For small business owners, exhibitions are an excellent way to boost brand awareness, expand your network, and generate more sales. However, they could easily become a huge money (and time) sink for entrepreneurs, with little to no return on investment if they don’t know exactly what they’re doing. So, how can companies avoid falling into such a trap? Read these six essential marketing tips to find out.
1. Create a proper game plan
One of the first things you ought to do is work on creating a solid game plan (way) ahead of schedule. The sooner, the better. Start by conducting research on the different trade shows out there to find the one that suits your particular business. Next, you need to keep your target audience in mind to find ways to convert all that foot traffic into potential customers. After all, it’s not just about generating leads, it’s about generating traffic that converts. Once you know the exact time and date of your ideal trade show, you can tell your team members to book their flights and reservations in advance to avoid any unnecessary frustrations and save costs.
2. Double down on your marketing efforts
When it comes to trade show marketing, there are three distinct stages you need to be aware of: pre-show marketing, post-show marketing, and marketing for the duration of the show. So, before the event starts, you want to: send out targeted emails to all of your loyal followers and subscribers; blog about it repeatedly on your website to get the word out; schedule appointments with prospective clients, and so on. During the event itself, you want to stay active on social media as much as possible. Keep your customers well-informed, remind them of your whereabouts with proper event hashtags and posts while also giving them a reason to drop by and visit your stand. After the show, don’t let your leads get cold and follow them up within the next 48 hours to effectively seal the deal.
3. Stand out from the crowd
First impressions are the most lasting, and trade shows are no exception. In order to grab people’s attention, you need to effectively stand out from the crowd and get people to notice your brand right away. An excellent way of doing this is by constructing custom exhibition stands that reflect your brand’s distinct style and personality. In essence, the design has to match your company’s unique image and colour scheme for it to resonate well with your loyal fan base and potential clients. Presentation boards, videos, and slideshows are yet another thing you can use to draw even more attention to your booth. Lastly, consider sponsoring if you want to reserve the best possible spots for your brand to get that much-needed traffic boost.
4. Get the right people on board
Your employees are essentially the face of your business. As a result, you need to take great care of whom you’ll take to the trade show with you. The last thing you want is for your co-workers to idle behind your counter, socializing with each other instead of chasing prospects. This kind of behaviour just paints a grim picture of your entire company and deters potential clients away from your stand. So, create a team of like-minded people with complementing skill sets to successfully manage your booth. This includes customer service representatives, salespeople, marketing coordinators, and so on. That way, you have all your bases covered, effectively setting yourself up for success.
5. Provide lots of giveaways
Don’t look at giveaways as a mere business expense, but more as an investment. The more interesting they are, the more leads they’ll generate. So, try attracting attendees by offering them a chance to win all kinds of prizes, such as branded pens, magnets, gift cards, and so on; whatever floats your boat. Simply get them to drop their business cards into a bag or a fish bowl (classic), to become eligible for the said contest. Of course, you can always go the extra mile and offer them exclusive demo versions of your products, or perhaps even a limited-time offer, depending on your type of business. Also, flyers, brochures, and food goodies (to break the ice) are a no-brainer and a must.
6. End with a debriefing
At the end of the day, experience is the mother of wisdom. So, sit down with your team, get a notebook, and write down all the things that worked as well as all the things that could use some room for improvement. Was there enough traffic? Which strategies worked out the best? What could be done differently in the future? So on and so forth. These observations will prove critical for determining what needs changing and how best to implement those new adjustments.
All in all, just bear in mind that the whole point of participating in a trade show in the first place is to gather new contacts, expand existing ones, and convert traffic into leads. Remember this and adjust your marketing strategies to match.