Since you are reading this post, you certainly know know that exhibiting at tradeshows takes significant time and resources. For many firms, it is the most important and most expensive line item in their market budgets. Regardless of budget size, successful exhibitors know it is the planning and execution of the thousands of detailed tasks that all must come together to make a ‘good show’.
With so much going on before the show, one of the most neglected, yet most important items on an exhibitor’s ‘to-do’ list is to invite people to visit their booth. As an exhibitor, I’ve been guilty of waiting until the last minute to invite my customers. As tradeshow management, I’ve witnessed time and time again companies spending thousands of dollars on booths, displays, product samples, lodging, transportation, meals and entertainment and then never getting around to actually inviting anyone to see them – or worse yet, incorrectly thinking ‘if I build it, they will come’.
Below are a few of the tips I’ve learned for getting people to visit your booth.
1. Enlist your sales team to pre-schedule appointments with key accounts
Do this in advance. You’d hate for a key account to miss seeing the launch of your new product because your sales rep was busy or not otherwise available.
2. Invite your customers using your existing communications
Add show dates and booth information to your email signature
Add it to your sales teams’ email signature (better still, ask for an appointment)
Post your show participation prominently on your website, blog, Facebook and Twitter
Ask your tradeshow organizer to provide you their show logo image file in hi-resolution and use it for your sales and marketing communications.
3. Take full advantage of the tradeshow’s online directory
Tradeshow organizers have limited marketing budgets too; however they are almost universally investing to upgrade their online interactive tools for show planning, matchmaking, social media and more. Follow their investment lead and use their tools to the fullest extent possible to enable customers and prospective customers find you.
Cost: $0 to minimal
4. Email invitations to your customer list
Email is inexpensive and great for managing customer relationships. Be sure to invite your customers and let them know you want to see them.
5. Direct mail invitations to both your customers and prospects
Direct mail remains very effective at getting your message out, particularly for prospecting, and should be a part of the media mix for any marketing plan. Given the total investment you are making to exhibit in a show, incremental spending for direct mail invitations may truly enhance your ROI. Also talk to your show organizer. Often they provide direct mailing lists of the show’s attendees (while withholding emails). Disclaimer: Of course we know direct mail works – providing exhibitors with convenient, affordable direct mail solutions are the business models for this blog and Expo-Commerce.com.
Cost: Minimal to significant
6. Be an event sponsor and advertiser
There is no better way to standout from the hundreds or even thousands of other exhibiting companies than sponsorships and advertising. Contact your show organizer for available opportunities. Also, chances are they practice consultative or solution selling and can work with you to customize ways to enhance your firm’s visibility and help drive booth traffic, leads and sales.
Cost: Minimal to significant to substantial
Reminder within the reminder: Choose the right marketing message
While reaching the right audience is most important component for successful direct marketing efforts, next in importance is delivering the right message. A targeted message should always include a call to action and be measurable. A good call to action might be: Call for an appointment (and track calls to the phone number). A better call to action might be: bring this invitation to booth #1234 and get 10% off your first order or enter our exclusive drawing for an iPad (and keep track of cards brought to the booth). Better still might be: by invitation only, meet Beyonce in-person at 4pm on Friday (and prepare for an overflow crowd). Watch for more posts about messaging and in-booth marketing on this blog.
Cost: $0 to significant to substantial
I hope these tips help ensure you have a ‘good show’ with solid booth traffic, leads, sales and return on investment (ROI).