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Make Your Trade Show Exhibit Successful

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The key to great trade show exhibiting is marketing. But marketing is a very inexact science that leaves room for a multitude of errors to occur. Learn to avoid exhibitors' mistakes and increase your chances for a successful trade show exhibit.

Have an Exhibit Marketing Plan: Having a strategic exhibit marketing and tactical plan of action is a critical starting point. To make trade shows a powerful dimension in your company's overall marketing operation, there must be total alignment between the strategic marketing and your exhibit marketing plan.

Know and understand exactly what you wish to achieve:

  • increase market share with existing users

  • introduce new products/services into existing markets

  • promote new products/services into new markets

  • Have a Promotional Plan: A significant part of your marketing includes promotion: pre-show, at-show, and post-show. Most exhibitors fail to have a plan that encompasses all three areas. Budget will play a major role in deciding what and how much promotional activity is possible.

    Developing a meaningful theme that ties into your strategic marketing plan will then help to guide promotional decisions. Know whom you want to target and consider having different promotional programs aimed at the different groups you are interested in attracting. Include: direct mail, broadcast faxes, advertising, PR, sponsorship, and the Internet as possible ways to reach your target audience.

    Use Direct Mail Effectively: Direct mail is still one of the most popular promotional vehicles trade show exhibitors use. Many of the mailings come from show management's lists, and as a result, everyone gets everything. Use the following to make the most of direct mail:

  • use your own customer and prospect list to target the people you want to visit your trade show booth

  • design a piece that is benefit-oriented and makes an impact

  • starting four weeks out, mail 3 pieces at regular intervals before the show

  • use first-class mail
  • Give Visitors an Incentive: Whatever promotional vehicles you use, make sure that you give visitors a reason to visit you. With a hall overflowing with fascinating products/services, combined with time constraints, people need an incentive to come and visit your booth.

    Their primary interest is in "what's new." They are eager to learn about the latest technologies, new applications, or anything that will help save them time and/or money. Even if you don't have a new product/service to introduce, think about a new angle to promote your offerings.

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