Trade shows don’t have the importance they once did in the business world primarily due to the development of the Internet and on-line services but they are still a great way to take your product to the wider world.
If you’ve had mixed results from exhibiting at shows in the past, you probably need to look at how you can make a better impact at these events.You may have seen the foot-fall at your stand but did you get the right type of visitor to convert them into sales. Ultimately, did you see a return on your investment for participating?
Here are a few strategies which you can use to help make more of these opportunities when you next exhibit.
Pre-event promotional campaign
Creating a campaign that runs in the build-up to a the show will provide the best chance of increasing the number of customers to your stand and exposure in the media. This doesn’t have to be expensive. A preview press release sent using a free press release distribution service such as prlog.com or your-story.org can attract interest which can be linked to via Twitter and LinkedIn announcements. If you have a blog, use it with teaser messages and make sure you email your customers and prospects with some background on the event which also gives you the opportunity to advertise your social networking activity. The beauty of social networking is that you can repeat your message in a number of different way. It can include details of who is attending, products being promoted, times of presentations and contact information.
Discuss publicity options the event organisers
Always look to work with the show organisers to explore publicity opportunities well in advance. This may just be a case of emailing the organisers in the first instance to see which different methods are available but be prepared to offer a name for the purpose interview whether for on-line, print, or audio-visual purposes. Many trade shows have an event program so make sure to check if there’s editorial space available.
Contact journalists and publications covering the event
Research which journalists are covering the event through industry news services and contact them where possible. This will be a great way to build up a contacts database and will help you forge stronger links within the industry media. This may in turn yield opportunities for follow-up articles on show participation and other projects you are working on.
Generate interest using on-line forums
Promoting your attendence at an event using Internet forums can yield unexpected results through new prospects and feedback. You can answer questions and offer up to date information on your plans for the trade show. Again, teaser statements will generate interest amongst your readership.
Produce a press pack
To help you stand out from the crowd it is advisable to roduce a press pack for the press room or for display on your stand. Printed copies could feature items such as a press release, a company newsletter or brochure, leaflets, business cards and special offers for event attendees. This could also be available in an electronic format including video and interactive material.
Visit the event Media Centre
Most trade shows will have a press or media centre which means you will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with journalists looking for a story. This is another chance to build relationships with those best placed to raise your profile in industry news media.
Be an event speaker and/or run a seminar
Even the shortest speaking opportunities are a great way to get yourself known in your industry. Put yourself or a colleague forward to the event organisers as a potential speaker or run a seminar or demonstration from your own from your stand if space allows.
Create your own content
Digital cameras and even top-end mobiles can produce still and video footage that can be distributed in real-time via social networking. Post an interview clip on a dedicated YouTube channel and link from a blog or a Twitter account but only if the footage is of professional quality. Any imagery you produce can always used in promotional literature and communications later if you feel you require more time for editing.
Be available for interviews
Whether it is at the venue or someone from your office, make time slots available for company spokespeople to give interviews with media outlets and event organisers. For those off-site all you would need to do is for a well-briefed individual to set aside a clear period of time in the diary to receive calls and be ready to take them.
Make sure you send journalists and media outlets a follow up communication straight after the event. If this is seen on screen when the covering journalist returns to their desk, it will keep your organisation in the forefront of the their mind for when he/she writes up about proceedings.
Many people make the mistake of just turning up for a trade show and expect the sales to come rolling in. In truth, an event lasts for several weeks with both pre and post-event promotional activity, not just the show itself. The secret is planning – If you get it right, there is a huge opportunity to really make a name for yourself and your organisation.