Tradeshow pre-show marketing is kind of the lost stepchild of tradeshow marketing.
“Yeah, we don’t do as much as we’d like. Just don’t have the time.”
“Well, we post a few things on Twitter before the show, but that’s about it.”
If this is your approach, you shouldn’t be surprised if your results aren’t what you’d like. Let’s take a closer look at some tradeshow pre-show marketing best practices and see if those results don’t come up a bit.
- Know Your Market. Who do you want to come see your booth? Do your best to identify them, whether it’s by title, company, region, demographic, or whatever. Next, what problem do you solve for them? Once you’ve identified your market and what you can do to help them, you can start crafting your messages and the channels you’ll use.
- Know Your Budget. It’s a given that most of your tradeshow budget will go to the actual show itself: the exhibit, shipping, travel expenses, booth space rental and more. But try to carve off a percentage of the overall budget for pre-show marketing.
- Know Where Your Market Spends Time. Not as easy as it sounds. Maybe they’re on social media, and if that’s the case, what platforms? Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Or is there a popular podcast in your market niche that’s worth looking at for possible advertising? Ask current customers and prospects where they spend their “industry time” and see what they say.
- Know the Channels You Can Use. Sure, email, social media and list rentals might work. But what about phone calls? Direct mail? In-person visits? Yeah, that last one is rare, but if you are speaking face-to-face with someone you’d like to be at the show, take a moment to remind them and invite them by.
- Know the Timeline You’ll Use. By creating a schedule of what to do when, and bringing everyone on your team up to speed on the schedule, you have a much better chance of succeeding. For instance, three months out is a good time to email a “save the date” notice for the show. Six weeks out might be appropriate to send a postcard or other piece of direct mail. A month out is a good time to start posting booth numbers on social media using show hashtags (be sure to include some cool photos from last year’s appearance!).
- Know Your Neighbors. Yup, your show neighbors. Learn who’s next to you and across the aisle from you. Reach out to their marketing person and see what they might tell you about their appearance. If they’re planning on doing a live presentation in their booth four times an hour, that might affect your approach.
- Know Your Lead Capture Process. Are you scanning badges? That’s a good start. But will that scan capture the time and manner of follow up, or the type of follow up that is agreed upon by the prospect? Have a system in place that works.
No doubt you can come up with a few more based on your own experience over the years. But maybe these can kickstart the conversation!