Engaging the Right Audience: How to Promote Before the Trade Show

pre-trade show meeting with clients at a Calgary, Alberta office

You’ve booked the booth space and have all your materials ready to go. In previous years, your conversion rate has been minimal. What can you do before the trade show to make sure you are getting the right prospects to come to your booth? Be sure to promote before the show with some of the following tips.

Your Social Presence is Noted

A great way to make sure all your clients are aware of your attendance is by promoting the show itself on all social media platforms. Make sure you’re following the show’s hashtag (if they have one), retweeting and sharing any relatable posts that have to do with the show. Post teaser photos or video clips about new products or services you plan to launch at the show. If you have a new exhibit for the event, post updates on its progression. Anything you can add that promotes your attendance and what you have to offer. By being present on social media, you’ll also reach out to potential prospects who may be following the show’s social activity and connect them to you.

Tip: If you are planning show discounts, offer an online coupon redeemable at the show for clients that follow you on a specific, or all social platforms.

Put Old Fashioned Technology to Work

There are a few ways to advertise your presence at the show – prior to and during. Billboards, prints, phone calls, etc. are all great ways to promote. Sometimes the best way to get your name out there is by doing so the old fashion way:

  • Phoning and personally inviting customers to the show can add more value in your communication than an email. If you cannot reach them directly, even leaving a voice mail is better than nothing. 
  • Consider cost-effective advanced advertising in publications & platforms that target your market. Promote your exhibit and highlight specials, promos and discounts, especially show-only offers. The show guide (if available) is an ideal opportunity to target show visitors directly.
  • Review the advertising or sponsorship opportunities available at the show site including entranceways, registration area and social gathering points.
  • Look at off site promotion such as a bill board program covering the major roadways around the show site. If you are in your home town and have your own mobile billboards – company custom decaled vehicles – spread them through the parking lot for the duration of the show.

A Lunch Meeting Goes a Long Way

Find out who in your existing client database are attending the show or are in the same city as the show. Reaching out to them in advance by booking an appointment or lunch meeting, gives you an edge over your competitors at the show as time is short and valuable to each and every client or prospect. A personal connection can go a long way. 

If they can’t attend the trade show in person, your face-to-face connection over lunch will make them feel valuedand can give them an opportunity to still learn about the service or product you’re promoting at the show.

Bonus: Wrapping up the Show

An important pre-show strategy is to plan for your post-show follow-ups. Set up time to personally email prospects after the show. It’s so easy to let mail programs auto insert names, which may fool some, but not all will fall for the pre-written template. While at the show, make sure your conversations include something personal about the prospect or existing client.

When you follow up, be sure to include this item of interest in your email to add a personal touch and show that you were listening to their wants, needs and interests. If you have a lunch with a client prior to the show, make sure you mention this in your follow up. 

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