After goal setting and researching, you should feel ready to commit to exhibiting at a specific show. Now the real work begins…it’s time to plan your marketing strategy. Here are 4 key ingredients to successful planning:

1. A solid plan requires a solid message.

Remember the goals you wrote at the beginning of the process? It’s time to review them. When you know your goals and your audience it makes planning that much easier. What is it you want to accomplish? Decide what it is you want prospects to understand, feel, do, or “get”, and ensure that message is clearly projected by all you do to promote before, during and after the show. Pick a single theme, and stick to it.

2. A good location is critical – especially for small budgets.

Consider entrances, traffic patterns, event stages, competitor locations and any other items that will draw people. You’ll want to be close to the action so that you can be a part of it. Or better yet, create your own attention.

I remember visiting an industrial manufacturing show many years ago, where one manufacturer hosted models in evening gowns demonstrating the ease of using their product, and inviting audience members (predominantly men) to join the models in the demo. Tacky? Perhaps. Effectively engaged visitors? You bet.

3. Create your booth to be seen.

FACT: You have less than 7 seconds to grab the attention of a passerby.
The mark of a good booth is one that causes a prospect to stop, to look, and ask more.  DON’T fall into the trap of putting all your information onto the graphics of the booth; too many words will drive prospects away rather than engage them. Make your graphics simple, eye-catching and relevant to your message and your prospect. Focus on an engaging, prequalifying headline of less than 7 words. (Hint: an engaging question will work well here.)

4. You are responsible for your own promotion.

Don’t rely on the show management to promote you at the show – that’s your job. Remember to include your message or theme on all your materials. Before the show, prepare invitations to mail out to clients and prospects that note the name of the show, the date, address and your booth location and include this information on all other client communication (even invoices!). Other things to consider are press releases, pre-show events, and keynote speaker sponsorships.

For other promotional ideas, or for help promoting your trade show participation the team here at Watershed Marketing Group is here to help!