Conference & Event Trade Show Marketing Guide For Companies


Are trade shows a regular part of your marketing strategy? For many companies, they represent the single best chance to get new customers. That’s excellent news, but keep in mind, there are many moving parts to consider before embarking on your next event.


The Benefits of Conferences and Events

The most significant advantage of this type of marketing is that these events represent a congregation of like-minded people. What’s better than a conference where everyone is a buyer for a specific industry? If ever there was a time to attempt to sell your wares to the right people, these outings are it.

The attendees are also in the market. They’re actively searching out alternative vendors. Since they’re motivated, it makes the efforts on the day of the event concentrated and effective. Most other forms of marketing suffer from dilution, with a large percentage of the audience not being precisely matched. Why waste money pitching to disinterested people when you can face an audience of active buyers who are in the mood to learn about new products and services?

If you decide trade shows and events are fertile grounds for your marketing initiatives, you’ll need to qualify which ones have the best chance for success. Here are a few questions worth pondering before committing.

Is the Event or Conference Right for Your Company?

The single biggest issue to determine trade show or event success is to ensure that that it’s right for your business. Unless the audience is an exact match for your ideal customer, you could be wasting your time. It doesn’t take long to find unhappy people who didn’t get the results they wanted. Before joining their ranks, it’s worth asking the following questions.

Is the Event Well-Promoted & Marketed?

There’s no good reason to attend unknown or poorly-promoted events. To do so will defeat the purpose of participating in the first place. Stick to the well-lit streets of the conference industry and put the majority of your money on proven shows.

That doesn’t mean you should necessarily skip new events. However, if there’s an indication that their efforts are lacking, it’s best to move on. The most established shows have deep resources to tap and will ensure a crowd of engaged attendees arrive.

What Are Other Exhibitors Saying?

It’s worthwhile to check out social media for feedback on the event you’re considering. These platforms offer a stage for people to share their experiences and commentary, good or bad, about the show in question.

Unhappy people tend to shout from the rooftops. Those who are well-pleased may be less energized, but they will also leave reviews and feedback on the event.

It’s worth considering their feedback. If a consensus emerges, it will help guide your decision. If you want real feedback, consider speaking personally to people who know who have invested in exhibiting at the event before. Exhibitors with firsthand experience provide the best insights into what you can expect, should you decide to join them.

Can You Earn a Profit by Attending?

One part of this equation is already known. You quickly calculate all the costs surrounding event attendance. What’s not as accessible is what kind of results you’ll get in terms of sales, revenues, and qualified prospects.

If your product has a high CLV, earning a positive ROI may be simple. However, companies with lower prices and margins may struggle to get the numbers needed.

When evaluating what kind of return on investment, you can expect to get, be sure to factor in all expenses. Add up everything,  including booth expenses, travel expenses, the cost of promotional items, and any wages for presenters or booth attendants.

If it makes financial sense, secure your spot quickly. By doing so, you assure your company is represented at the event.

It’s All About Your Brand

Focus on branding, and you’ll have the proper mindset to turn a trade show into a steady stream of qualified prospects. Never forget that you’re introducing your message to a qualified audience. There are many helpful tools available to publicize your brand message effortlessly. Most savvy companies will stamp their branding on everything, and it’s hard to argue with the wisdom.

Anything that people can carry with them will serve as a mini-billboard when it sends a branded message. Don’t neglect the promotional aspect of your marketing, because event trade shows and conferences are where this tactic reigns supreme.

Go Beyond Networking

Conferences are no longer just vanilla networking events. They are much more immersive now, and attendees are demanding immersive experiences. That means your business will need to invest time, money, and resources into becoming a leading “conference and event trade show marketing” powerhouse. Does the sound of that excite you? If it does, you’re going to want to bring your A-game!

What Is Trade Show Marketing?

The term “trade show marketing” refers to the traditional format of industry conferences where companies stood and pitched to their customers. Over many decades, these events have evolved significantly. Now, the entire industry gets together and has a chance to communicate about emerging trends. Expect to see rivals, customers, and new prospects all together in one place.

In the past, attendees would complain about a boring event that would bring them to tears. Now, they go expecting to see acts from significant entertainers as well as tons of attention-grabbing displays. Not only that, salespeople for each company get a chance to meet prospects and customers alike.

Configuring the Ultimate Trade Show Marketing Plan

Are you ready for a winning campaign at your next tradeshow?

Succeeding at an event or conference is a matter of planning. Without the proper steps in place, you may well come up short. Be methodical and work your way through all the necessary steps until you flesh out all the details of your campaign. There are many steps involved, so it may be worthwhile to use a checklist or other guide. Be sure to evaluate all the Event Marketing options available to you first.

