Trade Show Marketing Strategy


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This e-book walks you through pre-show, at-show and post-show marketing strategy for your next trade show.

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Trade Show Marketing Strategy

  1. 1. Trade Show Marketing Strategy John Kallmeyer • Pre- Trade Show Planning • At-Show Strategies • Post-Trade Show MarketingShare this e-book | 440.449.6800 | 6685 Beta Drive Mayfield Village, OH 44143
  2. 2. 01IntroductionTrade shows are a unique form of marketing that generally gets sales teams licking their chops at the thought of hundreds,or perhaps thousands, of pre-qualified prospects in the same room for three solid days. And to a large degree this is true.Trade show marketing presents an extremely targeted venue in which to further your marketing strategy - be it to drive sales,generate leads, increase brand awareness, or all of the above.However, it is important to note a few caveats to this banquet of potential. First, the room is typically quite large and verycrowded. Second, your competition will likely be attending the feast as well. And third, the so-called “pre-qualified prospects”may not all be Grade A quality. Thus, it is imperative that any company considering trade show marketing put forth the duediligence to ensure show objectives can be met and a desired return on investment can be achieved.This e-book will touch on the three critical areas of trade show marketing:❍❍ Pre-Trade Show Planning❍❍ At-Show Strategies❍❍ Post-Trade Show MarketingAbout the AuthorJohn Kallmeyer, Director - Visual MarketingWhat I DoI bring a whole new dimension to Skoda Minotti’s Strategic Marketing Group –literally. Providing creative concept and design, custom fabrication, and totalproject management, I direct the integration of our clients’ brand into the physical,built environment.My SpecialtiesMy expertise lies in the design, manufacture, and implementation of fixtures,signage, and environmental graphics for retail branding and merchandising,museums, corporate and institutional displays, and tradeshow exhibits.Outside of Work, You Can Find Me...My ideal distractions from work are golf, fishing, music, camping with the scouts,and driving to and from baseball fields and hockey rinks – depending on the season.Share this e-book
  3. 3. 02Pre-Trade Show PlanningPre-trade show planning and marketing is the most complex and critical of all. Trade show planning begins with proper showselection, which is more important now than ever as budgets have tightened and the demand for good returns has risen.Adequate research and analysis of show attendance is key to the development of meaningful show objectives. Realisticbudgeting provides the foundation for accurate ROI calculation.Once it is determined that a show is worth attending, it is important to develop objectives for the show; what is the end result ofattending the show? You need to make sure the team understands these objectives. Pre-show planning is also critical – Who is onthe team? What is their role? What is the budget? It is suggested that you have regular team meetings months ahead of time. Creating a pre-trade-show marketing strategy to drive traffic to your booth is the next step – this is much like a retailer drives traffic to their stores. Your message should speak directly to that show’s attendees, and should translate well to exhibit design all the way through post-show marketing. Pre-show marketing tactics can include direct mail, email/e- newsletters, social media, print advertising, and in the best case, securing editorial content in industry-supporting publications.This pre-show marketing is critical. It typically makes the difference between a successful show or not. You shouldcommunicate messages to your customers, potential customers and trade press editors; inviting them to the show. You cangenerate target lists of potential customers via several online database tools. Don’t think you are saving money by skipping thisstep. There are free means to spread the word too, for example, posting the message to your website and as the footer of youremails.Finally, quality exhibit design is essential to stand out on the show floor, and trends toward a more open, uncluttered spacewith a clear message. Some very important considerations for exhibit design are shipping and labor costs. There are manyoptions today that are lightweight, simple to install and dismantle, and still are able to make a tremendous impact on the showfloor.For more information about trade show marketing strategies,give our Strategic Marketing Group a call at (440) 449-6800.
  4. 4. 03At-Show StrategiesWhile a big part of pre-show marketing strategy is to develop a meaningful show message and outreach program to drivetraffic to your booth, there are a number of at-show opportunities to enhance your presence (see our ‘At Show MarketingChecklist’ on page 4). Client/prospect meetings, media relations, sponsorship opportunities, and speaking engagements areuseful strategies to increase awareness and maximize return.One of the easiest and least costly at-show strategies is to have pre-set meetings with your current clients or prospects,especially those from other parts of the country that you rarely see face-to-face if ever. While exhibiting at the show enhancesyour credibility, taking the time for personal meetings goes a long way to developing and solidifying relationships. Managing media relations is another way to get the most out of your trade show attendance. Like every other aspect of show planning, there is much leg- work that can be done before the show even starts. Identify the most prominent industry publications and find out who is making the editorial decisions and what the hot topics are. Be sure you know where the media/press room is at the show, and go to the show armed with plenty of press kits. Every show presents a multitude of sponsorship opportunities – big and small. Generally the big guys with enormous budgets have the big events covered – receptions, keynotes, and