Whether you’re B2B or B2C, trade shows are an important way to reach new audiences and build awareness about your product or services. Before you start your pre-trade show marketing, make sure you know your trade show marketing goals – or how will you know if your trade show participation is successful? Your show goals should follow the SMART criteria:
Attend XYZ trade show March 1-3
Your SMART trade show goal would be:
At XYZ trade show on March 1-3 have 225 booth visitors test our new software tool and sign up 25 new customers that result in $1500 new MRR.
Specific: sign up 25 new customers
Measurable; $1500 new MRR
Achievable: 225 booth visitors
Relevant: test our new software tool
Time-based: March 1-3
Planning for the success of your trade show participation doesn’t start by signing up for the show, and can’t rely on people seeing your booth at the show and stopping by to check out your services. Your pre-trade show marketing efforts should be designed to make your target audience aware of your attendance before the show, increase online buzz about the show and increase your opportunity for a strong trade show ROI.
7 Pre-Trade Show Marketing Techniques
1. Blast on Social Media
Over 80% of adult Americans have a social media account – and probably you do too! Promote your participation at an upcoming trade show on all your social media platforms. Each platform should have a unique voice and image that targets your audience on that channel.
• Create social media images and posts that have the date, your booth number, the show name and your logo
• Use event hashtags in the post, as well as your branded hashtags
• Announce any giveaways or show events
• Continue to post photos on social during the trade show
Email marketing and newsletters are a great way to inform contacts, customers and prospects that you will be attending a tradeshow. Provide a photo of your booth, and the details of where it is and how to find you. Invite people to visit your booth, or set up 1:1 meetings during the show. Set up a trade show email marketing schedule, such as:
• 6 weeks before the show
• 1 week before the show
• 1 day before the show
• During the show with photos of you in your booth
Build online visibility and buzz about your attendance at the tradeshow by holding a giveaway before or during the show. Create a landing page for the show on your website that includes the giveaway and all important information about the show, and a picture of your booth so visitors can easily find you.
Promotional swag and freebies are important for during show giveaways. Pre-show giveaways could include a drawing for a special gift, a free introductory product or an exclusive show discount.
4. Sponsor an Event
Help the trade show promote your business by sponsoring an event or activity at the show. Typically event sponsors are listed in the trade show pre-event marketing. Depending on your budget, there are many event sponsorship opportunities at tradeshows:
• coffee breaks
• workshops or speakers
• lounges or seating areas
• charging stations
5. Leverage Your Team
Make sure all of your team knows about the trade show and your show goals. Ask them to spread the word to their professional contacts – whether or not they are attending the show! If they are attending the show, make sure everyone is assigned a booth pre-show promotion job.
Determine your paid, earned, and owned advertising strategy and budget:
• Paid: Online paid marketing including social media ads, PPC, and paid social media ads
• Earned: Word of mouth, SEO
• Owned: Content marketing, email marketing, direct mail, organic social media, corporate website, and landing pages
Postcards are still an effective and affordable option for many businesses to reach their audience. Whether left at a location for consumer pickup or sent through the mail, a postcard is a tangible that your prospect can use to remember their intent to attend. For B2C businesses, an attractive useful postcard featuring your booth at an upcoming tradeshow is likely to get posted on the fridge or attached to the household calendar. For B2B, an eye-catching postcard can stand out and get noticed in the daily mail.