Trade show season can be stressful enough just getting your booth designed while arranging key staff travel for the trade show. In the chaos, a well thought-out communication strategy can often be an afterthought, costing you leads, foot traffic, and new revenue. That’s why, the most effective trade show marketing strategies rely on 7 pre and post-show tactics.


Trade Show Marketing Strategies and Preparation

Trade shows can lure unsuspecting visitors to your company. But, with a little trade show preparation, you can make sure key decision makers write your company’s booth number on their to-do list.

Getting the word out to attendees and prospects in advance is how you get foot traffic. There are various ways to keep show attendees in-the-know.


Trade show geotargeted ads

Setting up geotargeted Facebook and Google ads within a specific radius of the show is a great way to attract attention you would otherwise not attract, but expert-level trade show marketing strategies and marketers take this a step further.

Instead of just targeting the event space, conference or trade show, your company can target nearby hotels or even the airport. As prospects wait for their bags, Uber to their hotel, or wait to get their rental car, you’ll have a captive audience.

At Lessing-Flynn, our data shows geotargeted ads perform best with an incentive to visit your booth (i.e. “Visit our booth to enter to win a YETI cooler …”) Obviously, keeping up on swag trends is key in winning this incentive play. But don’t forget that you’ll probably want a tailored landing page for these ads to eliminate confusion. Remember, travelers are overloaded, so keep it simple. Focus on information about your involvement at the show, booth number and anything else you think they’d appreciate. If you’re doing a giveaway or incentive, you can also generate additional pre-show leads. To do this, include an online form on the page to sign up!

Your trade show social media strategy also must be on point and not contradict your geotargeted ads. Develop a pre-show social media content strategy. Make sure to plan what and when to post ahead of the show. When you get to the show and the booth gets crazy, posting on Facebook is going to be one of the last things on your mind. Not to mention, trade show Wifi is oftentimes spotty at best, so pre-scheduling posts can alleviate the no-signal terror.


When To Send Trade Show Email

Send a pre-show eBlast to customers or prospects who live within easy travel distance of the venue, or who may be planning on coming. Because trade show marketing strategies causing irritation are a revenue death sentence, however, a little tact goes a long way.

The trade show marketing geniuses at Lessing Flynn recommend an email of this nature be sent between one month and two weeks to the show opening. Why? Over one month and people forget, wait right before the show, and attendees are already inundated with other show junk.

Sending your trade show email and timing it correctly, is a great way to tease your booth experience. Feature a sneak peek of the products or equipment you’ll have at the show.


Trade Show PR

Writers, editors, and publication representatives come to trade shows for the same reason your prospects do, to find new ideas and gain perspective. By reaching out to them ahead of the show, you are more likely to set up appointments and score a meeting with them at your booth. If you don’t have a media list, don’t worry.

Pull out your prior year contacts and start compiling one or do some research within your top industry pubs. Contact information for editors can be relatively easy to find if you just do your homework, or you can spring for database tools like Muck Rack, Meltwater or Agility.

If you bring a gaggle of flash drives containing your latest product’s info and photo/video assets for them to use for their pieces, you increase your chances they will write about you. Do their work for them!


Trade Show Follow Up Strategies

After the booth is packed, and you jam yourself into 34E, maintain your energy for the grand finale and gold standard of all trade show marketing strategies: The follow-up. While your competitors are tired and despondent you can capture attendee’s attention while they are recovering.


Re-Target Strategic Contacts

If you geotargeted attendees as they arrived, and at the show or conference, this sets your marketing team up for future success. You now have the data necessary to re-target any trade show attendees through Google and Facebook.

While the ad design can be show related, it doesn’t have to relate to the show at all. It can be company or product-branded, or focus on something entirely new. The overarching goal is to direct them back to your site for more info now, or when they’re back home.

You can also re-target to keep that new channel of communication open, getting them to your website.


Trade Show Email Follow Up

Send a recap email to any new leads you captured. This doesn’t need to be anything spectacular, just a way to show gratitude for visiting your booth and a few resources to continue educating them on what you have to offer.

Don’t let the corporate recap email replace personal follow-up from your sales team. While the corporate email serves as a follow-up touchpoint, ultimately the lead first talked with your sales team. This can be a quick call or email from the person assigned to the lead (qualified leads should be followed up with within a week). Let attendees know you appreciated their visit and are available for anything they need.


Refine Your Trade Show Marketing Strategies

Post trade show marketing strategies and follow up aren’t just about external communication, but refining your process. Within one week of the show ending, set up a 30-minute debrief meeting with your team or marketing agency. Go through the highs and lows of the shows, as well as observations you saw from the competition. Were you satisfied with your booth? What did you like about the booth two plots down that you want to incorporate next year? How will we divide up reaching out to the leads captured?


Simply making a presence isn’t good enough. If attendees forget about you, your money spent was a waste. Map out your trade show marketing strategies every year. You can win the attention and hearts of those coveted prospects.

Lessing Flynn has supported numerous clients at some of the largest shows in the industry. Indoor, outdoor, you name it. When you’re ready to “bring in the big guns” let us help you create a trade show communication strategy that puts you in full control.