Make a Plan to Succeed, or You’re Planning to Fail

Have you been to this show before? If you have data on the conference, it’s worth perusing. If not, you’ll need to perform intense research. You need a grasp on who’s attending and what you need to do to reach them. Armed with that information, you’ll be able to craft a winning strategy.

Start Well Ahead of Schedule

It takes copious amounts of time to plan right. Start way ahead of the event so that you won’t be caught off-guard by any developments. Something can always go wrong, despite best intentions. However, if you’re ready for mishaps, you’ll be a position to react fast to fix it.

Some organizations will plan a year before the tradeshow! You may not need as much lead time, but every extra minute will help. If you plan on training people for the show, consider weekly or monthly sessions. Rehearsing everybody’s role will get your team on the same page.

Run the Numbers and Set a Budget

It’s imperative you know all costs upfront so you can make effective plans. You’ll need to decide on how much money for the event and the marketing. Consider all the possible expenses associated with the conference, including before and after the show. Travel, employees, shipping, marketing, and more will need reckoning. Don’t cut yourself short, especially if management is looking for a significant return.

Leverage New Marketing Tactics Such As Geofencing Advertising

Geofencing advertising allows companies to target people in precise areas such buildings, events, conferences and trade shows.  So if you wanted to amplify any existing networking or marketing you’re doing at the trade show, you could do so with geofencing advertising.  Visit here to learn more about geofencing marketing.

Expect the Unexpected

Effective planning means you’ll be ready when something unexpected happens. Run a few “what if” scenarios as part of your planning process. What would happen if someone doesn’t show up the day of the event? Do you have a backup plan? You may need to use a “Plan B” faster than you think.

You Need to Know Your Audience

Avail yourself of any research you can find to learn more about the potential audience. Knowing people wants allows you to create specific deals and campaign objectives that guarantee positive ROI. Don’t be afraid to ask the promoters for as much helpful information as you can. They know whom they’re marketing to, so they can provide a “heads up” about how you should approach the event.

The Show Is Just the Beginning of Your Relationship

You can’t forget about new contacts once the show is over. That’s why you need to capture their information and get them to consent to additional marketing during the event.

Now that they know more about your products and company, you have a chance to cement the relationship. Encourage everyone to follow your social media profiles and to sign up for newsletters. Your sales team should also add all contacts to your CRM to ensure follow ups. The show is a fantastic way to begin a relationship, and following up is the way to enhance the bond.

Tips for Attracting More People to Your Display

It takes a multi-channel approach to ensure a steady stream of visitors to your exhibit. You’ll want to do marketing before the event and even during it.

Use content marketing and paid social ads to build a desirable audience.

Create special offers that motivate people to stop by the booth.

Tips for Working During the Tradeshow

Getting people to the show is one thing. Encouraging them to engage and participate with your brand is another. Consider these helpful marketing tips to keep things moving during the event.

  • Only send your best sales staff to a show. They will respond to the challenge, especially if you incentivize them. Leave “shy” people at home, because they won’t fare well in a crowded environment.
  • Make sure your demo is visually appealing and flawless. If you’re showing off your products, the last thing you need is a malfunction.
  • Give away useful swag bags and promotional items. They are a magnet that will draw an ever-increasing crowd to your corner of the trade show.
  • Be friendly! Nobody should need this advice, but there are times when employees working a display look disengaged. If your company doesn’t look happy or enthused to be at the event, what’s the chance anyone else will care? Engage with people, smile, and bridge the gap between strangers and customers.

The event still has networking at its core. Use every possible networking strategy you can to amass contacts. Your core market is there, so it’s up to you to start the conversation with interested parties.

You may as well treat the conference as game day. Meet with the team early and psych up everyone. You have a single chance to make a good impression, and this is it!

People Expect an Amazing Display – Make Sure to Give It to Them

The ultimate marketing for any conference or tradeshow is to have a fantastic display. Companies go all out with their booth designs for a good reason. Visitors are now expecting visually appealing and compelling demonstrations. Every element of your booth design should go into articulating your value proposition. It takes a clear vision and precise plans to build an exhibit that conveys your brand message in a way that moves people to action.

There are many choices available for choosing a reliable booth design company. Depending on your budget, and whether you plan on renting or buying, you can have virtually anything you desire. Some of the most creative people work in this industry, so have no fear about crafting something special.

Build up your initial concept as far as you can take it. If you have in-house graphics people, let them flesh in the idea as much as possible. With their plans in place, the design firm that handles the custom exhibition booths can take it from there.

Deal with professionals. It’s worth going with the best for a project of this magnitude. Check out the portfolios of the companies you’re considering to find one that matches your style. If any of them are award-winning, they may be able to polish your presentation to a glimmering sheen.

Check out reviews and ask others for feedback. Committing to the right company for your display is crucial. Conduct all needed research to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable vendor.

