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5 Steps to Creating an Effective Trade Show Marketing Plan

Despite facing numerous cancellations over the past two years due to the pandemic, B2B marketers still regard in-person events as highly effective marketing tools. Trade shows are valuable since they gather industry-related businesses and attract a large number of attendees annually. A successful trade show serves as a platform for innovation and networking, offering sponsors the chance to enhance brand visibility and gather precious leads. However, to achieve this, a solid marketing strategy and a detailed timeline covering all stages from initial planning to post-event follow-up are crucial.

While several aspects of trade show marketing remain unchanged, the post-pandemic landscape presents new challenges and opportunities. Among these is the growing trend of virtual and hybrid event formats, which are here to stay. Hence, it is essential for your marketing plan to accommodate this development. The following recommendations and essential steps will guide you in devising an effective marketing plan:

#1. Establish Clear Marketing Objectives

No marketing strategy can be successful without well-defined objectives, and this holds true for trade shows as well. The targets you set should be attainable, quantifiable, and specifically tailored to the type of trade show you're participating in.

There are various common reasons why you may participate in trade shows, like increasing sales, networking with vendors, or gathering leads. Many trade shows also provide an excellent platform for direct selling – a popular objective.

A majority of trade show attendees are keen on exploring new products on display. Therefore, numerous exhibitors take this chance to showcase and demonstrate their latest offerings. It's a smart move to align your participation with new product releases.

Having multiple objectives is perfectly acceptable. However, it's crucial to develop a marketing strategy that encompasses all your goals. For instance, you might aim to sell directly to booth visitors while simultaneously collecting high-quality leads to follow up on later.

#2. Select the Most Relevant Trade Shows

Trade shows typically cater to specific industries. For instance, some focus on the manufacturing sector, while others target innovative digital technology, among others. It is crucial to select the appropriate trade shows to attend to maximize your return on investment.

Additionally, concentrate on trade shows that align with your target audience, making it essential to understand your ideal customer before marketing. Some trade shows are tailored for small businesses, while others target global enterprises.

You can discover trade shows worldwide by using Google or the Trade Show News Network, which also enables you to filter events by industry. After selecting a trade show, remember to register early to increase your chances of securing a booth in your preferred location.

#3. Develop a Marketing Timeline

Organizing a fruitful trade show requires ample preparation time, and commencing your marketing efforts just weeks before the event will result in missed opportunities. Ideally, you should initiate planning one year prior to larger events and begin generating enthusiasm shortly after.

Trade show promotion extends far beyond the event itself, both before and after it occurs, which necessitates the establishment of a timeline. Timing your announcements play a crucial role in ensuring that potential visitors don't forget you too early or miss out on the excitement if revealed too late.

To alleviate stress and enhance your event's success potential, it is imperative to devise a comprehensive timeline that includes announcements, email newsletters, social media posts, and other content distribution.

#4. Create Captivating Content

Trade shows have always been effective in direct selling and lead generation, but measuring their impact was challenging in the past. However, beacons and mobile apps have changed this, offering more information to attendees while also giving sponsors and organizers insight into their audience. By incorporating content marketing into your trade show strategy, you can leverage these technologies to reach your target audience before, during, and after the event. For instance, an email marketing campaign can keep existing clients informed about upcoming trade shows and build excitement, particularly if a new product launch is planned.

Other successful content formats for increasing awareness and creating buzz around your presence include social media posts, blog articles, and slideshow presentations. A well-planned content strategy not only entices attendees to visit your booth but also boosts website traffic and generates leads and sales from those who won't be attending the trade show.

#5. Engage in Post-Trade Show Follow-Ups

The follow-up process after a trade show is crucial to your marketing success. Neglecting this step might result in lost leads and potential sales. Due to the overwhelming information and distractions, people you meet at trade shows might quickly forget about your business, especially if the event is quite large.

Trade shows provide valuable opportunities to gather leads by encouraging visitors to sign up for your email newsletter or exchange business cards at your booth. However, all these efforts will be in vain if you don't follow up with them properly. Various follow-up methods can be utilized, such as sending appreciation emails, connecting on LinkedIn, or following them on other social media platforms.

Navigating the competitive landscape of a trade show is a challenge that can be strategically addressed through various marketing approaches. Some tactics can be learned from the previous text, while additional expertise can be gained by collaborating with UltraTend, a seasoned marketing and trade show solution provider. With over 8 years of industry experience and a wide range of turnkey solutions, UltraTend can provide exactly what you have been searching for. Contact us now at +44 20 3807 9480 or via email at to expand your global market presence.

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