the like – but there aresmaller, less costly options that can help get your brand out there. Similarly, speaking engagements are a tremendous wayreach many show attendees and establish yourself as an expert in the field. Be mindful that topic submissions for speakingopportunities are typically due a full year or more before the actual show – and of course, your topic must be relevant.Another great way to get your message out and make it last is through the use of QR Codes. Often attendees do not have thetime to stop in your booth for a chat, and generally don’t enjoy amassing a pile of literature to lug around. QR Codes provide aconvenient way for attendees with smart phones to capture your information for later viewing. It is important to note that youshould invest the time and money to develop a mobile app, as linking direct to your web site can be cumbersome for the user.In support of all these activities, it is imperative that you are adequately staffed for the duration of the show. All of thesestrategies take place outside the booth, and you want to have full coverage. And during slow periods, additional staff can workthe floor – networking with other exhibitors.Share this e-book
  5. 5. 04At-Show Strategies (cont.)The At-Show Trade Show Marketing Checklist1. General Marketing Support: This includes assuring the booth is setup and is ‘communicating’ the message and image that has been determined for the show. Additional, general marketing support items will include: a. Working with booth personal to ensure proper booth coverage during show hours b. Working with show personal should there be an issue with any booth or show items c. Monitoring product literature to make sure adequate levels are on hand d. Gathering and securing show leads at the end of the day e. Meeting with show personal to select booth space for the next year’s show f. Verifying that booth teardown and move out has been arranged 2. Trade Press Support: This includes meeting with key trade press personal, scheduling meetings with the proper marketing person, providing press kits and being on hand during the interviews or press conference. 3. Competitive Intelligence: This includes meeting with competitive providers of products and evaluating their booth and marketing message. You should note strength and weaknesses and areas where you can differentiate your products and services over them. Additionaly, you can gather competitive literature where possible. This literature will be evaluated by the marketing team and then distributed to the proper product manager. 4. Acquisition Identification: This includes evaluating and meeting with target acquisition companies to determine possible fit. You can identify the company, products/services, key personal and any other data gathered in a personal interview.Share this e-bookFor more information about trade show marketing strategies,give our Strategic Marketing Group a call at (440) 449-6800.
  6. 6. 05Post-Trade Show StrategiesThe show is over, your display is packed and shipped, and your sales team is at the airport heading back to their respectiveoffices…now what? All of the pre-show planning and at-show strategies are for naught without well-organized post-showactions. Lead management is without question the most important, but there are other things you can do depending on yourshow objectives. Post-show mailers, emails, and advertising should all be pre-planned and ready to go. It is also important tomaintain your show attendance electronically through your website, e-newsletter, blogs, and social media channels.Lead management has come a long way from the days of sifting through a giant bowl of business cards. Sophisticated lead-retrieval devices are available for rent at most shows, the best of which are wireless and actually transmit contact informationand notes into the cloud the moment it is captured. This allows for you or an admin to immediately begin to organize, prioritize,and even respond to contacts made at the show. It is helpful to rate contacts right then and there on the show floor so you canstart working your strongest leads first. If creating brand awareness is one of your goals, you may consider “All of the pre-show planning and at-show purchasing the post-show attendee list from show management. This will allow you to send a follow up mailer to everyone who attended. strategies are for naught without Additionally, you should consider advertising in the industry-leading well-organized post-show actions” publications, as they always do a show review in their first edition after the conference. If sales generation is your goal, you may wantto stick with your leads from the show and specifically targeted attendees that may have missed your booth. In any case, it isimperative all of these activities take place promptly after the show, while the topics are still fresh in the minds of attendees.Beyond direct solicitation of contacts and attendees, you can also get decent run out of content marketing and social mediachannels.❍❍ Keep a link to the show site on your website for a month or so – often times there is valuable post-show information about the conference.❍❍ Offer show specials for visitors to your site that attended the show.❍❍ Write a blog about the value of the show and link up with your social media sites.All of these things help to continue the momentum from the show, and further build your credibility as a player in the industry.Finally, after every show you should schedule a post-show debriefing meeting with sales to ensure proper lead follow up andevaluate pre-show planning and at-show strategies and how this may feed into next years’ participation. It is also importantto forecast the return on your investment as soon as possible. The earlier you decide to attend next years’ show the better.Early commitment to booth space can get you better positioning on the show floor. Also, if you are gunning for a speakingengagement or major sponsorship, now is the time to act – before the opportunities are gone.Share this e-book