Using Trade Show Promotions
Trade show promotions are a no-brainer. The basic 3 categories you can break this down into are pre-show promotions, at-show promotions, and post show follow up. Overlaying all promotions are the goals you have for the attendee experience and what we want accomplish as a company. There’s no better way to DRIVE people to your booth and draw attention to your company and products. What’s more, there’s an endless variety of ways to do it!
At any given show, there are loads of giveaways and promos and drawings, and there are at least that many more IDEAS about how to do them better and bigger “next time.” On the other hand, there are a lot of ways to really blow it when you’re trying to pull off a big promo. Remember that you’re trying to attract YOUR target audience for a long-term (hopefully) relationship. This is not a numbers game where you’re just trying to give away as much stuff as possible to as big a group as possible in the hopes of some potential return. In order to avoid the pitfalls and really reach your trade show goals, take a look at the top tips for best practices in creating a fantastic trade show promotion:
1. Target Correctly: Check your demographics. Is your target audience largely middle-aged males? Then WHY are you trying to appeal to millennial women with your giveaways? Make sure your promotions and giveaways and any other gimmicky thing you do APPEALS to the demographics of your target audience. This is just good business sense. It’s why Victoria’s Secret is bathed in pink through and through.
2. Crowd Gather: Every company has one of those high energy, never met a stranger, willing to talk to anyone type of people on staff. These are excellent candidates for putting in the aisle at a trade show and let them engage, then qualify attendees and hand them off to the correct person in the exhibit space. Repeat this for the duration of the show. The profile of these folks is pretty straight forward… they should be entertaining, friendly, and engaging in order to gather crowds. They are worth their weight in gold-dipped refrigerator magnets when used correctly.
3. Demos: It all starts with a great product and a great product demo. Get a team together to create a product demo with the “WOW!” factor that will attract attendees to your booth. Make it interactive so that attendees aren’t just standing there like inactive spectators. Get them involved! Have a segue way to smoothly transition from the demonstration time so that attendees can ask questions and your staff can start meaningful, valuable conversations.
4. Two-Part Giveaway: Similarly, you can get a valuable, two–part gift, and send half pre-show to those top prospects, telling them that the other half will be waiting for them in your booth. We’ve seen two-part gifts such as pen and pencil sets, remote control cars and their remote, designer sun glasses and their case, and so on.
5. Spark for Conversation: Be sure to use promotions for what they are – conversation starters. They aren’t the end game. They are the launch. Make sure your booth staffers know this, and know that they are being given the gift of a conversation. It’s up to them to take the conversation to the next level and so on. Staffers who don’t realize this can easily make the mistake of allowing the prospect to just leave the booth. When this happens, the promo was all for naught.
6. The Right Giveaway: Let’s face it: we all love a giveaway! It hardly matters what’s being given away, but we want it! For this reason, you need to be strategic with your giveaways. They are worthwhile – no doubt about it. They draw the MOST people to your booth. They help people remember your business after the show has closed up. However, you want to be drawing the RIGHT people to your booth – the ones who need what you’re offering and the ones who are ready for it. Avoid casting too wide a net during a giveaway. Tailor the giveaway to fit your target market and appeal to their needs. If your appeal is too broad, you’re going to be sifting through scores of names that are not potentials for you.
7. Room Drops: One of the advantages of having an official show hotel is that they know which rooms are occupied by show attendees. For a fee, exhibitors can have promotional materials placed in hotel rooms of the attendees. They are sure to be noticed, but also can be perceived as intrusive.
8. Preparation: Set your client and top prospect meetings ahead of time. Make this more appealing by offering them something special – a small gift, some pre-release information, exclusive access to decision makers. Reaching out to prospects with an invitation and a somewhat valuable offer really greases the wheels in business. Spending time preparing today will get you the best results tomorrow..
9. Sponsorships: You can also sponsor things that are highly visible to all attendees. The show badge and lanyard will be seen over and over again by all show attendees, so if you only want to get your name out, those are options for you. You could also pay for a banner across the top or down the side of the show website prior to the event to build awareness and promote a particular point at the show, such as a new product or discount.
10. Discounts & Specials: These words are like a flame to moths. And your potentials are the moths. Discounts and show specials are particularly helpful in closing a deal when you see a hard-to-reach prospect at a trade show. When you get that rare face time, THAT is the moment to offer a special deal, a special discount, a one-day-only deal to that client.
11. Presenters: Like the previous tip, you might consider a live interactive presenter. A professional narrator or a corporate magician or comedian will draw large crowds to your booth AND deliver your message. This kind of entertaining medium will not only boost your lead count, but it will elevate your presence on the trade show floor. Way more often than not, if you see a crowd of people focused on a trade show booth activity, it’s because there’s a live presenter in the booth.
12. Social Media: Once you’ve maximized conventional pre-show and at-show promotions, pour more of your effort into social media to highlight your trade show promotions. Take into consideration your target audience’s social media savvy to determine where to focus your efforts. Your social media coverage should be proportionate to your market. This is such an in-depth topic, we have written many, many blog posts addressing this specifically.
13. Memorable Giveaway: And finally, create a memorable giveaway that appeals to your target audience, ties into your marketing message, and will be valued after the show. If you don’t, you might as well throw your marketing budget into one of the event center trash bins.
14. Press Coverage: Trade shows are a great time to get press coverage, too. If you are launching a new product at your upcoming trade show, invite the industry press that will be there to come to your booth, even offering an appointment with your top brass. Ask show management to share their PR list with you.
15. Follow Up: Statistically, 79% of trade show leads are not followed up on by a company’s sales force. That is alarming and the best way to avoid this is to create a 3-part plan that includes points to address accountability, timing of the follow up and appropriate giveaways. When these 3 are in place, follow generally will skyrocket and your field sales team desires to follow up because it makes sense financially and for the reasons above.
There are many, many ideas for trade show promotions that we need consider beyond what is listed above. Consider, using email blasts, mail, phone, ads, social media, and more to reach out to clients and attendees. Also, consider which promotions you can do with personal effort and which take more financial investment. Last, consider both pre-show invites and at-show activities to get more traffic and qualified prospects into your booth.
Hopefully, these tips will brighten up your booth and attract more attendees who are eager to engage with you and your staff.
This article is inspired by "10 Top Tips For Trade Show Promotions" by Mike Thimmesch and first appeared at www.skyline.com