If your budget is constrained, you may be able to go with off the rack displays with a small degree of modification. Naturally, you’ll a lot of the visual impact, but you can still accomplish a lot with eye-popping graphics. If your product is one that is ideal of demoing, you may be able to put more into the demo than the booth itself. However, most companies are going to want to invest enough to have an exhibit display that stands out from the crowd.

Get People Involved with a Powerful Presentation

If you ever want to underestimate the power of a professional presentation, consider the legacy of Steve Jobs. Apple’s cofounder, based on his impressive iPhone debut, launched a worldwide industry. Your team may not be launching a game-changing product like Jobs, but you can use his strategies to achieve your objectives.

As Carmine Gallo points out, there were five key elements to a Steve Jobs presentation. Anyone who is planning on speaking or demonstrating products can follow a similar format.

Jobs knew that he had to tell a compelling story that would draw people into his inner world.

Next, he would introduce a surprise to keep people’s interest levels high.

Third, he would introduce a headline to summarize the main points.

Fourth, he would bring in a villain so that the audience would cheer more for his ideas.

Lastly, he understood the importance of using humor to sell the message.

Nothing is stopping your team from conjuring up the same sort of magic. Put serious effort into developing a gripping product demo that entertains, astounds, and inspires. When you accomplish that, making sales becomes a simple matter of asking for the order. Since there’s so much effort going into making the show a success, why not polish your presentation until it’s a virtual diamond?

Great Demos Always Win the Day

The product demo is crucial because it’s the most direct form of marketing you’ll have at a tradeshow. Customers will be keen on seeing what you have and how your offering will alleviate their pain points.

Do you want to go to a tradeshow and be bored? No, you don’t, and neither does anyone else. Have empathy for your prospects and never subject them to a phone-in, underperforming demonstration. They won’t forgive you if you do, and you’ll end up wasting the significant investment in the outing.

 Motion & Light Attracts Eyes

Start with the understanding that motion will naturally attract people to your booth. If they’re walking around, sucking down sodas, their eyes will wander until they find something interesting.

Find seamless ways to incorporate movement, and you’ll see a bump in visitors.

Offer Proof of Value

A demonstration is to show prospects that your product does what it says and works as expected. Show all of them why they should consider your offering.

Nothing is better marketing than proof your product works flawlessly. Show everyone how your solution makes lives better. A professional presentation leaves no doubt your solution is exactly what your audience needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for the orders.  A fantastic demo builds confidence and streamlines the entire selling process.

Get Your Audience Involved

Imagine how excited audience members when they heard Bob Barker’s announcer say, “Come on down!” Nothing sends the pulses racing at a tradeshow like involving people in your demo.

Remember to Practice a Lot

If you don’t want to blow your demo, then practice.

You have ample time before the event to have your presenter give a flawless demo. Mistakes turn off prospects; especially if they make it look like the product is flawed or useless. Practice makes everything look easy, which is the preferred way to show off your features.

Make the Demo the Star of the Day

An engaging demo takes some forethought. You’ll need optimized lighting and a correctly designed booth to show your product in its best light. Consult with your display designer to unveil an exhibit that sets off the festivities.

Never underestimate how the booth will have an impact on the customer’s experience. Lighting and sound are crucial elements of success, so ensure yours are spot-on for peak performance. Think of your event participation as putting on a world-class show and handle the details that are needed to be best in class.

Put the “Show” in Tradeshow

Don’t even attempt a boring, fact-based demo. You’re better off trying an emotional appeal. Many buyers won’t purchase because of rational reasons. Instead, they’ll get swept up by compelling demos that instill a fear of missing out.

It takes a specific personality to stand in front of a crowd and demo. Don’t assume anyone can do it. That’s why training and practice will be the only thing standing between a big win and an epic fail.

Demonstrate the Benefits

It’s tempting to try and talk about features, but you’re better off demonstrating benefits. Why endlessly bore people with technical terms that they probably don’t care about at all? Instead, rivet their attention on the precise features that will make their jobs simpler. The buyers will be spending corporate money in many cases, so they’ll do it as long as they understand the benefits completely.

It’s the primary responsibility of the presenter to tell and show succinctly. You’ll know that they got the job right when sales rocket through the roof.

A winning demo accomplishes three major goals.

  1. It helps prospects overcome any skepticism they have about your products, service, or company.
  2. It will draw more people to your booth and acts as additional at-show marketing.
  3. People will have a memorable impression about your firm and offerings after the show because of the engagement.

There’s Still Time to Lead the Industry

If you’re ready to take your tradeshow marketing to the next level, you have options. Don’t settle for anything  less than putting on the best presentation! It will cost time and resources, but what marketing effort doesn’t?

Find out how we can help take your marketing to the next level. Find out how Propellant Media can help you with Event Targeting strategies that work.

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