and accommodation for the company representative(s) etc. So define your objectives in accordance to the SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bounded); and these will help you evaluate event’s success afterwards.

Evaluating ROI: Event’s success can be measured in many ways, for example: leads gained, newsletter sign-ups, orders taken, or new followers on social media would be more tangible. However, less tangible objectives, such as brand-building and awareness creation, are equally valid all be it more subjectively measured. 

TIP 2 - Plan in advance on how you will use the space

Your stand will be the showcase for your presence and you will be competing for attendees’ attention. Intensive planning in the lead up to the event is essential. The few key things to consider include:

  • Location: Most events will have a floorplan and if you plan far enough in advance, you should have a reasonable choice of where your stand will be located. Go for a spot with the maximum visibility and footfall, such as on the way to, or in visibility of, a refreshment area or main entrance. If held in conjunction with a conference, make sure you’re located en-route to the conference hall where presentations are taking place.
    • Display: Consider if you need a table or a laptop stand and how (or if) you will display any leaflets or giveaways, plan to take more than you need so you don’t run out. Keep messages brief, images visually striking and relevant around your stand – this will ensure your overall message is clear and high impact.

    • Housekeeping: Keep your stand looking tidy. Keep those cables, handbags and other distractions such a phone of sight (focus on where you are and what your goals are) and try not to sit down. Research shows that people are less likely to approach you if they see you on your phone or sitting down. And if you do have a table on your stand, try not to stand behind it (as if you were at a counter selling sweets). Instead stand just to the side in front of it – which is much more welcoming.

    • Incentives: Having space (and budget) to include seating, a coffee machine or a smoothie maker will make you more attractive than your less appealing neighbour.

TIP 3 - Consider publicity opportunities

Paid for vs complimentary: often exhibition organisers will offer promotional opportunities for the show exhibitors. These can be items in the delegate bags, features in event newsletters, advertisement slots on event website, in the programme and even carpet tiles on the exhibition floor.

As with everything though, some opportunities will be better suited to your business than others, so you really have to weigh up what you want to gain from these. For example, the cost of a 1,000 discount vouchers could be easily outweighed by the higher number of visitors to your stand.

Free: Announcements to your customers via digital marketing tools won’t cost much and in some instances can be free. Tell them what you are doing, why and where; and encourage participation by offering a special incentive. Perhaps a downloadable money off voucher that they can print and bring to your on the stand. So simple, but yet super effective when you are trying to measure the success of a promotional campaign.

TIP 4 - Make it fun

Interactivity: Perhaps it is a no-brainer for a school fair, but there is no reason why you couldn’t inject a bit of fun to a business event. Interactive features, such as live product demonstrations, seminars, games, competitions and even a photo booth are good ice-breakers and encourage visitors to engage with you. On the exhibition floor delegates work ‘like bees to honey’. So consider what could be the equivalent to honey for your target audience and you are sure to draw them in. 

Click Here for some really exciting ideas to get even the most tech savvy users to have a go and interact with your brand.

Data capture: If you are running a competition, special offer, or have any giveaways, tie these into any fun activity you are doing also. Use this as a way to incentivise potential customers to provide you with their contact details. When collecting new customer data, be mindful of GDPR regulations: visitors need to be clear on what you’re collecting their data for, how it will be used and how long you will keep it. Data should only be kept as long as it is needed, must be accurate and held securely.

Good coffee at the tradeshow

TIP 5 - Enjoy it and be social

Everyone can join in: It doesn’t matter if you are a small or big company, events can be very profitable and are a great ‘physical’ marketing tool. It’s a chance for you to demonstrate all your strengths and physically meet with past, present and future clients.

Open all hours: Tag, comment and share on any relevant posts from the trade show venue, organisers or fellow exhibitors (those who are not your direct competitors). Tag your company and be sure to mention your stand number. Regular updates on what you will be showcasing or how excited you are about the event will draw more attention to your channels in the lead up to the event.

Incentivise, incentivise, and incentivise: If you are having any interactive features, such as a photo or a video booth, be sure the customers are incentivised to post something on their social channels and tag your company also.

End of event doesn’t have to mean end of your efforts to make the most of it: Although updates during the event might be unlikely (especially if you are alone on the stand) be sure to post something first thing in the morning and also after the exhibition door has closed. Post event, you can also thank everyone who came to see you and what a great show it was with a link to your show offers.

TIP 6 - Post-event follow up cannot be underestimated

After a busy day or two of talking with dozens of your potential customers, interacting with them once you are back in the office might seem like the last thing you need to be doing. However, that is the wrong approach and here is why…

Step back and imagine your customer’s journey. From preparing to go to the show, to meeting you there along with many other exhibitors – they leave with aching feet and a bag full of leaflets or pens. What should they do now? Would you rather:

    • They figure out for themselves in the time that is convenient to them OR
    • Your email pops up saying “It was great to meet you at the XXXX show. Here is what we’ve talked about and how to find out more. Don’t forget the special offer runs out XXXX. If you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to ask and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

The second option not only gives you a chance to remind them of who you are and emphasise your key messages again, but puts a call to action with a time limit on it, plus saves the customer trying to find your contact details! Just think – you’ve taken all that effort out for them and put it on a plate (in one email) in front of them. All is left for them to do now is click a few buttons or pick up the phone. Believe me when I say it, follow up is one of the most important event marketing processes you can make.

TIP 7 - Is it worth it?

And when it’s all over, remember those objectives you set out at the beginning? It’s time to look through them and work out what the event delivered in terms of ROI. If enough incentives and measurement techniques have been intertwined throughout it should be possible to calculate a cost per lead or sale – while not forgetting to take into account the aspects that have to be measured more subjectively.

If you’d like to make success of your next event, or simply need a guide in the right direction request your free consultation today

#tradeshowsuccess #eventmarketing #eventfollowup #marketingcommunicationswork