As a marketing firm, we’ve been to our fair share of tradeshows – from the smallest user group meetings to shows hosting hundreds of thousands of attendees. And we’ve noticed something odd.
There are hundreds of blogs, articles, and videos about how to build the perfect tradeshow marketing strategy, but there aren’t a lot of resources that talk about the hands-on side of tradeshow marketing. We’re going to try to change that. Below you’ll find tips and tricks regarding tradeshow marketing, shipping, packing, engaging on the show floor, and all those other moments that are important, but often forgotten.
Tradeshow Marketing: Pre-Show Tips & Tricks
Let’s begin with the months leading up to the show. You’ve decided what tradeshows you’re attending this year, what kind of leads you’re hoping to generate, and who’s going. Now what?
1) Get Your Shipping Sorted as Soon As Possible
Having a plan when it comes to shipping your event supplies is crucial to having a good show. It saves you from the stress, and the exorbitant cost, of shipping multiple packages just weeks – or even days – before the show. Our recommendation is to ship all your supplies at least a month in advance of whatever show you’re attending. Have multiple shows in one month? That’s alright! Most shipping providers can just send your supplies directly to the next show. Be sure you coordinate that hand-off before the show as well, so you’re not scrambling to make arrangements the day-of the show.
2) Generate a Tradeshow Marketing Packing List
Not only will this help you think through – and pack – everything you’ll need before the tradeshow, but it’ll make repacking that much easier! You can just reference the list you brought along. We’d recommend putting the list in a plastic sleeve and using a dry erase marker to check off each item. That way you reuse the same list for multiple shows!
ADDITIONAL TIP: To make things even easier on yourself, separate the list into categories like booth items, office supplies, technology, and “other/miscellaneous.”
3) Pack a “Go Bag” and Include It in Your Display Case
It’s happened to everyone. You’re at the show, assembling your booth or product stand, and you realize you don’t have a screwdriver. Or you’ve suddenly found a stain on your best dress shirt with no way to get it out. Or a box arrives, and you’ve got no way to get it open except hack at it with your keys. Having a “go bag” packed means you’re prepared for these kinds of inconveniences.
Here are a few things we pack in our “go bag” for tradeshow marketing:
- A box cutter
- Packing tape
- Extension cords + a surge protector
- Phone charging station
- An Allen wrench + slotted and Phillips screwdrivers
- A simple first aid kit
- Tide/Bleach pens
- Breath mints
You’ll probably need to add some items unique to your business, but these should serve as a good jumping off point.
4) Bring an Interactive Element
Let’s face it, everyone’s got swag these days. And if customers don’t like the swag you picked, they’re not likely to linger by your booth. So, instead of offering swag, give them something fun to do! It’ll break through the monotony of the show floor, create friendly conversations, and set you apart from other providers on the floor. Here are some suggestions:
- Looking for gaming elements? A “nothing but net” challenge. Participants try to sink a Nerf basketball into the net for prizes. This can also be done with a velcro dart board!
- Looking for a little more involvement? A swag scavenger hunt. This will require a little recon on your part. Prior to attendee arrival, walk the floor and find some items, designs, photos that stand out. Note each one on an individual slip of paper and invite attendees to find the item. If they come back to your booth with a picture of it, they get a prize!
- Looking for a simple interaction? A “wheel of fortune” prize wheel. All they have to do is spin to win.
5) Use Computer Monitors Instead of TV Screens
This one is pure practicality. TV monitors are notoriously fragile and no matter how well you pack them, odds are at least one will crack. Instead of worrying about buying new TVs for each tradeshow, use computer monitors instead. They’re slightly sturdier and far cheaper.
Tradeshow Marketing: Show Time Tips & Tricks
1) Don’t Be Afraid to Visit Other Booths
The goal of many tradeshows is to mix and mingle with potential clients. And as tempting as it may be for you to stay within the confines of your booth – resist! Walking around the show floor not only gives you a “lay of the land” so to speak, but it also offers you an opportunity to meet your prospects, see what other providers are offering, and glean some fun prizes in the process.
2) Substitute Your Typical Beverage with Sparkling Water and Lime
Trade shows often offer free alcoholic beverages, which is a wonderful perk – up to a point. If you want to keep your mind sharp and still have a drink in-hand, ask the bartender for club soda and lime in a real glass. You’ll not only stay focused, but you’ll also stay hydrated.
3) Bring a Marketing Team Member Along
One of the biggest misconceptions about trade shows is that only the sales team needs to go. That is absolutely not the case. Your marketing team knows your pitches, and your products, inside and out. Having a marketing team member on-site logging leads, meeting customers, live-posting on your socials, as well as tracking customer feedback is essential to stellar show.
Tradeshow Marketing: Post-Show Tips & Tricks
The show’s over and you’re hopefully flush with leads. Here are a few steps you can take to make your post-trade show marketing strategy a success.
1) Hold an “After-Action Review” with Your Sales & Marketing Teams
An AAR is, essentially, a debrief to understand how a tradeshow went, what aspects went well and what didn’t, and what improvements might be needed. What kind of questions were asked? Did attendees seem satisfied with the answers? How was the swag or booth game received? How many leads were generated, and which would benefit from an email follow-up? Questions like this not only help sales refine their pitches, but it also helps marketers know where to start with their post-show campaigns.
ADDITIONAL TIP: If a tradeshow doesn’t generate the kind leads you expect, even though you’ve done everything you can, don’t be afraid to drop that show from your roster.
2) Create a Segmented List of all Your Show Leads
This should be standard practice, but it’s often overlooked. Do not overlook it. Here’s a basic overview:
- Upload all the contacts you acquired at the show into a list in your CRM/marketing software. Make sure that list has a relevant name. No “List #456.” Try naming it “[YEAR]-[TRADESHOW NAME]-[ATTENDEES]” or “[TRADESHOW ABBREVIATION]-[YEAR].”
- Break those lists into smaller segments. How you segment your leads is up to you. You can separate them by location, by industry, by level of interest, and so on. Doing this will allow you send more targeted emails. More targeted emails generate more engagement and are more likely to result in closed deals than general post-show emails.
- Prioritize the hottest leads. This doesn’t mean neglecting the rest of your lead list. It means now allowing warm leads to get cold by forgetting to reach out to them or sending impersonal content.
Want to learn more about segmenting lists? Check out this blog!
3) Reorganize & Restock Your Tradeshow Marketing Kit
This is one of those tasks everyone dreads doing, probably because everything in your tradeshow marketing kit was put away in a rush. But setting aside some time to check on your supplies, and restock what’s been used, will go a long way in helping you prepare for the next show.