The effort to get visitors to your booth needs to start long before the first day of exhibiting. In this respect, attendees are well ahead of exhibitors. They have been anticipating and planning for this event for weeks. By the time they arrive at the venue, most have already planned their day. They have visited the conference website, studied the agenda, organized their day around the sessions they want to attend and the outside attractions they want to visit. Most importantly for exhibitors, attendees have also already figured out which exhibitors they want to visit. Industry research shows that the average attendee walks into the show with a list of 75% of the exhibits they want to see.
So how do you make sure your booth is on their list? The key is pre-show marketing. Begin by creating a target visitor list. Here is where having an exhibit strategy really pays off. The exhibit strategy guides every major decision you need to make during the show, including targeting. From the exhibit strategy, identify the types of companies and job functions/titles that you want to visit your booth. Reach out to the Association running the show about renting attendee lists for pre-registered attendees, previous show attendees and association member lists.
Don’t make the mistake of just telling people “come see us at booth 123,” instead reach out to potential visitors with a message that reinforces why they should visit your booth. Research your audience to find out what their major needs are and create a message that addresses that need. For example, we created a pre-show marketing campaign for one of our clients that promised to show visitors how they could save over $1 million dollars by using our client’s services. We created activities at the booth all tied around the savings theme and invited people to come take the savings challenge. This way we not only drew large crowds to the booth, but the visitors were coming to the booth predisposed to our client’s message. If you would like help coming with ideas for your next show, contact us for a free consultation.
Reach out to potential visitors in every available channel. Start your pre-marketing campaign early enough to take advantage of all of the show’s opportunities. Some offer show sponsorships or allow advertising on their websites, emails and other channels. Let your own social media followers know you will be at the show. Follow the show on Twitter and incorporate the show’s hashtag in your social media posts. Send personal email or direct mail initiations to your contact list, especially to those who are in the same city where the event will be held. If available, include an exhibit hall guest pass.
Pre-show marketing opportunities are plentiful but are they worth the effort? Research commissioned by The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) shows that those exhibitors who conducted a pre-show campaign raised by 46% their “attraction efficiency,” meaning the quality of the audience they were able to attract to their booths. Similarly, the conversion of booth visitors to qualified leads rose 50% when a pre-show promotion was used.
Trade shows are great opportunities to connect face-to-face with many current customers, suppliers, prospects, industry leaders and the media all in one place at one time. Setting appointments with people is a way to maximize your return on your show investment. Make sure to get cell phone numbers of everyone you make an appointment with. Trade shows are hectic and unpredictable. By collecting cell phone numbers in advance you will be able to confirm appointments and set up a meeting place away from the booth. Experience has shown us that if people walk by while your booth staff is in an involved conversation, they will skip your booth and move on to another one.
If you would like more suggestions about increasing booth traffic, contact us for a free, custom recommendation.