Trade Show Marketing

One of the common misperceptions about exhibiting at trade shows is that just showing up is enough to make the event a success. While many businesses are lucky and invariably have a decent experience at a trade show the opportunity cost of not preparing is worth considering.

The first thing you need to know about trade shows is that studies show that 60% of attendees pre-plan what exhibitors they plan to see. Anyone that has been at a trade show has seen people who walk purposefully down an aisle not glancing left or right…they are on a mission to get to a particular booth…likely because they pre-planned their show floor time. This is a call to pre-show marketing! 

All shows provide attendee lists that exhibitors can market too (sometimes the list provided as a part of your exhibiting fee, others charge extra for it), few however, will make email addresses available which means you likely will need to do direct mail campaign. Many businesses treat pre-show marketing as an after thought or don’t include that in their event budget…this is probably a mistake given how many people pre-plan their show floor time.

Another common marketing  mistake is not having a clear objective for the show. This means you will have difficulty measuring the effectiveness or return on your investment. By the way, don’t confuse marketing effectiveness with sales effectiveness. A trade show isn’t going to typically generate sales…but will identify qualified leads or sales opportunities. So this is what you should be measuring not closed sales.  

I’ll continue on trade show marketing in my next posting.

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