Exhibiting 101: Promoting Your Presence At A Trade Show
This is the sixth in a series of articles about the basics of exhibiting that began with the first post of the New Year.
We’re covering some of the basic things a trade show professional needs to do to be sure their exhibition displays and trade show investments succeed. And you’d think that promotion would be a common topic, covered in many places where exhibition displays are discussed.
But there are some glaring holes. Many trade show managers and others in this business are very capable promoters. But a large percentage still believes that “if we build it, they will come.” The reality is, that only happens in movies.
Even the best trade show planning won’t succeed if no one knows you’re there. Promoting your company’s presence at the show helps attendees find your exhibit. That gets more people into your booth and, in turn, you connect with more prospects for your product or service.
But how do you do that? Let’s run through some of the ways you can promote your presence.
1) Get a slot as a speaker
There’s a truism in business that people only buy from people they know, like and trust. How can you get as many people at a trade show as possible to know, like and trust you?
By speaking on a show’s educational track. There, you (or someone from your company) can introduce yourself, your company and your product or service to a whole room full of people.
You can even offer a special incentive for them to visit your booth after the seminar.
2) Make your signage do its job
We covered this in a previous post, but I’ll touch on it again, because it’s critically important for your trade show success.
Signage should be thought of like a billboard, rather than an advertisement. It’s there to attract attention and communicate a single, simple message. Elaborating on that message should be left to your staff or your promotional materials.
If possible, your graphics ought to have a “hook” to them: something that compels people to answer the question raised, complete the thought presented or ask for more information. Graphics should draw visitors to your exhibition displays – at that point, your staff needs to take over.
3) Create a digital press kit
Media people have grown tired of canvassing a show and going back to their offices with armloads of printed information. What works now is a digital press kit: all the same information you’d put in a traditional press kit, but in digital form.
The added value of this type of press kit is that the digital format allows for video content. Many of the press people you’ll be dealing with are creating content for online outlets, and video is ideal for their audiences.
But don’t wait until show time to reach out to the media. You want them to know who you are and what you’ll be presenting at the show ahead of time. That way, they’ll already have an interest in doing a story about your company once the show opens.
To succeed here, start with press releases (you can ask show management for a media contact list) a couple of months or more before the show. This allows monthly magazines to cover your story, and gives other media outlets plenty of time.
Follow up with social media outreach. This could be a Facebook page for the show, tweets at regular intervals and any time something newsworthy happens.
Delegate one or two people from your team to oversee social media messaging, so you’ll cover all the most important or popular portals.
4) Don’t forget tried and true outreach tools You’ll reach a large audience with your social media efforts. But that won’t include everyone you want to connect with.
Some people still aren’t social media savvy, and these can be some of your biggest customers. So send out printed invitations to visit your exhibition displays. Better yet, mail personalized, hand-written invitations to your best customers and prospects.
Another tried and true technique is to set appointments with those customers and prospects before the show. That way, you’ll have some assurance that they’ll make time to get to your exhibit and see your product demo or talk with your salespeople.
Studies show that as many as 75% of attendees know which exhibits they want to visit before they go to the show, so doing this will get you on their lists.
In this digital age, much of your outreach will be online through emails. So make them personal.
Add pictures of yourself, your trade show team and even your exhibit to your outgoing emails. Include a signature block that tells recipients you’ll be at the upcoming show.
Always include a call-to-action with your emails. This could be anything from mentioning your booth number to offering show special pricing.
You can also tease your new product introduction or product demo in these messages to would-be attendees.
If you know that certain prospects won’t be attending the show, they should receive a call-to-action, as well (just not the same one).
Encourage them to download a white paper or other information from your website—or even from a special show-related landing page you’ve created on that site.
5) See what the show organizer can do for you
Aside from your listing in the directory, find out if the organizer of the show has a press page on its website. Maybe you could post a creative story about what you’re doing at the show there.
There may be other opportunities to partner with show sponsors, or to sponsor something on your own.
Also check with the sponsor to see if they’re doing social media outreach. Perhaps your efforts could dovetail here, and you can promote them in return for promoting your exhibit in their outreaches.
The more creative and interesting you can make your company’s story, the more opportunities will arise for you to share that story.
So put your thinking caps on and brainstorm with your staff. You may even want to share pictures of that brainstorming session, to add personal interest to the story.
American Image Displays wants our clients and customers to succeed in their trade show efforts. That’s why we’ve gone over the most important parts of preparing for trade show success in this series of articles. If you’re ready to talk about new exhibition displays, adding to what you already have, or just getting a few accessories like trade show display lighting or trade show literature holders, talk to us. Call (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected].
See full list of Exhibiting 101 articles here.