The constantly-connected world in which we live has helped fuel the misconception that marketing should be focused solely on online output. But, research indicates there’s still a need for personal, human connection. A recent study found 80 percent of marketers believe event marketing is critical to a business’ success.
Building personal relationships with prospective customers and vendors can be the difference-maker that achieves business and marketing goals. Trade shows, for example, offer great opportunities to build brand awareness, nurture current customer relationships, and generate leads. They prove to be particularly vital in B2B marketing or if your business falls within a niche industry.
Success at a trade show, though, is not guaranteed. Anyone inexperienced with participating in such events might not know how to best unlock their full marketing potential. So, to ensure you make the most out of your next trade show experience, we’ve collated five valuable tips to help you attract people to your booth, stand out amongst competitors, and leave attendees with a lasting impression.
1. Identify goals
Creating a list of detailed, measurable goals will keep your trade show representatives focused and motivated. It’s insufficient to say you’re using the event to “generate leads.” A better, more specific goal would be to “gain 20 percent more leads than were acquired at last year’s trade show.” Once appropriate goals are identified, create a plan outlining what your team will do to meet them and how success will be measured.
2. Design your booth strategically
You may have come across this problem when driving past a billboard along the highway: the message gets lost because there’s too much text or the design is too complex. In both scenarios, the intended audience (you in the car) did not have enough time to read and process all the presented information.
The same considerations must be applied to trade show displays. Ensure key messages are easily readable by designing them to be higher than three feet off the ground. The text should be brief and kept to 2 or 3 large headlines that can be read from a distance. Reinforce the company’s brand through strategic placement of its logo.
3. Focus on engagement
Put yourself in the shoes of someone attending the trade show. What will grab the attention of your target buyer? What imagery is going to resonate with them? What will make your interaction memorable?
For example, a travel agency could turn its booth into a tropical getaway, with all promotional swag aligning with the theme. Virtual reality could be used to create an immersive trip to the beach, and the raffle giveaway could be a stay at an all-inclusive resort.
4. Survey your target market
Industry events deliver a captive audience of people within your target market, offering direct interaction that can help develop future business and marketing strategies. Distribute a survey, conduct interviews or lead a focus group to glean data from prospective customers and vendors. Giveaways and raffles can be used to incentivize participation.
5. Follow up on leads and nurture connections
After the event, your marketing team must prioritize following up with booth visitors using lead data collected during the show. Paper forms, physical business cards, scanned business cards, scanned badges, and attendee lists are all useful ways to get your “foot in the door” in making contact and securing new customers.
To get their attention and set yourself apart from competitors, consider sending handwritten notes to prospects thanking them for their time. Once the initial follow-up communication is sent, add the new contacts to a drip marketing campaign that will help nurture the new relationships, further educate them about your offerings, and continue the conversation efficiently in the digital realm.
It’s important to remember there’s no “secret formula” that guarantees trade show success. And while large events always bring an element of unpredictability, any strategy can be improved over time if a company evaluates each trade show experience. What worked well? What missed the mark? What did you see working for other exhibitors? Did you achieve the specific, measurable goals created before the event? The answers shape the starting point of your strategy for the next event.
Need help sharpening your tactical tools for trade shows? At Baer Performance Marketing, boosting brand awareness and attracting leads is what we do best. Contact our team of trade show experts to maximize the ROI of your next event.