Industry trade shows present great opportunities to show off your product, expand your market knowledge, and connect with others in the same industry. Trade shows can be perfect for networking and exposure, and for building relationships within your industry and making an impression with prospective customers.
However, trade shows can also be somewhat overwhelming. Between events, sessions, and meet-and-greets, there is always a lot to take in, and it’s important to approach the event knowing how to spend your time wisely. The key is to make the most of the opportunities you have to prepare so that you can make the most of your time at the event itself.
Thankfully, you’re not the first one to have these concerns for trade show marketing. That’s why we’ve rounded up the following tips from influential writers and trade show experts. Whether you are planning to attend your very first trade show or are sponsoring an event or booth for the first time, these pro tips can help direct your goals and ideas so that you can carve out your vision for the a successful trade show experience.
Set measurable goals
Rachel Sprung of HubSpot suggests starting out by setting goals for what you want to accomplish at your trade show. “Trade show marketing is a very strategic process,” she writes. “You have to determine your strategy and messaging and make sure everything relates back to your business goals.” She suggests taking time well in advance to focus on specific goals and metrics for the trade show.
The opportunity to find new prospects, spread awareness, and promote your brand are great goals, but you can get even more specific — such as increasing your list of sales leads or gaining more email or blog subscribers. These are things that have measurable metrics associated so that you can track your progress from before and after the event.
Instead of trying to blindly engage with every passing person, gear your visuals and your talking points to your key audience. The Trade Group Training Specialist, Adam Nelson, suggests taking time to think about the trade show as a way to build brand awareness and credibility in order to attract your audience. This is especially important with key influencers in your industry.
“If your event is the kind that attracts an audience of well-known industry insiders/influencers, then don’t miss out on the chance to reach out and engage with them,” he writes. It’s all about engaging before the event in order to build awareness and deliver interesting information to get people excited.
“Define who you want to come to your exhibit and target them specifically,” adds Vice President of Sales for The Trade Group, Malcom Gilvar. This is a great way to engage interest before your event, and, ideally, use their influence in the industry to spur other potential leads to attend the event as well.
In order to get people engaged during the event, think about ways to encourage interaction. “If you can make your product or service interactive, people will stay and a crowd will form,” writes James C. Gibson, Marketing and Sales Manager at Metro Exhibits.
Depending on your product or service, this can look very different from event to event. However, generating interest is the key. To start, do something to catch the eye and get people to visit your booth. This can involve playing music, using large flashy visuals, incorporating touch screens, or using games or contests to draw attention. Be creative, and keep your goals in mind.
Once you have a captive audience, discuss some key highlights of your brand, including what sets it apart and what makes it unique. “Find a way to allow your booth traffic to interact with your products or services,” Gibson explains. “Not only will you generate interest, but they will get a better understanding of your value proposition.”
One way to encourage interaction is with eye-catching promotional items. However, make a conscious decision about the type of products you plan to give away and how people will use them. Ken Krogue, President and Founder of InsideSales.com, suggests giving away cool swag that matters. “You must educate Interest into Need,” he says, “and only people with Need buy from you.” In order to generate need, Krogue suggests “baiting the hook” with something interesting. Often, that interest comes from eye-catching giveaways that are fun, different, and useful. These types of handouts will people to slow down, check out your booth, and engage with your sales and marketing team.
But what are the best promotional items to generate that initial interest? Consider your industry and what people might find useful or extraordinary. Here are three suggestions:
- Custom sunglasses. Many people travel to trade shows and events, and depending on the weather, they may have forgotten their own sunglasses. Offering your own custom sunglasses as promotional items can help fulfill that specific need, as well as deliver the connotation of “coolness.” Wearing sunglasses looks cool, and delivering a particular look can help portray your brand in a way that is modern, stylish, and en vogue. Choose from custom printed mirrored sunglasses, metal custom aviator style sunglasses, or themed sunglasses like these pinhole lens sunglasses , depending on your industry and the trade show theme.
- Custom chairs. After lots of walking around and being on their feet, trade show attendees will love the idea of taking a load off. Giving away or raffling off a custom chair with your company logo emblazoned on the back is a great way to attract attention. Plus, you can have a few folding chairs opened up on the floor to show off your logo and encourage people to rest their feet — and chat about your products or services at the same time.
- Custom cutting boards. Custom cutting boards make a classy and useful giveaway or contest prize for just about any trade show attendee. Whether they cook or not, they’ll appreciate the kitchen tool for chopping food, displaying cheeses and meats, or even displaying on their kitchen shelves. Select from options like this branded bamboo cutting board or handy flexible plastic cutting board.
Trade show marketing presents an opportunity to directly interact with potential customers and industry partners, so it’s important to spend some time and effort to setting goals, engaging your audience, interacting with people, and giving away products people will appreciate.