Hi. New here? Click to learn about us

On The Path To A Successful Trade Show

By Anne Pechuls, PPAI

Once you have decided to exhibit in an upcoming trade show and have created your mission statement, outlined objectives, set the budget and determined your target audience, it's time to determine how you will generate traffic to your booth.

An incredible number of options are available for promoting your exhibit, your company and the benefits of doing business with you. In her book, Show And Sell, Margit B. Weisgal says a company's pre-show promotion depends on how large the exhibit is and how many people the exhibit team can see. "There is no point in marketing to 5,000 people if you can see only 500. Your objective is to reach those you can see at that particular show," says Weisgal.

However, Weisgal quickly adds, "Even though the emphasis in preshow promotions is on the number of people you can physically see in the booth, that does not preclude future needs and future business. Not everyone needs-or is a prospect for-your product or service at present. But by judicious planning, your name will be on the passerby's list for projected buys."

Where To Begin
At small shows (less than 150 booths and fewer than 1,000 attendees), the target audience covers the whole show floor. "At these shows," says Weisgal, "an exhibitor's job is to generate company awareness with emphasis on the benefit of a visit to the booth. Concentrate on a simple direct mail piece and an ad in the organization's monthly publication and/or show directory. Sponsorships at these events are usually inexpensive with maximum exposure. Good boothmanship skills are just as important here as at larger shows. Even though the total investment might be relatively low, it's still an investment the company needs to recoup."

Large shows and those open to the public demand more attention to the components, and knowing who and how many compose the audience is critical. "If the majority of attendees are prospects/customers, mass media-from in-hotel programming to direct mail and a comprehensive print campaign-are needed. However, if your audience is small, stay focused on them and use media that demand an action on the part of the recipient," says Weisgal.

Direct Mail That Doesn't Work
The mail arrived, and a pile toppled over my desk and onto the floor. I quickly sorted through the catalogs (to be filed), the bills (to be paid), the checks (to be deposited) and was still left with a stack. When I opened one particular envelope on which the upcoming show logo appeared, a single photocopied sheet drifted out. It was the same catalog sheet I had received and filed several months ago. Big deal! Being familiar with most of the manufacturers in my industry, I realized there was no real reason to stop by that company's booth. Instead of going into the file I keep of trade-show mailers, this went into the trash.

Direct Mail That Works
In that same pile was a tube resembling dynamite, complete with a fuse. As the top popped off, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle came out. There was also a sheet of paper with the following copy: "For dynamite mailings and explosive promotions, visit us at Booth 123 at the ABC show." Simple and to the point. If this company did such creative direct mail, I wanted to see what else it had to offer-because the mailing certainly got my attention. This one went into my trade-show file immediately with a note to check the exhibitor out the first day.

Source: Show And Sell

Anne Pechuls, PPAI is an Associate Editor of PPB

Search our trade show promotional items- click here!