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Creating pre-trade show buzz: Three questions to ask yourself

By Robert Lyons

You did it. After what feels like an eternity of getting ready for “the show”, the day has finally arrived. Your booth and signage are up; marketing collateral and products are appealingly visible; sales reps are eager and ready to schmooze. After all, trade shows are “the place to be” when it comes to mingling with industry colleagues and potential clients, right?

But something is very, very wrong. With all this movement and traffic, why is no one stopping by your booth?

Our guess is that while you’re here for the right reasons, which include brand awareness, lead generation, and reinforcing relationships, you may have forgotten one important aspect of planning for a successful trade show experience.

We call this: creating pre-show buzz.

Oh but wait! We totally get it. After all, the logistics and tangibles leading up to the show –planning, preparing, presentation – don’t just happen by themselves. It takes a lot of time, effort, and brain power to make it all happen.

The following two questions will help you create the all-important pre-show buzz for ensuring an ROI formula for success during your next trade show experience.

Question #1: How can we help attendees remember us?

Regardless of the medium, platform, and even the objective, there’s one inherent human characteristic that works in your favour 100 per cent of the time: people love stories.

That said, why not leverage this and bring your people along for the ride?

Using social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, you can post updates using the trade show’s hashtag depicting your journey as the event gets closer. Brainstorming meetings, in-development booth visuals, and even preliminary video teasers about product launches and giveaways are all great ways for sharing your pre-event story and building anticipation.

Keep these posts coming consistently and frequently and you’ll end up with the true elements of a good story, including a beginning, a middle and an end by posting photos taken during the event with visitors. Remember to include @names and you’re sure to get a few likes and shares!

Question #2: What incentive can we provide potential clients to make sure that they visit us?

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the number-one reason that attendees even go to trade shows is to see new products. And nothing creates buzz like the up and coming!

Again, social media can play an integral part of your pre-show buzz by posting teasers about the latest and greatest your company has to offer. Even if you don’t have a shiny new tangible product, you can always bring attention to new industry trends and end-user expectations with an innovative exhibit that presents your company as a thought leader.

As you may have noticed, while these questions are for you and your team, they’re not actually about your company. The primary thinking here is in putting attendees and potential clients first. Consider what would interest them and how you can wow them.

Finally, while it may seem obvious to you, the last question is all-too-often over-looked:

Question #3: How can we connect and engage with industry colleagues before the show?

The answer, as you may have guessed, is social media. The reason we’re bringing it up is because we’re noticing that many people and companies don’t use social media well. What do we mean by that? While everyone loves to boast numbers (“our company has thousands of followers”), the old rule ‘quality over quantity’ still prevails. Liking, sharing, commenting – these tactics for connecting go both ways. The most impactful way to be interesting is to be interested.

How do you do that? Read your clients’ and potential clients’ posts. Engage with them. Instead of hoping that they’ll notice you, notice them!

In conclusion, what’s the best way to ensure a successful trade show experience? Don’t make it about you. Make it about the attendees. Ask yourself: How can you give them a good experience? What are they looking for?

As always, marketing – great marketing – isn’t about what your company sells, but rather what your company can do for your target market.

As stated by the late Maya Angelou, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

A trade show, where like-minded individuals gather for industry news and updates, is a great place to put this into practice, and it all begins before the show.

Stay tuned for our next article about during-show tips and how to keep the momentum going!

About the author:

As a client-recognized industry leader, veteran and Media Mixologist, Robert Lyons has spent the last 25 years creatively and strategically planning and executing his customer’s marketing endeavors.  From trade shows to rebranding companies, he continues to devote his time and skill set to go above and beyond both client and team expectations.

Some of Robert’s most lengthy professional relationships are with clients from the restaurant industry, most specifically, trade shows.  With a vested interest and extensive experience in the trade show industry, he not only seeks to improve his client’s experience at the show, but enhance the overall experience that exhibiting at a trade show can have for a company and the trade show itself.