Ways to UP your Trade Show Marketing Program

May 21, 2024

Isn't digital marketing simply incredible? From its elegant solutions, intricate insights, to the ability to target an audience with precision, it's no surprise that marketing has experienced tremendous growth since this trend took off.  Yet, seasoned marketers often highlight the distinct advantages that traditional and in-person marketing brings to the table.  Direct contact with customers, instant, authentic feedback, and old-fashioned selling still can-do wonders for your brand and bottom line.  And a popular and successful avenue for in-person marketing is attending trade shows. In fact, their popularity the world over has only grown in the last few years, with many shows going digital to pivot in the pandemic. 

Whether small or big, trade shows are a brilliant opportunity for brands of all industries. Irrespective of being a product or a service firm, you can leverage these events to take your business to new heights. Before we discuss that more, let’s take a brief look at the importance of trade shows and trade show marketing for brands of all sizes.  

Why Trade Show Marketing?

Attending trade shows allows you to expand your horizons and reach more customers. But booking a booth and just showing up cannot be enough. At any trade show, there will be thousands of participants and many of them will be your direct competitors. Being in such close quarters with them, vying for attention from the same customer base, you must stand out. And that is what Trade Show Marketing strategies help you do. By leveraging marketing techniques to level up your trade show expeditions, you can:

Improve brand awareness for your business amongst a niche target audience. Seeing your presence in a popular trade show and learning about your product will make it easier for customers to recall your brand. trade show marketing

  • Enhance the traffic and estimated walk-in at your booth by promoting your brand, products, and the many offers one can avail of from your booth at the trade show. The more the customers see you and your brand in and outside the show floor, the more likely they are to visit. 
  • Generate qualified leads from customers who are genuinely interested in your product/services. Via trade show marketing, you can market your products and services directly and interest them in connecting with you beyond the trade show as well. These attendees become qualified leads for your brand. 

Trade show marketing is an important part of making your presence at these events a genuine success. But how do you ensure you get the most out of those marketing campaigns?

Visual aids are your best bet on a crowded trade show floor. In trade show marketing, you want the customer to spot your booth and get attracted enough to engage with you. And what better way to do it than via marketing designs that educate, inform, and entertain your customer base?

Trade show marketing begins by you setting a healthy and measurable goal for this exercise. You must understand and choose between brand awareness or comparative marketing so that the designs can achieve those goals. 

An analysis of the trade show floor and the booth layout can help you extract the most out of your marketing designs. And understanding the location, placement, and orientation of display of the creatives will help your designers design them better too.  

Before the Trade Show 

Trade show marketing begins much before the actual show goes live. For any of your trade show sales and marketing goals to come true, you need customers to come to your booth. And the best way to have guaranteed success is to begin promotions early. 

1) Website Refresh 

Chances are, most of your advertising and marketing campaigns divert back to your website. So, a place with so much web traffic is obviously where you must display information about your trade show participation. 

Some ways to do that include: 

  • Updated Homepage banner design with Trade Show details
  • A moving ticker with the announcement with a dedicated landing page with more details

2) Digital Ads

To make a good ROI on your attendance at these types of shows, many customers must interact with you. So, running advertisements on major digital platforms is a good idea: 

  • Opt for website banner ads on related websites to improve the awareness around your participation.
  • Run targeted social media ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to spread the word on the trade show.
  • Launch video ads marketing campaigning to promote your brand/product/service to generate interest among the customer base and increase awareness.

3) Pre-Event Social Media Marketing 

Advertisements are not the only way to promote your trade show participation on social media. With an active social media page, you can raise awareness and invite customers to come to see you with no paid promotion. Some designs that work great for trade show marketing on social media include: 

  • A video showcase of what is in store for the attendees at the trade show. This includes a product lineup, event lineup, giveaways, and other offerings you have. 
  • Giveaway or discount announcements for purchases made at the trade show to entice people to come over and check it out. 
  • Instagram Reels or short-form video content with footage of your team preparing and setting up for the trade show. 
  • Gamified content such as puzzles or quizzes with prizes customers can redeem in the trade show. 

4) Email Marketing 

Customers who come intending to buy are great. But customers who come intending to buy from you are the absolute best. Your email list has that customer set hidden in it. So, reach out to them via email marketing and promote your next trade show. These customers are mostly either qualified leads you sourced from other avenues or existing customers who will most likely buy from you again. 

