Pre-show Marketing Plan for Your Trade Shows

Posted on August 26th, 2019

According to Halo, pre-show promotions increase trade show booth traffic by 30%. Makes sense, considering 76% of trade show attendees plan their booth visits before the trade show begins.

While the majority of trade show exhibitors do some form of pre-show promotion, very few actually invest in their pre-show marketing. Translation: free social media posts reign supreme. To get the most ROI from your trade show, to generate more leads and maximize your impact, a pre-show marketing strategy is key.

Audience Discovery

You’ve done the work to identify which trade shows your buyer personas attend. However, the makeup of each trade show’s attendance may vary. Knowing which personas attend each show – and the percentages of each – will help you craft your trade show marketing plan.

Identify each audience’s pain points, objectives and current understanding of your brand and products. Establish a baseline of your existing accounts in relation to the trade show attendees. Measure the average account value before each trade show.

Collect direct feedback from your customers as well as trade show attendees to really discover how your brand can drive value. You’ll want to deploy your pre-show marketing to your existing customer base but also reach attendees that would introduce new business.

Messaging Alignment

What is the core message you want to express, simply, at each trade show? The messaging needs to resonate with each trade show audience, as well as integrate with your brand’s overall marketing messages. In addition, the messaging should align with the trade show experience.

As you design your trade show display, you’ll want to consider how your key messages will look visually within your space. What creative elements will help your audience discern those messages? Based on these trade show designs, you can craft corresponding pre-show marketing content. You’re building familiarity and frequency throughout the trade show campaign.

In addition, you’ll need to decide if you’ll be offering an exclusive discount or running a giveaway. These messages will need to be included in your content hierarchy.

Your content plan for each trade show should leverage unified messaging pre-, during and post-trade show. Thinking through your messaging holistically beforehand will create a more effective delivery.

Tactical Deployment

There are many ways – not just your Twitter feed – to engage a trade show audience in the weeks or months leading up to an event.

Leverage data to deploy to the right audiences. For example, you can turn to last year’s attendee list or if you’re sponsoring the trade show, ask for the registration lists in advance. You can seek historical location data from your digital marketing team to source device IDs which were on-site during last year’s trade show. And you can use the show’s hashtag or search terms to identify active intent.

Types of pre-show marketing tactics:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing (brand’s own plus trade show newsletters)
  • Direct mail – postcards/letters
  • Direct mail – packages/gifts
  • Personal calling/appointment setting
  • Print ads (industry or related publications)
  • Digital marketing
  • Public relations
  • Out-of-home media (trade show market placements)

Depending on your trade show schedule and the weight of trade shows within your overall plan, you may want to update your brand’s communications collaterals (e.g., catalogs, proposals, invoices) with your booth number.

Establish KPIs

Your pre-show marketing plan should have its own key performance indicators, as part of the overall trade show goals. You’ll want to measure the impact of your pre-show marketing tactics.

Common KPIs may be:

  • Media performance (click and open rates, reach or responses)
  • Lift in booth visits from previous year or other shows
  • Increase in web visits to trade show landing pages

You may also want to survey trade show attendees to gauge their increased understanding of your brand and offerings.

Your pre-show marketing plan should include measurable items that complement your overall strategy.

In summary, no trade show plan is complete without pre-show marketing.

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