6 Tips for Marketing Your Event or Trade Show Presence

May 7, 2019

Catherine Hess

Catherine Hess is the senior marketing manager for Absolute Exhibits. With over a decade of experience in marketing, Catherine enjoys writing on a variety of subjects from events to business solutions.

What if your organization exhibited at an event or trade show and nobody showed up to your booth?  That’s a real concern for many brands exhibiting at what can be costly events.  The old saying “If you build it, they will come” is not applicable when it comes to events.  Instead, you need to market your presence and offer a reason why people should visit you.  Consider the following ways in which you can maximize your impact with solid marketing strategies:

Geofencing Your Trade Show Booth

Geofencing is a great way to capture relevant traffic and drive people to your event or trade show booth.  Essentially, you’re using software to target visitors within a specific geographic area, such as when they enter the convention center.  This software will then push mobile or in-app messaging encouraging these attendees to visit your trade show booth.  This is something that exhibitors are just beginning to use with exceptional results.  Many other industries have been successfully using geofencing to capture visitors driving by retail stores or to solicit feedback after leaving a restaurant or hotel. If you’re not currently using geofencing, you should be.  Used in conjunction with other marketing solutions, this can be a powerful way to market your event presence.

Retargeting Campaigns

In advance of a trade show or event, it’s helpful to set up retargeting campaigns.  This way, when you solicit people to visit your website, they’ll receive ads on additional websites they visit to stop by your trade show booth.  If your website is capturing relevant industry traffic, the odds are high that a percentage of those people will also be attending your next event.  Retargeting can help keep your brand top of mind when attendees hit the trade show floor.

Display and PPC Advertising

If you’re familiar with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, then you’ll know the power it has to attract targeted traffic to a website using predefined keywords.  Display advertising is another form of PPC advertising that is both cheap and effective.  To target a specific show, you should first set up a landing page to capture traffic attending that show.  Keep your messaging about the event itself and what you’ll be presenting at this event. Using this landing page, the key is to select keywords around the show and drive traffic to learn more.  This is a highly effective way to market your presence and stand out among your competitors.

Call Your Customers and Invite Them to an Event

One of the best ways to promote your presence is to call your existing customers.  These are already your evangelists and their presence at your trade show booth or event space can help show prospects and leads that people enjoy doing business with you. I often advocate that brands host an open bar in their trade show booth on the first day of the show. Word travels fast when booze is available in the exhibit hall and a booth full of happy customers drinking for free is also a great advertisement for your brand.  People can enjoy a drink and find out in a relaxed setting why your customers are so happy to do business with you. (These costs can add up, so consider only allowing customers and qualified leads to attend.  You don’t want to end up paying for your competitors to sit down at your booth and potentially poach leads or clients.)

Get Social

We all know the power of social media.  Did you know every event and trade show also has a presence on social media?  They all have their own hashtags as well.  Create branded content driving people to your space and use the event hashtags.  Also include relevant industry hashtags.  If you’re unaware of which hashtags are associated with an event, do a search across social media platforms for the event and see what others are hashtagging.  For example, at a trade show such as NADA, attendees might also include hashtags about automobiles or the automotive industry.  This is a free and easy way to reach people who will be attending and are excited to learn more about who’s presenting.

Present a Break-Out Session

Do you have a success story to tell? Are you developing cutting edge technology or have thought leadership to offer?  By submitting to speak at events — whether on a panel or in a break-out session — you can market your presence in multiple ways.  The event will advertise your speech and company name for you to all of their attendees.  Additionally, you can use this speech as a platform to drive attendees to your booth space after the talk.  If you’re using a PowerPoint presentation, include your booth number on the last slide while you take questions.  This will encourage people to visit you.

Using these techniques, you can market your presence at an event and fill your booth space. Beyond traditional cold calling and email marketing campaigns, your brand can see a higher rate of return by pursuing a more cohesive marketing strategy.

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