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July 18, 2012

Exhibiting at a conference this fall? Get your event marketing plan in place!

You’ve committed thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of dollars and several days of several people’s time to exhibit at a conference this fall.  The worst thing you can do is just show up and hope it goes well.  As the popular business book is titled, “Hope is not a strategy!”

The success of your presence at an event will be determined long before you ever show up, with an effective pre-show marketing initiative; these pre-show marketing efforts can be divided into two categories:

  • Utilizing support from the event organizer
  • Those things you need to do on your own

It is in the event producer’s own best interest to make sure that, as an exhibitor, you have a very successful event.  They want (and need) your continued support and dollars.

To that end, most event organizers will make available a number of resources to help you promote your presence in the event.  It is up to you to take advantage of them and they could include:

  • Your logo and company description on the event’s website
  • Your logo and company description in pre-event mailings
  • Your logo and description in the on-site event program
  • Access to the list of pre-registered attendees for pre-show mailings
  • A special discount code to share with your clients
  • The opportunity to be a sponsor – the event itself or certain aspects of it (e.g. the food breaks, keynote address, literature bags, etc.); while I’m not necessarily suggesting that you must be a sponsor, you do need to consider those opportunities – take a look at the dollars and what kind of benefits you receive for the investment
  • Speaking opportunities

Now on to your efforts… think through the kinds of things that you can do to promote your presence in the event…

  • Emails or direct mail pieces to the names in your database
  • Posts on your website/social media pages
  • A note about your exhibit on every employee’s email signature
  • Salespeople and senior executives making personal invitations to key clients and prospects
  • Pre-schedule in-booth presentations – for specific clients at specific times
  • Set goals for your exhibiting… how many leads do you want to capture, how many demonstrations do you want to give, etc.  Then work to achieve them.
  • In all pre-show marketing, always include event details (dates, location and YOUR booth #)

Your pre-show marketing efforts may or may not bring any additional people to a particular event… but it will ensure that those who are coming will include a visit to your booth in their plans.  And that will give you a strong competitive advantage.

Question: What are you doing to help promote your presence at an event this Fall?

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