Pre-Show Marketing Calendar
Welcome to another edition of our guide to planning an exhibition. In previous weeks we have covered organising your stand, preparing for the event part 1 and part 2, your exhibition stand checklist and final venue arrangements. This week we will cover your pre-show marketing. This is an essential part of preparing for an exhibition so it is important to allow enough time to do it.
We recommend that you start your pre-show marketing at least 6 weeks before the event. You want to give customers and prospects enough warning to get it in their diaries. Marketing to as many prospects as possible will maximise the number of visitors to your stand, giving you a good return on investment (ROI) for the show.
The Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) found that 76% of attendees use pre-show information to schedule their agenda. You will have a lot of other exhibitors competing for their attention so making the most of pre-show marketing opportunities is important, the most successful exhibitors will be doing all of the activities listed below.
We suggest that you allocate around 6% of your overall event budget to doing this. Much of the pre-show marketing will not cost anything other than time. There are a number of mediums you can use to market your attendance at an event:
1. Website – if you have a company website use the news or blog section to publish an article about the show. Make sure you include details like the date, time, location and your stand number. Encourage readers to contact you to book a meeting at the show.
2. Direct Mail – direct mail remains an effective pre-show marketing technique. Sending prospects and clients an invitation with a VIP registration ticket will help get the exhibitor on these attendees’ show agendas. Directing potential visitors to the show-specific page on the exhibitor’s website also works well. According to CEIR, companies that send multiple pre-show invitations see 50% more traffic in their booths than companies that don’t.
3. Create a registration page - A platform like Eventbrite makes registration simple and easy for trade show attendees. You can send them a link via email or populate the appointment time while you’re on the phone and then send a confirmation link.
4. Email – You can change your email signature in the weeks prior to the event to advertise your attendance. Email all your customers and prospects once or twice before the show and encourage them to meet you there.
5. Telemarketing – Follow up the email with calls to prospects and customers to arrange meetings either during or after the show.
6. Social Media – Share updates on social media every week in the run up to the event. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are great ways to reach new audiences. Visit the pages of the event organiser and comment on them, linking back to your site. Note the hashtags being used by the organiser and use them yourself in your updates. Encourage members of staff to share the posts. If you plan to launch a new product or service at the show, let people know, try to drum up some excitement, use images of your stand or products within the posts.
7. PR – Magazines and external websites are a good medium to reach new customers. Issue a press release to industry-specific media in the run up to the event. Cover anything you intend to do at the show, be that launching a new product or giving demonstrations. Include a picture of your stand so people will know what to look out for. You can use a PR agency to do this, or just distribute it to journalists and editors yourself.
8. Advertising – You may want to advertise in the show catalogue, or other industry specific publications or websites. This will take up your budget but is a guaranteed way to appear in the media. You might want to include some form of discount for those that produce the advert at the show.
9. Sponsorship – Some event organisers offer sponsorship opportunities. This may enable you to appear on signage, on their web pages or prominently within the catalogue.
10. Incentives - Offer a time-limited incentive, to create a sense of urgency. “The first 30 people to visit our stand will get a special prize!”
Pre-show marketing is vital if you want to maximise the number of attendees who visit your stand. You will be competing with many other exhibitors so it’s important to allocate time and money to your marketing efforts. For help organising your next exhibition call us on 0800 019 0141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.