by e4 Design
Your trade show goals and marketing strategy may be just one part of your annual marketing strategy, but it is important to put as much thought into your pre-show marketing efforts as you put in to organizing and planning your trade show event. Your marketing strategy should focus around the reasons you are exhibiting and your event goals.
You’ve already put in the hard work of creating your goals when initially planning your trade show event. Now is the best time to figure out what message goes along with those goals. Can you tease an introduction to a new product or service? Will you have an exciting speaker or entertainment? Are you trying to set up meetings with leads? Are you planning on educating your customers on a specific topic?
Once you have decided on the perfect message to support your goals, the next step in pre-show marketing is deciding what methods will work to announce your trade show attendance. These 8 advertising techniques below highlight the pros and cons of each method, the targeted reach, and how they support different event goals.
Email Marketing Campaigns
Email marketing is a highly targeted method of advertising that allows you to build awareness, generate leads, introduce products, and pre-schedule appointments. Calls to action are easy to track – not only in the success of appointments scheduled, but also in tracking the interest. Most email marketing programs can track the number of people who opened the email and clicked through to your website. So even if they didn’t schedule an appointment or contact you, you can potentially follow up with them over the phone.
One of the cons with email marketing is the chance that the message is not read by your client or prospect. The growing number of email advertisements influences people to delete “spam” type emails without looking through them. Email marketing, however, is very cost effective so the value may easily outweigh the cost.
Social media is a great and free way to get exposure for your upcoming trade show event. Social media is no longer a shiny new marketing strategy, but it’s presence with advertising for upcoming trade show events has still been sparse. The social media reach is more broad than a direct mail or email campaign, but can still be an effective advertising method.
Your social media marketing success relies heavily on your the activity between your followers. Even if the number of followers is lower, you can still have a successful campaign if they actively engage with your content.
Social media is a great tool for brand awareness, hinting at a new product or service, or promoting a show give-away. The more that this aligns with your trade show goal and utilizes your active followers the better your social media pre-show campaign will be.
Creating a show specific landing page on your website is an inexpensive way to get exposure and to support and track other marketing efforts. Landing pages can give more details to teases you do on social media, direct mailers, or email campaigns for the show. You can list your booth number, your upcoming product launch plans, any speakers or entertainment, meeting sign up forms, and giveaways you may have.
A website landing page can also help with your search engine optimization (SEO) for that specific show and also can be a good link for any pay per click (PPC) campaigns that you use.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an area of website development that is used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine. In short, the types of keywords and set up of your landing page can help people find you if they are searching for types of companies at the trade show.
If you rank on the first page, you will likely gain a large amount of traffic and brand awareness for that show. You can track your success with analytics tools that show you how many people went to your page and how they found it – whether it is an organic search, social media, email campaign, etc. Creating a landing page and tracking SEO is relatively inexpensive; the only real cost is associated with it is employee time.
Another way to get traffic to your landing page is through the use of pay-per-click advertising. Because Google is the most popular search engine, the most common tool for this is Google Adwords. You can create targeted ads for the upcoming show, new products, and new services that will take your customers to you landing page to find out more.
You control the amount that you want to spend on these advertisements, but it is important to narrow your target audience with specific keywords. If you don’t plan your PPC advertisement, your ad could show up on the 15th search page that nobody sees or be so broad that you end up paying for people to go to your site who aren’t interested in the show.
Another popular method of marketing which is not only simple, quick and very effective is SMS Marketing, you may think that sending customers or potential customers texts would be time consuming however this is not true, when you use an SMS Software such as group texting by ultrasmsscript it allows you to send one SMS text to multiple recipients at the press of a button so even on your busiest days you still have time to send a text to all your customers about an up and coming event or even a special offer or promotion. One thing to remember when considering whether to use SMS Marketing is that a text is far more likely to be read quicker than an email, everyone has an SMS function on their mobile phone but not everyone has data, which could potentially mean that they may have to wait until they can connect to WIFI in order to check their emails.
Direct mail marketing is a highly targeted form of promoting pre-show allowing you to send to specific buying groups based on key demographics. It gives you the advantage of creating concrete call to actions that are easy to track, such as scheduling appointments at the show or providing a specific landing page on your website for more information. They are great to increase brand awareness, help pre-schedule meetings, and tease a product or service introduction.
Direct mailers also provide a physical advertisement as opposed to email newsletters. There is more space to give more information and you can include more than one physical piece. It is more likely for your target to keep the mailer at his/her desk until they have time to go back and revisit the information at a more convenient time. But the challenge is making sure that the correct person receives the information and if they receive it that they keep it. About 44% of mail recipients throw away their “junk mail” without read it, according to AllBusiness.com. There is also this risk with email advertising and the increasing amount of companies sending targeted emails.
The largest disadvantage to direct mailers is the cost. They take time and effort to design not only the mail piece, but also any way of tracking such as a landing page on your website. Mailers can also be expensive to print and to mail, especially with rising postage costs.
Telemarketing pre-show has it’s pros and cons. It is a very effective method of pre-scheduling appointments to introduce new products or services with current customers. They can be effective also to reach out to prospective clients, but these calls can take more time and research. They do provide immediate feedback, however, and help you learn about that company and your marketplace – how to identify your best target prospects, how to get through to them, how to overcome objections, and how to convert interest to engagement.
Cold calling does require many hours from committed employees, which can be expensive and time consuming, but it can be worth the time and effort if the revenue generated outweighs the cost.
Press Releases/Editor Contact
You can also work with the media to announce a press release for the show. This can be inexpensive and credible, if the source is a trustworthy voice in the industry. You do have less control over this type of exposure and how it is used, but it does allow you to introduce new products and promote brand awareness.
Show Services Promotional Packages
Shows often offer a promotional package that includes print promotions before and during the trade show event. This is the most targeted method of marketing you could utilize because they send out emails and show content to everyone who registered for the event. These packages can be expensive and like any email campaign from you, it may be considered “spam”. Each package varies from show to show and is worth looking at depending on your budget, your goals, and your customers.