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How to Maximize Your Trade Show Investment

Here are some concrete tips to help you get more value out of the shows at which you exhibit.
By Sonja Valenta

Goals and Strategy
Sit down with your team and identify the goals of your exhibition. You will need to be specific about the things you wish to accomplish from your participation. Examples include increasing or maintaining brand awareness, building buzz about the launch of a new product, gaining exposure to new prospective customers, targeting lead generation and so on.

Once you have determined your goals, you can establish benchmarks to measure success, such as booth traffic, quality or quantity of leads attained, increased social-media and/or website traffic (during and after the event), press coverage regarding your products and so forth. Typically, the more specific the goal, the easier it is to measure the results and to determine the value of your participation.

Once you have established your goals and your target audience, you can develop a key positioning for your event-marketing campaign and booth exhibit. You will want to reinforce a clear message about who you are, why you are there and why your target audience should care. This message should carry through in your sales pitch and marketing efforts before, during and after the event.

Pre-show Marketing
Don't underestimate the importance of pre-show marketing. Inc. Magazine research shows that 70 percent of event attendees plan a list of whom to visit before ever entering the convention center doors. You need to make sure you are on their list! How, you ask? Pre-show marketing!

Be sure to read the show manual. There is bound to be information about pre-show marketing opportunities offered to exhibitors. For example, for our spring event, RFID Journal LIVE!, we provide exhibitors with a unique customer discount code and customized marketing collateral—such as HTML e-mails, brochures and banner advertisements to invite customers and prospects, as well as promote their participation at the event. We also have an online community, RFID Connect, where all attendees, speakers and exhibitors can get in touch with each other, request meetings and research products, both prior to the event and year-round.

Many exhibiting companies do not consider incorporating snail mail into their marketing campaign. However, it is a proven and underutilized marketing channel that is sure to help your company stand out. Send postcards, special invitations or offers to your list and the pre-registered event list. Give them a specific reason to visit you at the event.

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