Introduction to top marketing ideas for trade shows: Exhibitors who know how to engage their visitors before the big day maximize their return on investment. It’s crucial to build and solidify relationships with attendees early on using marketing campaigns as thousands of exhibitors vie for the same attention. This keeps your organization at the forefront during the event.
In order to succeed in pre-show marketing, you need to be inventive with your pre-show communication strategies. According to EXHIBITOR’s 2017 Pre-Show Marketing Survey, 85% of exhibitors use some form of pre-show marketing.
Trade show marketing ideas like these have been done a million times before:
- Email blasts
- Social media updates
- Direct mailers
- Print advertisements
Using these pre-show tactics can still be effective when done correctly, but with so many exhibitors courting attendees ahead of a show, it takes a bit more effort to differentiate yourself from the competition.
A guide to Top Marketing Ideas for Trade Shows
Take advantage of these methods as you prepare for your next trade show to capture attendees’ attention before they even set foot on the floor!
Create a virtual pre-show event
People enjoy virtual events because they are convenient for them to attend. When they are properly hosted, virtual events can greatly boost engagement before the show. You may want to consider hosting:
- Virtual conference
- Live Q&A
- Trade show exhibits can demonstrate your brand’s expertise while providing value to attendees.
Take into consideration the problems your target audience faces as you plan. You can help your prospects solve these problems by demonstrating how your brand can help solve them at a trade show.
Online platforms such as GoToMeeting and Facebook Live make hosting virtual conferences easy. Engage your audience by answering their questions through live chat while broadcasting. Consider offering them a free download, like an eBook or whitepaper, that will enhance their impression of you and the value you provide. Thus, they will be primed for meeting you at the trade show. Make sure your materials about your virtual event have a strong call to action. During the trade show, it should encourage attendees to stop by your booth.
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Build excitement with pre-show gamification
The industry of trade shows is abuzz with talk of gamification, and for good reason. Taking online polls and implementing interactive assessments is a tried-and-true strategy for exhibitors because it engages even the most skeptical and lukewarm attendees.
Gamification is often used in trade show displays but is rarely used prior to the event. Using interactive content in email campaigns and mobile apps will give you a competitive edge.
For example, In addition to providing attendees with personalized recommendations based on their results, your organization could create a fun assessment that they can take. Consider creating a landing page that encourages visitors to set up a meeting with you at the show to discuss their results. As a result, it accomplishes the following:
- It directs them to your website,
- Builds anticipation before the show,
- and it also gives you a sense of how many people can attend your exhibit.
- Interactive polls and quizzes are also effective ways to get people to engage with your mobile app or open your emails.
You can drum up plenty of excitement for your upcoming trade show by using pre-show gamification!
Send a handwritten note to existing clients
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While it is exciting to generate new leads for your business, your existing clients are the real MVP. Recurring customers account for 40% of revenue, according to an Adobe report.
There are two main reasons why those people should visit your booth at the trade show:
- Your business will benefit from the social proof it provides.
- This allows you to build relationships with customers who don’t need to be convinced that you’re the right choice for them.
- Create handwritten invitations for existing clients and encourage them to attend the show. These days, handwritten notes are uncommon, so they have even more impact.
Be conversational. Please express your appreciation for their patronage and your excitement about the show. For example, “I appreciate you sticking with us for so long, (attendee’s name)!”. We wanted to personally invite you to (trade show event) on (date of event) because you are one of our VIP customers. We would love to show you a couple of new products!”
Be sure to time your note to arrive seven to ten days before the event. If you want to make your invitation more enticing, you can include a VIP pass to the show or a special discount on your product.
Use Geofencing to send targeted messages
Americans check their smartphones every 12 minutes, so it’s no surprise that location-based targeting is in demand. Geofencing is a location-based targeting technology that you may find useful if you are an exhibitor.
Geofencing can be compared to a digital fence. Upon entering this digital fence, anyone visiting a mobile web page is targeted with marketing messages.
For instance, You can create a zone around the hotel that trade show attendees will be visiting, and send targeted messages to encourage them to stop by your trade show booth.
Geofencing offers exhibitors a wide range of opportunities. To maximize your ads’ impact, test them in advance.
Plan an Employee Social Media Takeover
You can connect with attendees on a more personal level by inviting employees to take over social media. A team expert uses Facebook, Instagram, or another social media platform instead of the usual social media manager to:
- Take a look behind the scenes of your trade show preparations
- Release a teaser for a new product
- Follower comments should be responded to
By allowing a marketing or sales-oriented employee to share their unique perspective, two important things are accomplished:
Humanize your brand by doing this. It gives your social media accounts variety.
The setup of your booth on the show floor, it’s a great way to generate excitement.
Think outside the box when it comes to taking over. Provide attendees with tips, advice, or run a contest through Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. It’s a great opportunity to build buzz about your booth before people step foot inside.
Use Your Event App to Spark Pre-Show Engagement
Trade show apps are increasingly popular and for good reason. With sophisticated event apps, exhibitors can create a central hub where attendees can find all information they need about the event.
Trade show attendees can:
- Engage in online discussion forums with other attendees
- Find out about upcoming events and content
- You can also take quizzes and polls
- Push notifications will alert you to updates from your business
- In addition to providing benefits to attendees, mobile event apps make communication with attendees easier for your organization.
For instance, Sending an event app survey to attendees before the event could help you learn what attendees expect from the event. Based on their feedback, you have the opportunity to meet their needs.
You might consider getting a sponsor to pay for mobile event apps if they are out of your budget. In addition to improving exposure for sponsors, mobile event apps are also beneficial for exhibitors. You’ll be more likely to receive payment for your app as soon as your sponsor realizes this.
A trade show can be successful or unsuccessful based on the pre-show communication tactics that are used. Even if you spend a lot of money and time designing a customized booth for a trade show, if nobody knows about it, it is of no use to you!
Here are some trade show marketing ideas to grab your audience’s attention before the show and ensure qualified booth traffic. You will not only outshine the competition with your unique ideas, but you will also drive high-quality leads home from the trade show.
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