Despite the popularity of Internet marketing, B2B companies find enormous value in trade shows and conferences (in fact, 60% of their budgets are spent on event marketing). While shows easily attract target audiences, each individual exhibitor can still struggle to maximize its ROI. If you want your exhibitors to receive full benefit from your trade shows and conferences, you need to help them develop a marketing strategy.
The majority of foot traffic that wanders past a trade show booth comes from your marketing efforts, not the exhibitor's. It shouldn't be that way.
The exhibitor's task should be to make the right person stop, explore, and take action. To that end, these seven ideas will help your exhibitors boost attraction, retention, and conversion of visitors.
1 – Your Exhibitor Must Create a Well-Designed, Eye-Catching Display
Just as readers judge a book by its cover, attendees will judge a company by the display its sets up and the message it shares. In order to grab the attention of visitors and build foot traffic, a booth should have a focal point or overall theme that is impossible to ignore. Every inch of a display should communicate why the exhibitor is participating in your show.
2 – Your Exhibitor Must Use Direct Mail
While many businesses focus on email marketing due to its affordability and ease, direct mail still commands readers' attention and receives high open and response rates. With the right, highly-targeted list, a company can actually realize a higher response percentage than with email (much higher). This is partially due to the ease with which emails are deleted and ignored. Another benefit of physical postal mailers lies in the fact they provide an opportunity to use them as part of "rewards system" for readers, who follow up by coming to the company's booth. For example, an envelope mailed to a specific B2B demographic can include a coupon redeemable for a gift or special discount available only at your show.
3 – Your Exhibitor Must Send Pre-Registrants Invitations, Not Ads
Advertising will always be an important part of attracting attention to any offering, but today's focus on professional relationship-building and networking makes personalized invitations more effective than ads. You should enable every exhibitor to send personalized booth invitations to your re-registrants; and the invitations should include a special reason to visit, not just a booth number. If in-booth talks or demos are planned, the invitations should specify the days and times, and include a description of what will be presented or offered to visitors. If show specials will be offered, the value and terms should be stated.
4 – Your Exhibitor Should Start Marketing Early with Both Email and Telemarketing
Even if a business sends out direct mail, email will still be its primary mode of communication. Although designing electronic marketing campaigns can help get the word out about an exhibit, there are simple ways to introduce the idea in routine communications as well. The easiest way to do this is by updating staff members' email signatures on all outgoing mail. A simple mention of the event's dates and location and a "Visit us at" call to action help cement the idea into contacts' heads. And, given the glut of email today, an outbound telemarketing campaign inviting pre-registrants to visit the booth isn't just smart, it's mandatory.
5 – Your Exhibitor Should Design an Ad Campaign in Conjunction with Your Event
In the months leading up to your event, the exhibitor should run advertising specific to its participation. At a minimum, the exhibitor can add a page to its website that shares information about the dates and location. Because you'll be advertising your event, the exhibitor can also piggyback on your keywords to drive impressions. Whether the exhibitor runs Google Adwords campaigns, relies on LinkedIn ads, or dabbles with Facebook ads, event-specific advertising improves booth traffic.
6 – Your Exhibitor Should Create Teasers on Its Blog and in Social Media
At regularly scheduled intervals before your show, the exhibitor should share blog posts about the event that give visitors reasons why they should stop in at the booth. Besides general information, the posts should give introductory information about an in-booth talks or demos, profile the company's representatives who'll be staffing the booth, and highlight gifts or special offers available only to visitors who come to the booth.
7 – Your Exhibitor Should Gamify Booth Visits
Trade shows should not only allow attendees to learn about new products; they should be fun. The "style" of fun provided, of course, will vary by industry (a corporate law firm, for example, wouldn't focus on Hollywood-style entertainment the same way a video marketing company would); but fun should be provided nevertheless. Games are the answer. Games satisfy attendees’ innate needs to compete, win recognition, and bring home swag. The good news? With today's array of event apps, gamifying every booth visit is easy. The keys lie in keeping the game simple and tying it closely to the exhibitor's brand. You can learn more about game designs here.
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