How to maximize return on your trade show investment

How to maximize return on your trade show investment

Participating in a trade show is always a heavy investment. Not only in marketing budget but also in internal resources to get everything ready for the event. But if you do your marketing homework, you can get much more out of this investment than just a successful show. Here is how you can get more ROI before, during and after the show.

Organizing a trade show booth is such a challenging task under time pressure that exhibitors tend to focus all their attention on getting everything done for the show itself. Of course, this is essential. But you can achieve much more marketing impact buy building a whole campaign around your show participation. A campaign that will increase the reach of the exhibition itself and stretch the time frame in which you address your audience.

Before the show: Build up momentum

Before the show, your goal is to drive as much traffic as possible to your booth. Visitors must consider your booth as a must-see when planning their walk through the show. You shouldn’t start too early, because people will not pay attention to something too far ahead, but you can actually start your campaign several weeks before the show to progressively build up a momentum of curiosity and excitement. This is particularly true if you are introducing a brand new product or technology at the show: make sure every knows upfront that something big is coming up at your booth. Even people who don’t attend the show will want to learn more and contact you!

There are may ways to achieve that – here a few examples:

  • Create a dedicated campaign and run online and/or even print advertising in key media teasing your new product and announcing its presentation at your booth (include show logo and booth number in your artwork)
  • Send out a preview press release to the media at least four weeks before the show (so print media have a chance to publish it in their show issue).
  • Offer free entry tickets to the show to your customers and prospects via newsletter, social media, etc.
  • Plan a social media preview with a series of posts highlighting the top innovations showcased at your booth

Disclose enough content to make people excited and curious, but you don’t have to tell the full story, especially for an all-new product to be released at the show. Don’t blow all you ammunition at once and keep some for the show itself. For example, announce a brand new product with a few key facts but disclose the full specs only at the show. That way, interested visitors have a good reason to stop by your booth to learn more.

During the show: Fight for attention

During the show, every exhibitor is competing for visitors’ attention, so you need to be creative. Your goal is that everyone should be talking about you, your booth and your new product. Here are some ideas to reach that goal:

  • Try to be creative with your demos. Are people going to stop to watch yet another turntable or conveyor belt with a camera pointed at it? The ideal demo is different, fun and interactive.
  • Think of ways to have visitors interact with the demo and be encouraged to do so, for example with a lucky draw.
  • Think of original corporate gifts. Instead of the usual pen, maybe some branded candies or a useful tool is the better choice. One of my former companies used to offer delicious banana milkshakes at their booth and that alone drove a lot of traffic!
  • Participate in the conference. Giving a speech about your new product will give you additional exposure to the show attendance.
  • Organize a press conference if you have some exciting new technology.

But don’t forget about all the people of your target audience who are NOT attending the show! Use the platform of your booth to inform and entertain them online, for example with:

  • Behind the scenes photos of build up/dismantling on social media
  • Short videos of your demos or interviews of your experts
  • Recording of your conference presentation
  • Sharing the video content/presentations you may have running on your booth
  • a virtual, interactive version of your booth on your website

At the show, you have your products, live demos, your experts and a branded environment (your booth) all at the same time and the same place. Use this unique opportunity to generate as much content as possible that you’ll be able to use after the show in a lot of different ways. Make photos of your booth, shoot video interviews of your booth staff, capture videos of your demos, etc. Even if you don’t use all of it for your live social media posts, this is great material for your post-show campaign.

After the show: Expand the reach

Even if you are tired and relieved after the show closed its gates, your campaign is not over yet! Your goal is now to keep the momentum up as long as possible and make sure your audience remembers your key innovations. Here are some ideas of how to do it:

  • Send a “thank you” email to all your visitors within three days at the latest, including a review of the highlights of your booth. There are even automated systems that send such an email within hours after the prospect visited your booth.
  • Send a review of your show highlights to your newsletter mailing list so everyone knows, even if they were not at the show.
  • Sort and edit the content you captured at the booth and publish it on social media. Don’t release it all at once, but rather in small pieces of content every few days. You can also consider translating some of this content for people from the other side of the world who could not attend that special show.

These are just a few examples. There are many more ways to maximizing your trade show investment by stretching its reach in time and space and turning it into an online content marketing investment that will fuel your leads funnel over several months. But most of the time, the challenge is that all your resources are concentrated on getting the booth done (before), serving your visitors (during) and following up on leads (after the show).

At Vision Markets, we have the expertise to find the creative ideas that will make you stand out of the crowd and the resources to make these ideas reality. Contact us to leverage on your show investment and make the most out of every dollar/euro you spend!

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