Events offer an unparalleled level of customer engagement, with an opportunity for positive personal interaction that builds loyalty. In a digital world, it can be easy to forget the value of meeting people face-to-face. We have become accustomed to simply click and purchase. This is great for one time sales and meeting customer’s immediate needs.
But it is imperative that we not lose sight of the value of building personal relationships and meeting people face-to-face and making a lasting impression that creates loyalty.
Every marketer knows that companies can realize the biggest ROI on their marketing dollars by retaining and growing existing customers. If you are looking to build brand awareness, make connections that last, and create leads that turn into sales, attending a trade show or event is right for you.
Once you decide what event you want to be a part of, the real work begins. Here are 6 best practices to ensure that your pre-event marketing plans will pay off in the long run.
- Know What You Want to Say and How You Want to Say It
Events are not just about showing up. They are more about creating a show that will attract prospects and turn them into loyal customers of your company. Before you even think about attending a trade show, it is crucial you know what message you want to send and ensuring that the trade show is bringing in your target audience. Are you looking to get exposure (brand awareness)? Are you releasing a new product? Are you looking for partnership? What are you hoping to accomplish and how are you going to ensure that you clearly communicate your message amid all the noise of the event?
When it comes to how you present your message, are you looking to be flashy or subtle? Do you need to be super professional or are you looking to create an engaging environment? How you present yourself at a trade show is just as important as what you have to say/sell. Never underestimate knowing what will draw your audience in.
- Set Realistic Expectations
There are things you hope for and things you expect to happen. It is never a bad thing to have a stretch-goal when it comes to your marketing efforts, but it needs to be based on something concrete. If you are attending an event for the first time it might be difficult to know what to expect, so take the time to ask and do research on what this event has done in the past for other vendors. If you have attended the event previously, look at the results from that and expect to do a little better. As you become familiar with an event, you should have learned some things that worked as well as things that didn’t work. But that experience should help paint a picture of what you can expect to achieve.
- Build an Attendee List
Work with the organizer to see who is registered and create a list of people you absolutely must connect with, people you want to connect with and people that would be nice if time permits. This allows you to focus your efforts on reaching out to people that are your target audience with the potential for maximum impact.
- Take Advantage of Early Bird Specials
Trade shows and events are famous for early bird specials. It helps them know how to plan, and it helps you get the best price. It also gives you an opportunity to capitalize on marketing opportunities that the event might offer. For example: as they are promoting their event via email, online, and print mediums, negotiate ways to be included as a highlighted vendor. Also, work with them to get the best price and booth location for the next year’s event. Signing up early should work to your advantage.
- Fill out your event profile as early as possible
Along with taking advantage of early bird specials is making sure that you have provided all the information (and then some) so as they list the vendors on their website all their information about you will be complete. And check to ensure they are presenting you well. Never assume they will use the information you provide – double check and work with them to present you in the best light.
- Use Social Media
Engage with your target audience before the event even begins. Create a countdown to the conference. Use the event’s hashtag in your social media updates. Even start scheduling your one-on-one times with people and businesses. The more you let people know you will be attending and are looking forward to connecting, the more chances you have of getting people to connect with you.
Set up a special promo-code and phone number. The key to gathering information is making sure it is useful. Having a unique phone number or promo code that tie directly to the event will help you measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you are promoting a new product, looking for new connections, or raising brand awareness, the right trade show or business event can be beneficial to your business. If you are considering attending a trade show, contact us today to help you create the right message presented in the right way that will lead to long term partnerships and increased sales. Allow us to focus on our marketing expertise so you can focus on your expertise.