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Trade Show Marketing: Definition, Planning and Strategies

One of the most effective ways to build brand visibility in your target market from people who already have a potential interest in your product or services is through trade shows. These large-scale industry events provide an excellent opportunity to network directly with potential clients.

This handy guide to effective trade show marketing will help you develop a strategy that will go a long way in making a big impact and generating leads for your business.

What is trade show marketing?

Trade show marketing refers to brands and businesses showcasing their latest products and services at an industry-specific event. These events not only offer businesses the opportunity to market themselves to attendees, but also provide the chance to gather competitive intelligence from other companies in attendance.

Trade shows have excellent marketing potential due to the sheer number of prospective customers that companies can target and communicate to. Most brands and businesses install trade show displays with video screens, printed signage, marketing materials and knowledgeable sales representatives to showcase their products and services.

The difference between B2C and B2B trade show marketing

The main difference between B2B and B2C trade show marketing is the target audience profile. B2C trade shows are intended to promote to companies that sell products or services to consumers, while B2B events are tailored for businesses that sell to other businesses.

B2C trade shows are primarily aimed at consumers, who are more inclined to buy early if certain products or services resonate with them. It can be difficult to build strong connections with any one person at B2C venues when there are hundreds or thousands of people in attendance. As such, it is all the more important to make your booth stand out from the crowd.

B2B trade shows are geared toward selling to other companies and typically require dealing with multiple contacts, which can take longer for final buying decisions to be reached. Exhibitors will often need to spend more time building relationships with different contacts after the event is wrapped up.

Trade show marketing plan

Creating an effective trade show marketing strategy requires some planning in advance. Take care of the following elements before diving into the marketing strategies you will use to engage your target audience.

Define your goals

As with any other marketing initiative, you will need to plan your strategy around a set of core objectives and KPIs.

Clearly defined goals will help you measure the impact of your show participation by tracking event data, ensure that you have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and that all employees are firmly committed to achieving it.

Choose the right events to attend

Once your goals have been clearly defined, you will want to choose the most relevant trade shows to attend to achieve your objectives. Make a list of trade shows that target your industry or your ideal customers and narrow it down to the ones that make the most sense for different considerations:

  • Timing of a new product launch
  • Budget
  • Distance to travel
  • Staff availability

Prepare your booth

Perhaps the most important aspect of trade show marketing is your booth design. Your booth should be appealing to your ideal customer and displayed in a way that captures the attention of participants as they walk by.

There are many booth design options available including modular booths and portable booths so make sure you do some research beforehand. You will also want to consider details that are sometimes overlooked such as booth lighting and digital signage. The more your booth design stands out, the more likely you are to attract attendees and achieve your goals.

Choose your booth staff

A good team can make or break your objectives at a trade show. When choosing booth staffers, opt for team members that have experience in sales and customer interactions if you want the best results.

You will also want to ensure you have someone present at your booth at all times. This typically means having a minimum of 2 employees staffing your booth, with 3 or 4 being an ideal number of staffers.

Prepare trade show marketing materials

Allocate some of your trade show budget on marketing materials that will grab attention and keep potential buyers interested after the event. Here are some of the most effective marketing materials you can bring to a trade show:

  • Business cards
  • Merchandise or promotional items
  • Brochures
  • Samples
  • Banners and posters
  • Loyalty or rewards cards

Trade show marketing strategies

Now that you have clearly defined goals, know which trade shows you will be attending, have selected your staff and budgeted for marketing materials, you can start thinking about the most effective marketing strategies to use before, during and after the event.

Pre-show marketing strategies

Before the trade show is when you will want to promote your presence at the event. Here are some of the best pre-event marketing strategies.

  • Social media marketing: Organizers will surely make use of social media to promote their trade shows. Utilize hashtags for the event to promote your business and raise awareness of your brand.
  • Website and blog promotion: One of the best ways to let customers know you will be participating in a trade show is to announce it on your website. Create and share a blog post about the trade show you will be attending with links to the event registration page.
  • Email marketing: Promote your trade show attendance with a trade show invitation email to your existing customers. This will help you draw more traffic to your booth and generate more sales.

Marketing strategies during the show

There are various marketing tactics you can employ at the trade show to attract more attendees and help you achieve your goals. Here are some the most effective marketing strategies to use during the event:

  • Give out marketing freebies: Supplying attendees with marketing materials at your booth is an easy way to give them a memorable experience while promoting your brand. As mentioned earlier, these might include brochures, promotional items, rewards cards, free samples and more.
  • Run a contest or giveaway: A trade show contest is a great way to engage potential customers, promote your brand and collect contact info for post-event targeting. Giveaways of your merchandise or free products, services or demos are effective ways to generate brand awareness.
  • Interactive product demos: Another great way to drive traffic to your booth is with hands-on demonstrations that allow visitors to directly experience your products or services. This is where having friendly booth staff comes in helpful, since demos should be a guided experience that walks your guests through each step.

Post-show marketing strategies

Last but certainly not least are the marketing strategies you will want to employ after the trade show. Maintaining engagement with your leads and prospects after the trade show is especially important for post-event success.

  • Follow up with leads: After a trade show, follow up with leads to strengthen your engagement and guide them through the sales funnel to a purchase. This is most typically done with the help of an email campaign.
  • Measure your KPIs: As mentioned earlier, it is important to have clearly defined goals in order to measure your success after a trade show. When all is said and done, take stock of your KPIs so that you can adjust your marketing strategies for future events.

Trade show marketing with totm exposition

While trade shows can be intimidating (particularly your first event), your participation can have a meaningful impact on your revenues if you have a well-defined marketing strategy in advance. And since all trade show marketing efforts essentially revolve around your booth, it’s important to make sure that your design stands out from the crowd.

totm exposition is a global leader in trade show booth design and manufacturing and is always ready to create a stellar booth for your next trade show event. Get in touch with us now to discuss your needs or if you have any questions about our turnkey booth design services.