With a limited budget and exposure, small businesses must think of various avenues that can get them new contacts and business relationships. Exhibiting at trade shows is one of the best ways to reach out to potential customers. These events provide a huge opportunity to introduce your products/services and build relationships with the attendees who are interested in what you offer.
However, marketing at trade shows requires a lot of time, effort, and money to create an impact. So, as a small business, you need to plan your costs and the marketing strategy diligently to maximize your investment. Here are some essential marketing tips that can help you exhibit a successful trade show for your small business.
- Establish Your Company Goals for the Trade Show
Whether you want to create brand awareness, generate new leads, or grow your networking and marketing database, setting up goals for any event you attend will help you get the best ROI. Once you set up your goal, focus all your efforts to achieve it.
- Choose the Right Trade Show to Exhibit At
You need to start planning at least two months in advance. Research plays a crucial role in your planning. With hundreds of trade shows happening in and around your target location, it’s important to decide which events you want to attend that’ll have the most potential customers in attendance. You can start looking for local, regional and national events in trade show directories. Check which are relevant to your industry, the website for past event history; how active their social media channels are, past media coverage and who’re the speakers. You can also contact the event coordinators to see if it fits your business needs.
- Prepare Promotional Plans Well in Advance
Once you’ve decided which event you’ll be attending, it’s time to start preparing for pre-event, in-event and post-event marketing activities.
- Pre-Event Marketing: This stage is all about creating a buzz about your business’ participation in the trade show. Send engaging e-mails to clients and prospects. Build a new landing page on your website; use various social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others to build a story to engage your existing and prospective customers. Motivate customers to attend your booth by announcing extra incentives like a contest with an attractive prize, a gift, or a special event. Managing social media is very important. If you don’t have a social media manager in-house, then familiarize yourself with social media management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Invest in good signage and booth stands with proper lighting and accessories. Decide the locations in your booth area where you’d like to have them installed. Have enough business cards printed so that you don’t fall short. You can also consider having digital kits of your products and services to distribute to those attendees who show interest in your company.
Don’t forget about making strategies to get media coverage. Use your media contacts to publish press releases and articles to create hype about your company.
- In-Event Marketing: This is the live stage where all the action takes place. So, make sure to get social! Tweet regularly your event photos and content along with hashtags. Ask all your employees to retweet. Tag relevant people. Also, make use of the other social channels. Give responsibility on someone from your team to monitor all your social posts and responses.
Make sure that your booth staff are well-trained to do product demonstrations and handle many attendees at the same time.
- Post-Event Marketing: After the event, there are some follow-up that you need to do to ensure successful marketing of your business. Thank the reporters who gave you media coverage by calling them up. Let them know if you’ve promoted the coverage in your social media or tagged them. Also, tell them that you’re available to answer any questions about the event/industry. If you’ve collected business cards or contact information of your attendees, let them know that it’s great to connect with them and remind them about your service through emails and phone calls.
Write blogs on the event, post them on your website and share across social media platforms. Lastly, don’t forget to analyze the results and measure your ROI. Consider new sales, leads, media coverage, website traffic, new backlinks, quality and quantity of potential clients, investors and partners achieved, etc.
Marketing a small business at a trade show isn’t difficult if you plan it properly. As a small business owner, you may not have the best of the exhibits. Instead, focus on media attention, social media marketing and face-to-face meetings with your potential customers. Your primary goal should be to build and nurture your leads into business relationships.