Announcing your presence at the event and inviting them to see the special products and offers at your trade show can help you finally meet those subscribers.

5) Co-Branding Offline Ads 

Most trade shows have marketing campaigns in place to promote their event. A great way to promote your trade show participation is to create co-branded offline ads in association with the organizer.  Start by gaining access to their brand style guidelines and any best practices they have for co-branding. And then create:

  • Banners
  • Billboards
  • Posters for social media or email campaigns 

6) Local Marketing

Once the curtains are up on the trade show, you want to imprint your presence in there to your customers even before they reach the front doors. Local marketing is your way to achieve that. 

  • Start with billboards or other large signage that announce your participation, promote your products and services, and any specific offers at the trade show.
  • You can also experiment with banners near the trade show premises to guide customers to your trade show booth.

7) Booth Design 

So the customers are through the gates and are approaching your trade show booth. Here is where you bring out the big guns so that your trade show marketing becomes an instant hit. And that happens via your booth design.

Each plain surface of your trade show booth is a blank canvas that should become a place to display your marketing collateral. Some innovative ideas for a booth design that brings customers in and impresses them are: trade show booths

  • Treating the booth’s front face or facade as you would a storefront. Adorn them with your brand identity and a snapshot of your product/service catalog so that customers know what you do and what you offer instinctively. 
  • Once they are in, begin promoting your products. Yes, you can tell them everything, but we know visual aids work better. So, transform the booth walls into: 
  • Product display walls with tasteful decals or posters of your product range 
  • Educational platforms that display customer reviews, success statistics, product demonstration graphics, and infographics on your product/service. 
  • Entertainment zones with branded games centers, photo booths, and so much more. 

8) SWAG Design 

The customer came onto the floor, entered your booth, heard what you had to say, and took it all in. But the chances are slim that they will buy from you that very instant. Even if they come intending to buy, they will want to look around before making a choice. 

Goodies or SWAG, as the corporate world calls it, is your way to ensure that your message stays with the customer long after they step out of the booth. You can also design a SWAG bag to promote brand awareness, hand out merchandise, sample products, and other promotional material for the customer.

SWAG delights customers and is a great idea for customers who make purchases as well. Including promotional material such as posters, catalogs, and pamphlets in the SWAG bag will also help a busy customer to peruse the material at ease. 

9) Video Marketing Design

Visual aids work much better than the written word on its own. And studies show us that in visual aids, videos have the highest engagement rates. 

Classically, brands incorporate videos into their trade show marketing by using one of the booth walls as a projector wall. And there they play videos promoting their brand and services. Alternatively, you can also set up screens for these videos based on how your budget works out to be.  Some videos that can engage, entertain, and inform your customers during a trade show are:

  • Company introduction videos such as origin stories, founder interviews, Mission/vision videos, and a recap of  achievements. 
  • Product demo videos, including how-to videos, cinematic trailers, and feature overview videos. 
  • Testimonials and reviews from customers as social proof for the work you do.

After the Trade Show 

10) Email Marketing 

As they say, the buck does not stop when the show is over. You have a bank of qualified leads, and it becomes your duty to keep in touch with them. And the best way to do that is via email marketing.  Some newsletter ideas for trade show visitors once the show is over include:

  • A welcome email with a few curated products and ongoing discounts and promotions.
  • A highlight reel of the trade show and thanking them for their visit
  • Exclusive discount codes, early access to products, and sale announcements to reward them for signing up. 

11) Post-Event Social Media Marketing 

During or after the show, chances are many of your trade show attendees followed you on your social media profiles. You can track these new followers and reshare some of your old content to get them up to speed. 

Brands can also share real-time updates and reshare user-generated content on their social media handles during the trade show. If you did not, compile them all and create a highlight reel for your social media audience. It might encourage many to attend the next trade show you take part in.

In conclusion, trade show marketing presents a valuable opportunity for businesses to showcase their products or services, connect with customers, and drive brand awareness. By strategically planning and executing pre-event promotions, booth designs, SWAG offerings, and post-event follow-ups, brands can maximize their ROI and create lasting impressions on attendees. Whether integrating digital marketing tactics or leveraging traditional in-person strategies, trade shows remain a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. So, if you're looking to elevate your marketing efforts and expand your reach, consider incorporating trade shows into your overall marketing strategy. The blend of digital and in-person marketing can truly take your brand to new heights.

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