For both B2B and B2C brands, trade shows represent a tremendous opportunity to bring together large audiences of influencers, prospects, and buyers. That said, they can also represent a tremendous amount of time and cost.
So what can you do to ensure the financial and physical resources that trade shows require generate a high return on your investment? Quit thinking of your event as an isolated event.
Quit thinking of your event as an isolated event.
A lot of marketers focus their time and budget on what happens at the event — the booth, the onsite collateral, the bag stuffers, and premium items. While all of these are important, you'll see better results if you think of the event as one touch point in a larger campaign and strategically weave in pre- and post-show touch points.
Pre-show, promote your attendance at the event via your website, email, direct mail, and social media — all with a consistent call to action that generates a visit to your booth or a meeting. Your goal here is to create as much awareness as possible about the fact that you're going to be at the event and start to secure engagements with your target audiences. As a rule of thumb, include 5-7 touch points for optimal response rates.
You want to generate as much traffic to your booth as humanly possible. The best way to do that is to develop a trade show experience that creates buzz. You want each booth visitor to tell five other attendees that they need to visit you and see what cool things you're doing. Use a combination of print and digital tactics to get people to your booth, and then gamify their experience so that they need to engage or compete with others in order to enter and win a giveaway. In our experience, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have proven to be very successful tools for this.
After the show, it's all about follow up. Email or call your booth visitors as soon as possible, while you and your brand are still top of mind. Use whatever data you were able to collect at the show to make that initial engagement meaningful. And keep it short. Remember, this is likely a new prospect, so don't try to overdo it on that first call. "I remember you mentioned wanting more information on our process. I'd love to take you through a demo."
Attendees aren't the only ones who should get follow up. There will be folks who couldn't make the event, but you can still use your presence there to start a conversation with them. Reach out to your current customers and prospects and share what it was you did at the event — released a new product, delivered a presentation they may find valuable, put out a new sample book. All of these are great reasons to get in front of your audience.
This larger ongoing campaign — pre-show, onsite, and post-show — is essential to generating the greatest return on your trade show investment. If you want to chat about your upcoming event, contact us for a free consultation.
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