Trade shows can be wonderful opportunities to collaborate with your peers, learn the newest trends or technologies affecting your industry, and create new relationships with potential partners and clients. However, they can also require a significant investment of time, resources, staff, and money.
As B2B marketing experts, we’ve helped quite a few clients create trade show booths, marketing materials, and digital design pieces to maximize their company’s presence at a trade show. We have also attended our fair share of trade shows in the B2B marketing world. In my experience, there are several steps that B2B firms should take to really get the most out of their trade show investment and ensure their time (and money) are well spent.
Collect Visitor Information
Have a plan to collect the information of individuals who visit your trade show booth. Many trade shows provide you with scanners to scan a person’s badge. Follow up by sending attendees an email that thanks them for stopping by and provides relevant thought leadership content. If you can personalize these emails with specific content pieces related to their needs, do it.
Alternatively, have an iPad setup where visitors can sign up to receive additional information. Make sure that they have an option to get on the list to receive your company’s email newsletter. If they aren’t ready to buy now, email newsletters work as a great lead nurturing tool.
Host Games or Contests
The competition on the trade show floor can be pretty steep and you may only have a small amount of time with visitors. Rather than just doling out company propaganda, provide an interactive activity or contest to engage your audience. Have a great raffle prize like an iPad, Fitbit, or an expensive bottle of wine. As a bonus to making contact and getting your brand in front of visitors, you can collect their contact information. Other great booth draws include quiz games, putting greens, spinning wheels, and less expensive giveaways to capture people walking by.
Don’t Skimp on Your Booth
We understand that trade shows can be expensive to attend, with the investment in airfare, exhibition fee, hotels, and even your employees’ time away from their regular duties. But your booth design is not where you should be saving your pennies. Even if you have a smaller booth, don’t skimp by just getting some cheap roll-up banners. There are very affordable larger displays with professional graphics that can make your company look polished. After all, after investing all those resources, why would you want your company to look cheap or unprofessional?
Maximize Your Branding Opportunity
A trade show is a great way to put your brand in front of prospects or reinforce your branding with existing clients. Invest in compelling promotional items to get visitors to your booth. The booths with enticing giveaways always get more buzz. People love free things. My favorite giveaway is a quality tote in your company colors with a large logo. Attendees walking around the tradeshow will use your tote to carry all the other stuff they collect. Before you know it, your brand name and color is all over the conference. Visitors will literally be carrying around your logo like mobile billboards.
Get Active on Social Media
Gain exposure by posting on your firm’s social media channels before, during, and after the trade show. Most conferences have hashtags, so don’t forget to include those and link up with other attendees. This also lets your company’s followers know you are attending the conference if they’d like to stop by and say hi. It can be a great way to create another touchpoint for existing clients or prospects that you are nurturing.
Take Advantage of Speaking Opportunities
If the conference or trade show offers speaking opportunities and your company has thought leaders who can put together a relevant presentation, take advantage of it. You can cross promote your exhibit and speaking engagement, maximizing your trade show investment. The best part is that it positions your company as a thought leader in the industry and gives you high visibility in a room full of your prospects.
Focus on Educational Materials
Ditch the big capabilities brochure and provide a professionally designed guide or white paper instead. Content marketing pieces that educate prospects about your products and services are a great resource to take to shows. Of course, you still want visitors to know what you do, so you can always have a smaller company overview handout or include it at the end of your guide or white paper.
Exhibiting at a trade show is a pricey marketing endeavor, so if you are going to do it, make sure to budget properly to ensure its success.