For many companies, especially in the B2B space, trade shows are still a major source of leads and prospects. As the world goes increasingly digital, trade shows provide a high-touch opportunity for your sales team to build relationships.
However, if you’re going to invest in trade show marketing, you need to offer a memorable experience. Many companies have invested a lot of time and money in standing out, with cool interactive displays and colorful pop-up graphics. The bar for taking your booth to the next level can be pretty high. Here are some ideas to get a bigger bang for your trade show buck.
Get a head start with premarketing.
While your sales team may be seasoned “road warriors,” for many attendees, trade shows are their only opportunity to get out of the office. They look forward to the show all year, and they’re excited for weeks in advance. Take advantage of that enthusiasm by letting them know you’ll be there. Email marketing, direct mail or even handwritten notes sent to a curated short-list of hot prospects can maximize your effectiveness at the show.
Think in three dimensions.
It’s worth investing in a really distinctive and unique booth. Square footage will be limited to the usual 10x10, 10x20 or 20x20 area. But you can still make the most of the space by going up (hanging banners, towers) or creating a private mini-conference room or “recharge station.” If your product has an interesting shape, echoing that shape in the layout of your booth can be a great brand reinforcement.
You could also think in terms of motion. For example, we’ve seen booths with robotics or interactive touchscreen displays. These elements can add depth and interaction to your booth.
Put away those promotional pens.
If you’re going to do giveaways, forget the cheap tchotchkes. You’re better off getting a smaller number of really unique and desirable pieces and doing a giveaway. Best of all, the giveaway for those bigger-ticket promotional items provides an opportunity to collect contact information, and build your permission marketing list.
Make people part of the experience.
Training your staff beforehand is a vital and often overlooked part of preparing for a good trade show. Draft some talking points. Give them some questions that will help you gain insights into your target’s relevant needs, concerns and desires. Hold a “pitch practice” session before the event so everyone’s skills are sharp and ready.
Take advantage of technology.
Social media is an increasingly big part of the trade show experience. Have a designated team member who is following the show’s hashtag on Twitter and looking for opportunities to do “moment marketing.” Create a photo booth backdrop so attendees can snap a picture to remember the show. And consider proximity marketing, using iBeacon to deliver messages to attendees when they pass by your booth. Sure, it can be creepy, but it can also be cool when executed well.
Go beyond the booth.
Literally. It’s easy to get fixated on bringing the crowd to your space. But a trade show is a great opportunity for your people to get out there, scout out the competition, learn what’s new in the industry and seek out interesting partnership opportunities. Schedule in some time for your staff to actually get out of the booth and walk the floor, with a purpose.
Don’t forget the follow-up.
The show must go on — and so must the relationships started there. Send a handwritten note and tailored company information within a week after the event. Create a whitepaper, or other high-value information product, related to the content of the show, and send it out via email marketing. Make sure that you keep those leads warm, and get them comfortably-situated into your conversion funnel.
We have tons of ideas that can elevate your trade show booth above the crowd. If you’re curious to hear a few of them, give us a call. Unless you really want to stick with that basic black table drape and self-printed tri-fold brochures?