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    Is Your Brand Ready for the Big Show?

    Is Your Brand Ready for the Big Show?

    It’s that time again to think and plan for your booth at the fall and winter trade shows. Although you have invested hours, days, or even weeks (not to mention dollars) in planning your trade show booth, you have only seconds to engage potential attendees in your brand, products and services. The time math doesn’t seem fair, but it fits with human nature and trade shows.

    Trade show essentials: Goals, preparation, engagement.

    As you prepare, remember the details that can make a difference before the show even starts.

    What’s your marketing strategy for the show?

    How is it tied to your sales strategy, or not? Your team should have goals and objectives laid out for what you want to accomplish at the trade show, so no one is left adrift and everyone rows toward the same shore.

    Trade show success starts with a strategic marketing plan.

    “For trade shows and exhibitions, goals tend to focus on one or a combination of lead generation, awareness-building and networking,” according to ProExhibits. “For example, awareness goals might include raising brand recognition or educating your audience. Networking goals include making new industry contacts, finding investors, or recruiting new staff. With lead generation, you might focus on finding new qualified leads or picking up new email subscribers.”

    Whatever your goals and objectives, they should be tied to a larger marketing plan. What is the company’s purpose for exhibiting? Everyone on the team should know the answer to this—succinctly and quickly. Your trade show plans should merge with your company’s overall marketing efforts.

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    If you’re in charge of goal building, go back to what you documented from your team at the end of last year’s trade show, including:

    • What crisis items did we experience?
    • What can we do to avoid them next time?
    • Who was the persona or profile of the perfect person we met?
    • How could we have met more of the right people?
    • Where did the right people go in the exhibit?
    • What did we learn about our competitors?
    • What were the top three benefits of the trade show?
    • What were the top three disadvantages?

    The answers to these questions will help you prepare your goals and objectives for this year’s show, as looking back provides scope and context for the future.

    “It’s helpful if each new goal you set builds on a previous result,” according to ProExhibits. “Rather than aiming to increase new leads gained at a specific show, set a goal of increasing new leads by 15% or 20% more than at the same show last year. Adjust your goal to ensure it’s realistic. If 15% isn’t attainable in your industry, aim for a lesser increase, or to exceed last year’s total.”

    How ready is your team? Do they know their roles at the trade show?

    Now is the time to reinforce your content expertise—and that of your trade show team.

    Develop content in conjunction with your trade show efforts that highlights your knowledge and your team’s. This will help with other marketing campaigns, build thought leadership and create leads further along the sales funnel. Along with building credibility, quality content also improves search engine optimization. This content should be developed long before you attend the trade show. Bonus: It can help you craft more concise and compelling trade show booth messaging.

    Build a pre-show plan that includes a pre-show social media strategy, including cadence and content. If you’re confident with paid advertising, plan for a geo-targeted ad campaign for use during the show that draws attendees to your booth.

    Your team’s expertise is the key to trade show impact.

    “Before the event, you can create posts announcing your attendance to your existing customers and followers,” according to LinkedIn Careers. “As the event gets closer, you may provide incentives to have people stop by your booth, such as a giveaway or a product unveiling. Provide information about your location, such as your booth number or a map to ensure that attendees can find you. Make sure to utilize any event hashtags to expand your audience and reach other interested parties.”

    Put together a pre-show marketing campaign to reach out to prospects, customers, and journalists. This can include direct mail, email and updates to your website. (At the same time, have your post-show marketing ready. Don’t wait until after the show to finalize post-show messaging and offers.)

    While we’re talking about teams, make sure yours is professional, but connected to who you are at your core. Dress for your brand’s success.

    An exercise that you can practice with your team is to ask, “If your brand were to dress up and go to a meeting, what would that brand wear?” Would it be in a suit and tie, would it be in a branded golf shirt, or would everyone be wearing branded fedoras or trucker caps? The responses may be illuminating, as they often reveal how team members feel about the brand they represent. 

    For questions about trade show attire, start here.

    How well does your booth represent your brand? Is it outdated?

    Update your exhibit as needed to reflect your brand. If your products and services are ready for the today’s world, but your exhibit is outdated in both appearance and messaging, that’s what trade show attendees will remember.

    Give your exhibit a modern makeover to captivate attendees.

    It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to update your exhibit. There are many cost-effective options to make this happen, even options that hit on current trade show booth trends.

    Do you know your 10-second pitch?

    5-second pitch? Your 3-minute pitch? How well do  your team members know their pitches? Make sure you have a short version to grab an attendee’s short attention span. Know your pitches and practice before you go.

    Trade shows and events are some of the best places to share your company’s story face to face. Be ready for industry journalists. Industry journalists are key to getting your message out to a larger audience. Make this message creative and memorable. Summarize key points of your brand story that will make any journalist want to feature your company.

    Craft compelling pitches for every attention span.

    Don’t expect that new products will carry the day. What are the bits of your brand story that others would like to read or know? Is your company multigenerational? If so, how has that changed the brand through time? It’s a valuable story, so use it. Prepare.

    Have social media quotes, as well as a news release with the brand story you want out in the world in your kit for journalists to use. If you’re not sure what all to include, start with HubSpot’s media kit examples.

    Consider these key points when exhibiting your brand at a trade show. Having a well-thought-out strategy and an updated exhibit can drive more leads and revenue. For additional insights, email or call us and let’s start a conversation.


    What should be my marketing strategy for a trade show?

    Your marketing strategy for a trade show should align with your sales strategy and have clear goals and objectives, such as lead generation, awareness-building, and networking.

    How can I ensure my team is ready for the trade show?

    Reinforce your team’s content expertise and develop quality content that highlights their knowledge. Create a pre-show plan, including a social media strategy, and consider a geo-targeted ad campaign. Dress professionally and in a way that represents your brand’s identity.

    How can I update my exhibit to reflect my brand without spending too much money?

    There are cost-effective options available to update your exhibit, even following current trade show booth trends. Explore affordable alternatives to enhance its appearance and messaging.

    Do I need different pitches for different attention spans?

    Yes, it’s important to have different versions of your pitch. Develop a 10-second pitch, 5-second pitch, and 3-minute pitch to cater to attendees with varying attention spans.

    How can I share my brand’s story effectively at a trade show?

    Be prepared to engage with industry journalists and have a creative and memorable brand story. Summarize key points and consider aspects like multigenerational history. Have social media quotes and a news release ready for journalists to use.

    What are some key considerations when exhibiting my brand at a trade show?

    Develop a well-thought-out marketing strategy tied to your goals, ensure your team is knowledgeable and prepared, update your exhibit to reflect your brand, have different pitches for different attention spans, and effectively share your brand’s story through media and engagement.

    About The Author

    Elton Mayfield

    Elton's career spans media, production, digital and building industry expertise. His diverse experience makes him nimble, innovative, and curious – always pushing the envelope to create extraordinary work that delivers real results for our clients.

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