Pre Trade Show Marketing Ideas on a Budget!

Pre trade show marketing ideas don’t need to break the bank to be effective. Here’s a rundown of several that have worked for our clients:

Pre Trade Show Marketing Tip #1:
Become an ‘Official’ Presenter

Book yourself to give an educational presentation at the trade show. This gives your company free publicity, and a chance to briefly promote your company’s exhibit location, events and offers.

Just like you, trade shows themselves need to market their show to their attendees. One great way for them to attract interest in their trade show? Book a great line-up of educational presentations for guests to attend during the show.

Trade shows usually start accepting applications for presentation ideas 6 months to 1 year before the show. You can usually find a link on the trade show website explaining how to apply. To play safe, you should contact the trade show’s own marketing coordinator or programming coordinator as soon as you know you’ll be attending. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Educational Presentations are expected to be just that. You’ll drastically increase your chances of getting a presentation accepted if you focus on educating rather than selling.
  • Bring promotional material to the presentation! If you are accepted to give an official trade show presentation, there are still opportunities to mention how your company or service fits into the educational topic you’ve presented on. Invite attendees who’d like to know more to talk with you after the presentation or to stop by your booth. And, make sure to bring business cards and promo with your exhibit # and location to your presentation! Otherwise you’ll miss a great opportunity to drive traffic to your booth.

Pre Trade Show Marketing Tip #2
Get Your Free Program Listing!

Don’t miss the deadline! All trade shows create some kind of program listing for attendees. Make sure to mark this on your calendar, and submit your company description on time.

Programs are attendees ‘map’ to the trade show. They typically include a description of every vendor at the trade show, a description of that company and the booth (or exhibit) number.

You’d be surprised how many companies miss out on this free publicity by missing the deadline for submitting a company description. Don’t let it be you!

Pre Trade Show Marketing Tip #3:
Send an Email to Attendee List

Rent or Request Attendee Email List Sending a carefully crafted email to trade show attendees is a highly effective way to drive traffic to your exhibit.

Ask your trade show marketing contact the following:

  • Does the trade show have an email list of attendees?
  • If so, is this list free to vendors for pre trade show marketing?
  • If the list isn’t free, how much does it cost to ‘rent’ this list for pre trade show marketing?

Sometimes a show will give exhibiting vendors a ‘complimentary’ email list of show attendees. More often, they will rent this list to exhibitors for pre show marketing. Renting the email list usually gives you the right to contact attendees using that list for ‘x’ amount of times. It reflects badly on the show if vendors are spamming their attendees.

Once you’ve rented the email list, what do you do with it?

Send at least 2 emails if possible

One 3-4 weeks before the show, and another 3-4 days before the show.

Include the name of the trade show in your subject heading.

Let’s be honest, most email marketing ends up ignored as spam. But attendees are on the look out for emails mentioning the trade show they have paid to attend. By including that name in your pre trade-show marketing, you’ve made your email seem like official news. It is more likely to be opened. If the name of the trade show was LOL, you could try something like this:

Going to LOL? Learn how XYZ can help you.

Of course don’t forget to list your company booth #, and to include a call to action. Invite attendees to sign up for a one-on-one demo, or include a list of presentations they can attend at the show.

Use an email marketing service like MailChimp.

It’s best to send emails using a professional email service. Services like MailChimp will help you comply with spam laws. Also, they include critical reporting tools like email ‘open’ and ‘click’ rate. This helps you determine the effectiveness of your email marketing.

We’ve achieved 20-50% open rates for the carefully-crafted pre trade show marketing emails we’ve sent.

Pre Trade Show Marketing Tip #4:
Plan in-booth demos or presentations

Key to pre trade show marketing is having something to promote.

Demos and presentations require advanced planning, so start a few months before the show.

If you have a big enough space, plan to host group demos and presentations in your exhibit space. This also saves money. Renting a conference room or even a hotel room for presentations at the show can be expensive. Better to drive traffic to your exhibit. There’s nothing that drives even more traffic to an exhibit than seeing a big crowd there!

Make sure to promote your schedule of your presentations and demos in all of your pre trade show marketing channels. Invite attendees to sign up in advance!

  • Company website: Banner or sidebar
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook
  • Email Marketing to Attendees

As you can see, planning in advance is critical to pre trade show marketing on a budget. So, do your research and get your calendar ready!

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