The “Hey, over here!” mentality doesn’t work so well at tradeshows and conventions. Sure, you will get some traffic because your booth looks interesting or attendees walking by may be familiar with the name of your company, but that is not what one would call good convention marketing strategy. With 88% of companies participating at conventions to increase awareness of their company and brand, having a strategy is key.

Exhibitors with experience know that to optimize your tradeshow or convention marketing efforts you must not be passive but take steps to actively attract traffic to the booth to engage with the staff (a trained staff by the way, but that is another blog post). Based on industry stats nearly 32% of exhibitors use the “Hey, over here!” method, while 28% of exhibitors start planning their marketing 1-2 months before the show. The remaining 22% start planning 2-4 months before the show, followed by 18% that have allotted the appropriate amount of time to prepare, 4-6 months before the show. Having a plan to attract traffic to your booth is essential.

If 91% of attendees say that conventions impact
their buying decisions because the competition is in
one place allowing for comparison shopping in real time,
shouldn’t you spend some time developing a strategy?

Planning ahead means thinking about pre-show marketing efforts. While show organizers help to drive visitors to the show floor, your company needs to take responsibility to drive those attendees to the booth. Roughly 70% of attendees create a list of those exhibitors they plan on visiting prior to the convention. If that doesn’t drive home the need for pre-show marketing, I’m not sure what will. Give them a reason to pre-plan to stop by your booth.

While there are many pieces to the puzzle, a marketing plan that integrates all marketing channels is required to optimize your success. Don’t miss out on the potential opportunities. Nearly 81% of convention attendees have buуіng аuthоrіtу and because of this buying-power influence within their companies, conventions are the ideal place for attendees to “shop” and learn and buy.

The most popular reason for attending conventions is to see new products. A whopping 92% of attendees say they are there on the exhibit floor looking for new products or services. So, don’t squander this opportunity!

We all are probably familiar with the thinking that people don’t necessarily care about the product they, they care about the end result. This means they are thinking about the cocktail the blender will make, or the hole that a shovel will make. So, be sure that if you lead with product messaging, you highlight the outcome the potential customer is looking for. Concepts like lower costs, environmentally friendly, ease of maintenance, saves times, reliability are also important … you get the point.

But none of this matters if your do not have a good sense of who you’re talking to. While this is not a new concept, it is important to keep this in mind. Think like your expected attendees when developing your messaging. Every visitor to your booth could be stopping by for different reasons, so be prepared. Be sure your message is going to resonant with who you are talking to. Essentially, listen first, ask the right questions and then tailor your response appropriately. If we use the blender example, the owner of the restaurant is probably very interested in the cost savings and reliability of the blender, while a chef may be interested in the whether this particular blender does frothing well or makes soups. So know your customer.

Competition is fierce on the show floor. With so many booths on a show floor be sure you stand out in some way. Draw traffic with an eye-catching activity in the booth. No matter the industry, product demonstrations are a great way to create interest. People like to see, touch and feel. Product demonstrations incorporate the use of all the senses and it becomes an experiential visit. Visitors love to touch and feel and see results real-time.

Utilizing any type of activity that catches an attendees’ attention or requires their participation is going to be a great marketing magnet. Rock climbing walls, golfing activities, a magician and a barista that makes gourmet designer coffees … there are no shortage of activities to consider. While these particular activities have been used many times, there is a reason for it. They work. When attempting to think of something new and unique, have a brainstorming session and throw spaghetti at the wall, so to speak. You will be amazed at what you will come up with that is unique!

Do not forget that including a demonstration or activity should create opportunities for the booth staff to mingle with the visitors and for the visitors to learn more. So it’s not just about having a cool booth activity, the activity needs to create opportunities for prospect engagement. This can include scanning a badge, providing visitors more information about the product and service or an opportunity to schedule a post-show appointment. Be sure to tie the activity to an opportunity to engage.

And remember, there is usually nothing wrong with fun, so make sure your booth is fun and/or engaging in some way. As has been mentioned, booth activities do well because visitors are intrigued by the fun, action, crowds, and/or mystery and want to know more. Make your booth different and interesting and memorable. Ultimately, memorable is key.

There is no doubt or question that exhibiting at conventions has been proven to be effective and valuable. The cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a tradeshow is $142. The cost of a face-to-face meeting at a prospect’s office is $259. With research and smart targeted marketing strategies your company can increase returns without increasing costs.

So ditch the “Hey, Over Here!” marketing tactics and remember something Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

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