Once you’ve established the essentials for your exhibition stand, it’s time to think about promoting your presence prior to the event.
Self promotion is a very important part of the exhibition process, giving you the perfect opportunity to drive visitors to your exhibition stand. If carried out correctly, a successful campaign can dramatically improve the return on investment from your exhibition.
The following points cover the important issues when planning, implementing and executing a targeted promotional campaign, specific to your exhibition.
1. Make an Impact
It is important to stand out from the crowd when you are exhibiting. Creating a high impact promotional programme can make all the difference to the success of your exhibition stand.
Consider the following:
• How can you create a programme so that people remember your company, as well as your products and services?
• What strategies will you use to produce measurable results?
• How can you best allocate your exhibition budget?
Many exhibitors don’t often think about promoting the fact they are exhibiting at an event. Typically, only a small portion of your overall budget will go towards exhibition promotion, so choosing how you spend your budget is critical.
Your promotion should accomplish the following:
• Try to attract quality visitors, not quantity.
• Engage stand visitors and allow interaction on your stand.
• Be remembered!
2. Get In Touch Beforehand
The power of promotional activity is something that exhibitors tend to overlook, yet is one of the most important aspects of exhibiting.
When developing your promotional plan, there are a various forms of promotion to consider:
• Media Relations
• Special Event Activities
Remember it is vital to keep a consistent theme when developing your promotional plans. This will help to re-enforce your message to prospects and help them to remember you.
According to exhibition research, 83% of the most successful companies at a range of exhibitions were the ones that mailed their prospects and customers before the show.
Amongst the various forms of promoting your exhibition stand presence, some of the most effective ways to attract stand traffic are:
• Personal Invitations
• Direct Mail
• Public Relations
• Internet Activity
Definitely do not keep it a secret that you are exhibiting! Tell everyone, tell them why they should attend your stand and what you are doing, and possibly even include incentives to boost the response to your marketing efforts.
3. Keep Your Brand Consistent
Brand awareness is important in building up a relationship of trust with your customers, and exhibiting is a powerful way to demonstrate this. Down on the exhibition floor, your company image and business values are on public display. Exhibiting is an extension of your advertising, public relations and sales function of your business.
When it comes to your exhibition programme, consistency, clarity and focus are absolutely essential.
To incorporate brand awareness into your exhibition programme, think about these three important facts:
• People buy brands they know and trust, so consistency and repetition is vital in brand awareness.
• Everything you develop should have the same look and feel.
• Perception is a major factor in people’s choice of brand preferences and buying behaviour patterns.
4. 6 Tips To Remember
Some promotional idea’s for generating pre-show activity:
1. Direct Mail – Use your own database or mail direct to the exhibition organisers list of pre-registered attendees.
2. Public Relations – All event organisers can tell you which industry publications they are using for promoting the exhibition. Try to get the editors name and the deadline for submissions. When you write your company news for submission, concentrate on all the benefits of your company and include photographs.
3. Advertising – Including your stand number and show dates on any advertisement will ensure people know where you are going to be!
4. Sales/Business Letters – Consistency is key! Put the same message on your standard daily sales and marketing letters as on your advertising promotions.
5. Websites – Promote your exhibition participation on an event section of your website. If you can get links from the exhibition organiser’s site to yours, even better!
6. Sponsorship Opportunities – To maximise your brand exposure, sponsorship is a good route. Many exhibitions offer sponsorship opportunities; this can range from on-site banners on the show floor, carpet tiles, giveaways and carrier bags, or even the sponsorship of hospitality areas.
5. Shout About Your Event
Promoting the show and attracting the right target audience is the responsibility of the show organiser. The exhibitors responsibility is to determine where the visitors go once they get to the show. i.e. YOUR stand!
The three key details to inform your audience of, is:
• Where you can be located in the hall.
• What you are exhibiting.
• Why they should visit you.
If your audience aren’t aware that you are exhibiting, it is possible they will not find you. So get promoting NOW!
6. Make an Impact
An integral part of pre and post-show promotional activity is a direct mail campaign.
Your direct marketing campaign needs to have a specific purpose, which will be based on your show objectives. It requires three separate mailings at planned intervals, and remember to keep your design simple but unique!
Think about what action you want the recipient to take once they receive it? See a demonstration? Receive a gift? Participate in a competition?
There is no point doing any of this if you don’t have a method for measuring the effectiveness of the campaign.
A good measuring tool is a card or questionnaire which the recipient is asked to return in order to register their interest.
Increasingly, websites are being used in conjunction with direct mail as an easy (and instant) way of logging interest after a campaign. QR Codes are also another avenue that can be explored.
7. How to Get The Message Across
Using the right mailing list is key; use your own as long as it is up to date, or choose the organisers pre-registered list if allowed.
Some other tips to consider:
• Use a theme to create clarity and continue the consistency.
• Use unusual sized promotional pieces.
• Keep your message short and sweet and consider using different mail pieces for different target audiences.
• Ensure you have the correct point of contact to mail to and not just a job title.
• Print a special theme on your envelopes.
• Try to incorporate your stand number and show name on a pre-paid postage impression.
• Always post 1st class.
8. Exhibition Presence
If planned right, you can promote your exhibition presence during the exhibition. Push the benefits and what you are doing at the show to the press office. Make sure you give them a good selection of material to choose from. Have a press contact on your stand and invite key journalists, this will get you more press coverage during and after the event. If you use a PR agency, they will do this for you. Alternatively, if you are making your own arrangements, the event organisers should be able to point you in the right direction.
‘At show promotions’ can increase traffic onto your stand. One of the most popular is giveaways, but does that option meet your objectives? They can be useful to engage passing traffic in conversation, potentially increasing your lead count. The most essential factor when planning your giveaway is that your contact details prominently displayed. The negative effect of using promotional freebies is that they can attract time wasters, which is why it’s important your exhibition stand staff are well trained to deal with this.
Asking visitors to leave their business card for entry into a prize draw is a good way to increase your database of contacts. However, these details shouldn’t be confused with leads.
9. Keep on Telling People
A few thoughts on promotional idea’s for post show promotion, which exhibitors often forget after the buzz of the event.
Not all pre-registered visitors will have made it to your stand or even the event, which is where post show marketing can help you reach those that didn’t. Often, the visitor list can be obtained from the organiser. This list can be used to contact people with a ‘Sorry we missed you…’ mailer, and potentially generate a new set of leads.
Another important factor of post-show activity is to contact the journalists that visited your stand previously. Tell them about your successes at the show and ask if they need more information. If you do this promptly, you may get a mention in an exhibition review.
10. Social networks
Every smart business seems to have a presence on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Make sure that you ‘post’ updates in the lead up to the exhibition through your social media channels. Make plans to meet people at the event and invite previous clients to rekindle working relations. Get a buzz going!
Remember the more people you have visiting the exhibition, the more chances you have of gaining more exposure and attracting new business!