Why would you spend thousands of dollars and simply let your trade show success rest on the luck of the draw? Many companies have no idea what they can do to improve their success because they look at it as an event that they cannot control. They put their full faith and credit in the trade show staff.
When you choose to participate in any kind of trade show event, you will make a substantial investment and regardless of your purpose, you want to maximize the anticipated result. How or whether you choose to promote your trade show can make a huge impact on your success.
What happens if someone comes to a trade show that would have stopped at your booth and made an appointment, but they didnít know you were there and never got to you or never thought about you? A little promotion of your event at the trade show can have a tremendous effect.
Budgeting the trade show promotion
Plan a portion of your trade show budget on promotion and donít forget to include your time investment as well. Hereís a good way to allocate your trade show budget. Dedicated about half of the budget to services and booth (the things that make you stand out and look professional). About one-fourth will be dedicated to the booth space itself, and the other one-fourth should be dedicated to promotion.
Check with trade show staff to see if they can supply you with prospects who will attend the show. In consumer shows, these are much less likely to be found, but those who register online might have their address info available.
Consider these as ways to get your information to prospective contacts:
Send an invitation Ė Send a personal invitation to community and/or business leaders who you spot on the list. If you have a certain number of free or discounted tickets, consider passing these along to people who will come. Donít forget your current customer list in this category. These should be your biggest fans of all. Sending to this group may mean that they bring new potential customers along with them. Most will certainly stop in and their level of enthusiasm and appreciation will rub off and be impressive to others who are standing nearby.
Telemarketing Ė This has become a bit more dangerous with the Do-Not-Call list recently, at least where consumers are concerned. However, if you have had contact with someone in the last 6 months, there should be no problem with you making that phone call.
Direct mail Ė Often under-utilized or used wrong, direct mail can be one of your most effective tools at marketing your services to a consumer population. Be smart about it however. If you have target lists, use them. If you are shot-gunning to the general population, keep your costs as low as possible and only send them to areas where you want to do business. If you donít do business in a certain area, thereís no point in advertising there.
One often ignored but great direct mail piece is a simple postcard. Cardstock is available at any Kinkoís and cut in fourths, this makes the perfect card. Develop your presentation on your computer, let your printer print and cut the stock and then use your own printer and most word processing programs to print delivery addresses. Alternatively, you can turn this process over to a mailing house and let them do it for you to lists they already have.
While most mail has a very low open-rate, postcards are often read on the way back from the mailbox. Postcards have a very high read rate since most people get them as reminders from dentists, doctors, and vets.
Advertising Ė Consult show staff to learn of advertising possibilities. In most cases, you can share incredible exposure for very low rates. Just be sure they support your goals and agenda for why you are going to be at the shows.
Promote yourself at the trade show
Does the trade show have events that you can sponsor or otherwise be a part of? Many such events have training or educational seminars. If you speak at one of them, this not only puts your name out there, it implies that you must be THE expert on the subject. A good speech can generate tons of interest in what you do. This however, should not be the platform to promote your services. People come to such events to learn. Keep it topical and the results will be passed along to you.
At the trade show, consider what if anything you will give away at your booth. Whatever you do, if you do a piece of candy, do nothing instead. If nothing is there, people wonít notice so much. If you offer a penny piece of peppermint, it will just look cheap. On the other hand, donít give away the farm either.
The ones that show up with the expensive piece of show junk spend a fortune, most of it on people who only want the show junk. Consider something cheap but practical. Sticky note pads or refrigerator magnets with your company name on them are relatively cheap, they have value, but they arenít going to be sucked up en masse by the collector types.
Brochures and business cards Ė Whatever you do, show up to the trade show with plenty of these. If you have many leftovers, then you have a good start on next time and you will eventually be able to gauge how many you will give away. But if you run short, youíve just shot yourself in the foot. Even still, the tradeshow can still work though probably not as well. Be sure to get contact info for everyone that stops by and offer to send them something in the mail.
Planning your tradeshow
You simply cannot do it all at the tradeshow. If you can only do a single promotion, think it through and plan it well. Most of all have a plan of action for when people do stop at your tradeshow booth.