Effective Pre-Show Marketing
Your major goal when exhibiting at a trade show is to get in front of more qualified prospects.
To maximise your chances, I suggest you take the following steps:
- Start communicating with registered attendees.
You’ll get a pre-registration list from your show management. If not ask for it.
Not everybody on this list will be in your target market, so start by culling the list to avoid a scatter gun approach. This is will save you money and time, as you don’t mail out to everyone.
Once you have the list, create an invitation, explaining to them who you’re looking for and why they should visit your booth. This will very clearly separate the wheat from the chaff, which is exactly what you want.
See below for suggestions on creating a multiple-touch promotion.
- Inform your existing clients, and prospects that you’ll be exhibiting at the trade show, and give them reasons why they should be visiting you there.
You know that these people are already interested in doing business with you, so encourage them to come and see you.
Worst case scenario will be that they can’t make it to the show. However you’ve created an opportunity to keep in touch with your clients by letting them know what it is you’re doing and offering.
Create a multiple-touch promotion
It’s rare for someone to respond the first time they see something. Therefore it’s imperative you create a multiple-touch sequence that contacts your clients and prospects in different ways.
Use a combination of email, FAX, postcards, SMS, and physical letters to contact your list.
And if you think this is not worth doing – here’s a real example of why you should...
A client reported a physical letter they sent to a client got blocked by his PA. However a personalised FAX got through. The client attended the show and won a prize worth $900!
Make sure your message is clear and concise and attracts qualified leads only. (If you’re unsure of how to do this, engage us to write your copy)
Make sure your prospects understand very clearly why they will benefit from visiting you at the show.
People are busy and plan their activities well in advance. So make sure this mail out reaches your prospect at least 30 days before the start of the show.
Then send out a series of reminders using different modalities.
Reminders which include plans for the event, new products you’re launching, and other events including social function you’ll be hosting.
If appropriate, offer an opportunity to book appointments with you.
Here are some additional tactics for pre-show promotion:
- Produce stickers with Trade show name, city, date and booth number and include them in every mail out. They can be included in letters, invoices, put up on your website etc.
- Create a specific website for your trade show attendance, highlighting all the activities, new products etc, for the show. Populate it with press releases, product announcements etc.
- Mail out free entry passes. (Consult with show management, it should however also be in their interest to get more visitors to the event)
- If you can create a two part product, mail out the first part and have them pick up the second part at the show.
- Send a letter or email with the floor plan and highlight the location of your booth.
- Advertise your presence in industry publications.
- Have gifts that can be redeemed at the booth. Don’t do this with everyone, restrict it to key people you want to visit the stand.
- Offer time and/or a limited number of incentives to create a sense of exclusivity, scarcity and urgency. e.g. First 100 people get some prize/special deal etc.
- A daily prize draw can work wonders. Note however that you should target the prize to the type of prospect you want to attract. If it’s a general show, free holidays work well. However, if it’s a trade show, the prize should only attract qualified prospects.
An example is a Welding Manufacture client of ours who gave away a Welding Helmet worth $900. Only people in his target market would be interested and put their names into the hat.
- Use testimonials of clients talking about your products and services and how valuable they found previous shows.
- Try bulky mail to get past the gatekeeper.
- In case you’re buying a list, cull it first – before sending out anything. Eliminate all competitors, other exhibitors etc, from the list before you start your campaign.
- Use the trade show logo in all your communications – this will catch peoples’ attention.
- PERSONALISE your communication, the “Dear friend” approach doesn’t work.
- Create special trade show offers (don’t discount, add value instead).
- Contact last years visitors and invite them back.
- Send a personalised letter from the managing director, explaining why he/she thinks they should attend (If possible use personalised letter head, good quality paper and signed personally).
- Have sales people call up customers and prospects to extend invitations about a month before the show and have them take appointments during the quietest times of the show. Confirm the appointment by letter or email and send an SMS reminder the day before the appointment.
- Ensure staff availability for set appointments, and make sure seniority levels are matched.
Now you may find that not all of the suggestions are applicable for you... Take the ones that make sense to you.
Make sure you’re not sending out duplicate invitations. Cross check your own customer and prospect list with the pre-registration list you get from the show organisers.