Making a Strategic Plan for a Trade Show

January 21, 2020 / Marketing

Making a Strategic Plan for a Trade Show

Signing up to exhibit at a trade show or conference can be a great way to reach hundreds of potential customers in a day or two. But just because 300 attendees come through the exhibit hall, doesn’t mean you’ve acquired 300 new customers. Marketing at a trade show and finding qualified leads requires a plan of attack. Here are 5 tips for making a strategic plan for your trade show marketing!

Get attendees excited about your trade show appearance! As soon as you submit your registration, start spreading the word about the trade show! You can let your clients/fans know to look out for you at the trade show AND advertise the show for potential attendees.

  • Send an email blast to your list letting them know you will be in attendance. Include a link to the trade show or conference website so they can get more information and possibly register to attend.
  • Find out if the attendee list is available to exhibitors. Scan the list for any clients or companies you may be interested in working with and reach out! You can offer to meet at the conference for coffee or drinks to discuss a future business opportunity.
  • Consider offering a trade show discount for attendees that stop by your booth. Include information about your discount or giveaway in your emails or on social media.
  • Post on social media leading up to the event. You could post a picture of your giveaway, talk about any exclusive products or services you will be revealing at the show, or go live during the actual event.

Draw them to your booth with a knockout display. Usually, at trade shows or exhibitions, you get a 10×10 space and a 6- or 8-foot table. It may seem like you are limited in terms of booth setup, but there are many ways to make your booth attractive and engaging.

  • Move that table to the side or out of the way completely. Make the best use of your 10×10 space. Allow room for attendees to step into your space instead of just walking by.
  • Make it interactive! If you are showcasing a product, allow attendees to interact with it. Plan a demonstration so visitors can see your product in action. Offering a service? Show a video of your service in action and allow attendees to sign up for a consultation or estimate.
  • Show off your brand with custom signage. Attendees will not wonder who you are with big, bold, colorful signage at your booth. Custom printed flags and tablecloths, retractable banners, and pop up displays can help showcase your brand in the best light.
  • Look your best with custom apparel. As the trade show season begins, think about leveling up. Leave the polo and khakis behind and try a new look with custom blazers, sweaters, or accessories such as aprons or hats!

Plan your elevator pitch. An attendee has stopped by your exhibit booth and they seem interested! You only have a few seconds to gauge their interest and grasp their attention before they start to move on. Plan opening lines and other talking points ahead of time you can use when speaking with attendees.

  • Start with something casual. Talk about the food at the luncheon that day, the happy hour from last night, or if they have recommendations for attractions in the area.
  • Find out why they are attending. Are they looking for a particular product or service? Or just cruising around to find something interesting? What industry are they in? Where is their business located?
  • Talk about how your company can help them. How can you help businesses in their industry? What other clients do you have related to their business?

Give them something to remember. This is the fun part of planning! Find a unique promo item to give to attendees!

  • Themed for the event. Does the event have a theme or color scheme? For a real estate convention, try stress balls shaped like a house! Showcasing for an event for journalists or writers? A top of the line pen or flash drives are both useful for the attendees and related to the event.
  • Themed for the location. Is the event located in a unique city? Umbrellas for an event in Seattle, dice for a Las Vegas convention, or cowboy hats in Dallas would help the attendee remember both your company and the trip!

The fortune is in the follow-up. Studies show that less than 70% of exhibitors have a plan or process in place for following up with potential leads. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. You must follow up!

  • Take your time sending a follow up email. In the days following the conference or convention, they may still be traveling or decide to take time off. Wait two or three days before sending your first follow up email.
  • Keep that email short and sweet. Reference a conversation you had at the event. Send any follow up information you agreed to share with them.  And make your closing line a call-to-action. Your CTA could be scheduling a meeting, linking them to a video of your product, or asking them to name their single biggest challenge.
  • Follow up more than once but spread your emails out over time. In your emails, focus on the value you can offer. Keep it personalized and try to build on your past conversations.

Are you ready to start planning for your next trade show? Download this helpful checklist to start your strategic plan!

Strategic Factory has a team of experts that can assist you with marketing strategy, trade show displays, and promotional products for your next event! Contact us to schedule a consultation.