The key to great exhibiting is marketing. But marketing is a very inexact science that leaves room for a multitude of errors to occur.
The following are 10 of the most common marketing mistakes that exhibitors often make. Learn to avoid them and you will increase your chances for a successful tradeshow.
- Have A Proper Exhibit Marketing Plan
Having both a strategic exhibit marketing and tactical plan of action is a critical starting point. In order to make exhibitions a powerful dimension your company’s overall marketing operation, there must be total alignment between the strategic marketing and your exhibit marketing plan. Exhibitions should not be a stand-alone venture. Know and understand exactly what you wish to achieve – increasing market share with existing users; introducing new products/services into existing markets or into new markets; or introducing new products/services into new markets. This is the nucleus on which to build.
- Have A Well-Defined Promotional Plan
A significant part of your marketing includes promotion pre-show, at-show and post-show. Most exhibitors fail to have a plan that encompasses all three areas. Budget is naturally going to play a major role in deciding what and how much promotional activity is possible. Developing a meaningful theme or message that ties into your strategic marketing plan will then help to guide promotional decisions. Know whom you want to target and then consider having different promotional programs aimed at the different groups you are interested in attracting. Include direct mail, broadcast faxes, advertising, PR, sponsorship, and the internet as possible ways to reach your target audience.
- Use Direct Mail Effectively
Direct mail is still one of the most popular promotional vehicles exhibitors use. From postcards to multi-piece mailings, attendees are deluged with invitations to visit stands. Many of the mailings come from show management’s lists and as a result, everyone gets everything. To target the people you want visit your stand, use your own list of customers and prospects – it’s the best one available. Design a piece that is totally benefit-oriented and makes an impact. Mail three pieces at regular intervals prior to the show, starting about four weeks out, to help ensure your invitation is seen. Wherever possible, use firstclass mail. There’s nothing worse than a mailing that arrives after the show is over.
- Give Visitors An Incentive To Visit Your Booth
Whatever promotional vehicles you use, make sure that you give visitors a reason to come and visit you. With a hall overflowing with fascinating products/services, combined with time constraints, people need an incentive to come and visit your booth. First and foremost their primary interest is in “what’s new!” They are eager to learn about the latest technologies, new applications, or anything that will help save them time and/or money. Even if you don’t have a new product/service to introduce, think about a new angle to promote your offerings.
- Have Giveaways That Work
Tied into giving visitors an incentive to visit your stand is the opportunity to offer a remium item that will entice them. Your giveaway items should be designed to increase your memorability, communicate, motivate, promote or increase recognition of your company. Developing a dynamite giveaway takes thought and creativity. Consider what your target audience wants, what will help them do their job better, what they can’t get elsewhere, what is product/service related and educational. Think about having different gifts for different types of visitors. Use your website to make an offer for visitors to collect important information, such as an executive report, when they visit your stand. Giveaways should be used as a reward or token of appreciation for visitors participating in a demonstration, presentation or contest, or as a thank-you for qualifying information about specific needs etc.
Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author: “Meeting amp; Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training.