Event Marketing

Is Trade Show Marketing Relevant now that Digital has taken over?

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Are you questioning whether you should participate in an upcoming trade show event? Is it worth the investment of your time and money? Absolutely. However, it’s a process and one that must be managed properly to achieve a successful outcome.

The ROI of a trade show can be exponential if you play your cards right.  But, before you invest thousands of dollars to be an exhibitor, do your research—and be selective. Make sure to participate in events that are exclusive to your target audience and key influencers. Define your objectives and think about how you will measure ROI.

According to Entrepreneur, here are 6 benefits of trade show marketing:

  1. Get a glimpse at the competition. While this shouldn’t be your main priority, being near other companies in the same industry will let you see what’s new and interesting in the marketplace. And, how your target audience is responding to all that is being offered.

  2. Great PR opportunities. Distribute an effective press release prior to the event to create some buzz around your product offering and drive traffic to your booth. Reporters that write specifically about your industry will be sharing highlights of the upcoming event and they will be attending, so if you can gain an interview or mention in their writing--video, then you have just earned yourself some great PR. Take advantage of every opportunity before, during and after the event.

  3. Potential partnerships. Not every other exhibitor at a trade show is your competition. Some may offer products or services that complement your business and creating new partnerships may prove beneficial. Trade shows and conferences provide excellent opportunities to network within your industry, conduct research and to share best practices.

  4. Increase your exposure. The promotion of the event includes promotion of the exhibitors and sponsors of the trade show as well, as for months in advance. The press coverage, social media and blogs can increase your searchability. As people search for information surrounding the trade show, your own content is more likely to found. For example, make sure to include @GlassBuild or @AIA18CON in your social media posts, and relevant # hashtags.

  5. Awards and recognition. Many trade shows give out awards and participating is worth the entry fee if you have a product or service that is innovative and effective. Volunteer to be a speaker or invest in a sponsorship. Awards and other recognition during the event will add credibility in the eyes of your customers.

  6. Create and build momentum. Participating in a trade show is a lot of work and your products, services and marketing must be on point. Preparing for a trade show event should also be an exciting time. Your sales team should leave feeling energized and inspired following a successful outcome.

The benefits are great, but how do you maximize ROI and brand awareness? As mentioned earlier, choosing the right trade show is important, but that alone will not make it successful. Maximizing your ROI at a trade show takes strategy.

According to statistics by Exponents Insta USA Inc., the average company allocates 31.6% of their total marketing budget to еvеntѕ and exhibiting. With more than $24 billion dollars spent by US Exhibitors for trade show displays, 70% of those exhibitors have no specific objectives for the trade show. On top of that, 81% of trаdе ѕhоw attendees have buуіng authority. If you are going to invest a large portion of your marketing budget to exhibiting, then it is essential that you set objectives and take advantage of the exposure you will have to all those attendees with buying authority. By doing so, you will both maximize your ROI and brand awareness.

To provide a little more insight into how you can maximize your ROI at a trade show, here are the 5 most important trade show investments according to Inc.:

  1. Location. Location. Location. It doesn’t matter if you have the best booth and a solid plan—if you are tucked away in the back corner where there is little to no foot traffic. A prime location is key. If possible, grab a spot near the entrance, next to the refreshments or a corner booth.

  2. Have a great giveaway. If you want attendees to share their business card with you, or scan their badge, then you are going to have to entice them. Offer one or two grand prize giveaways via a drawing that will set you apart from other exhibitors, and offer small, useful promo items to everyone.

  3. Staff your booth with the right people. For a trade show you are going to want your most extroverted marketing and sales staff that will represent your company well. Choose those you can count on to be heads up, alert and engaging with those who may otherwise just keep walking past your booth.

  4. Invest in pre-show marketing and training. Promote the event, and your participation as an exhibitor. Put it on your website, send it in a newsletter and post it across your social media channels. Offer customers a free guest pass. Also, if some of your top customers will be attending, send them a personal invitation to stop by your booth to visit. Have a pre-show meeting with your exhibit team to make sure everyone understands to reason for being at the events, trade show etiquette and expectations.

  5. Have a strong follow up system. Assign one person to oversee the process on how to capture leads during the event [hopefully with the ease of one or more lead retrieval devices], and the distribution of the leads following the event. Make sure leads are properly qualified, existing customers are acknowledged and make sure no one falls through the cracks. Follow-up and the timing of the follow-up is critical. Lack of follow-up will cause you to lose credibility and result in low ROI.

With the right strategy, your business will reap the benefits of effective trade show marketing and you will maximize the return on your investment. Trade shows are ideal for building brand awareness. Make the most of it!

If you are not sure how to properly research, plan and execute on trade shows and other event marketing opportunities, we can help guide you through the process—or completely manage your event calendar. Contact us today to schedule your free 30-minute consultation, and let us help you reap the benefits!