By David Betke
Creating a well-designed trade show marketing plan can significantly impact your return on investment, potentially increasing it by 10X. This can result in efficient use of time, money, and resources. Here are the critical elements of a successful trade show marketing plan:
Define what you want to achieve from the trade show. Be specific with your goal. For example, are you aiming for qualified leads? If so, do some research. Know your average sale amount, cost per lead, and closing and customer retention rates. If you are trying to recruit employees, begin with cost per lead, closing rates, etc. Having key benchmarks to measure against ensures you can make informed decisions on which shows will deliver your best ROI.
Identify the types of attendees who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. This will help you tailor your messaging and marketing efforts to the right people, existing customers and potential clients. Perhaps there is more than one segment. Can you define them? Do you have resources aimed at each? Some events are great for sales and recruitment, but if you have a one size fits all marketing strategy, you may fall short with prospective customers and employees.
Ask yourself, "Will the event attract a high percentage of your ideal audience? If they won't be there, should you? If all that is wondering on the trade show floor are freebie seekers looking for the next shiny giveaway but who have no interest in your products and services, should you waste the money because your competition is?
When you understand what they want to achieve, you can stand out by aligning your experience with their event goals. Consider where they are in the marketing funnel, awareness, consideration or conversion and gear your marketing materials accordingly.
Where do potential customers gather? Who influences their purchasing decisions? Who influences their decisions to attend trade shows? How do they share information through Facebook, Linkedin, or internal communications?
Have you used their products or services? How well-branded are they? What technology do they use? Who are their key customers? What is their market share? Have you done any reconnaissance on their company's marketing? Do you know anything about their promotional materials or marketing tactics? Do They have a trade show strategy?
What is your key differentiation? Does it answer your potential customers' most pressing concern (why they are at the show in the first place)? Can you remove more friction points to them taking action?
Pick the right giveaway items to attract the right people to visit your booth. Make sure receiving it, or a prize, is conditional upon them taking an appropriate action that moves you closer to your marketing and sales goals. Many companies simply hand swag out without a plan, get no results and declare that "promotional products attract prospects to your booth, but they don't work." We can assure you that if you have a plan, they do, and very well.
The product should reinforce your message or brand. Never just print your logo. Print a call to action and have a lead capture mechanism that advances new leads through your funnel, preferably automated.
Can you give them a great reason to make your booth a destination?
Tip: A well-considered giveaway with a compelling message and a call-to-action like a promotional product is an excellent tool for this purpose at your next event.
But it must be meaningful, support your brand story, and be measurable in its impact. But they should never be made from single-use materials. At the very least, they should be made from sustainable materials, better yet environmentally conscious or made with sustainable methods. Best: planting local trees.
What are you doing for lead generation? How will you capture leads? Do you have a landing page or app? Do you have someone in your organization who can help you create a digital funnel with a marketing automation provider?
Your booth should be visually appealing and designed to attract attendees. Consider the colours, graphics, lighting, and furniture to make your booth stand out. Consider using interactive displays or demonstrations to engage attendees. Make sure the exhibit design includes a Call to Action.
Use social media, email marketing, and other digital channels to promote your presence at the trade show and build anticipation among potential attendees and new prospects. Look for related posts and like or comment on them.
Your booth staff and sales representatives should know your products, services, and brand messaging. They should also be friendly, approachable, and able to answer attendees' questions. Provide training and support to ensure your team is ready to represent your brand at the show. If possible, include them in the planning process.
After the trade show, have your sales reps follow up with recruitment leads, sales leads and contacts you made. Use this opportunity to further engage with potential customers and move them through the sales funnel. Developing a trade show marketing plan addressing these essential elements can maximize your ROI, time, and resources.
Understanding which shows lead to the most revenue or other KPIs is essential. This may vary significantly from the show that attracted the most people to your booth, where most people loved your swag, or where you drew the most significant number of new sales or recruitment leads because we all know that leads are not customers.
We hope this helps make your next event or trade show more sustainable for your budget and our planet. If you need help, please reach out.