Exhibitions are a major marketing commitment – sometimes even the biggest – for a small business so it pays to make your investment work some magic.
The work begins long before you await prospective customers in your shiny newly built exhibition space, but done correctly it can pay big dividends. Any exhibition related marketing activity should encourage prospects to visit you at the show so they can look at your product and meet your staff.
Here are some steps to ensure that marketing hits the right spot:
1. Target the right people
Go through your database and choose the clients and prospects you want to concentrate on. All your exhibition marketing must be tailored for these people.
2. Market before the exhibition
a) Determine your key messages and objectives to create an integrated campaign that communicates those points. Send a personal email or hand-written card inviting those you want to see to the exhibition. Use this invitation to highlight any special deals or trials you will have at the show as part of your pre-event marketing.
b) Start following all the organisations you’d like to meet at the exhibition on social media, including potential customers, suppliers, complimentary businesses. Engage with them about the conference, what is happening in your industry and your business (ie what you are planning for your stand, developments with your products/services etc) and respond to their updates. Share interesting articles about your industry and find out the hashtag for the conference so you can use that in anything you post relating the event.
c) Put together a media release about your involvement with in the exhibition and what you will be releasing/showing at the event to send out to your target media.
3. Work with the exhibition organiser’s marketing
Subscribe to the event newsletter and the associated social media accounts to keep on top of any PR opportunities that are presented for exhibitors, such as case studies in media articles about the event, features in upcoming newsletters, mentions on social media etc.
Contact the event manager/marketing manager to find out what marketing opportunities are available for exhibitors and take advantage of any you think are suitable.
4. Link marketing activity with sales promotion
Build you client database by asking everyone who you speak with to give you some basic information. As an incentive they can be entered into a draw for a major prize or be given a small branded token. This relatively simple task allows you to attract, qualify and retain customers.
5. Organise on-stand activity
Attendees always respond to a fun activity so try a chocolate wheel that can be spun for a prize, or a treasure hunt through the exhibition that starts and finishes at your stand. Another alternative is to have staff handing out branded gifts, like chocolates, sweets, stress shapes or sample bags.
6. Less is more in your stand design
Keep your stand design simple and include a range of graphics, media and technology to showcase your product or message. Design and market around one ‘hero’ product or service. Stick to the theme by using toning colours and images and consider including an element positioned above the stand, like a banner or revolving sign, to draw visitors’ attention from across the exhibition space.
Consider promoting trials of your focus product using a booking schedule so potential customers will have a staff member on hand for questions.
7. No room for Chinese whispers
You and your staff need to be using the same information when speaking with prospects. There’s nothing worse than two customers comparing notes over a drink and discovering one got a completely different deal simply because they spoke to a different staff member.
Have a marketing plan prepared before the exhibition, including costs and show deals, and give it to everyone working on the stand. Outline the end cost, not just the percentage off or multiple sale discounts, in the plan and your stand marketing material so your staff – and the customer – know exactly how much they will save by buying at the show.
8. Follow up
After packing everything away and putting your feet up after the exhibition it’s easy to forget there’s still more to do. Contact your potential and existing customers, those who signed up to receive information and those who booked a trial to remind them about the exhibition deals and turns those leads into sales.
What marketing methods work for you when you’re exhibiting?