By Steve Suhm, AEM Director of Marketing

3 Marketing TacticsEvery trade show exhibitor is competing for attendees’ time and attention on the show floor, not to mention all of the sights to see and attractions to visit away from the convention center. And, because face-to-face interaction is so vital to successfully selling products at a show, exhibitors need to provide attendees with a reason to visit their booth.

Even though companies possess a loyal customer base, the vast majority of trade show attendees hit the floor looking to shop around. So, it almost goes without saying that exhibitors need to take the time and put in the effort to take care of both existing and prospective customers.

Simply stated, success often hinges on the ability to maximize visibility through effective show marketing. By developing – and more importantly, executing – marketing tactics specific to their respective organizations, trade show exhibitors can both drive a significant increase in onsite sales and optimize their return on investment (ROI) in exhibitions.

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 74% of trade show attendees plan which exhibitors they will visit before stepping foot on the show floor. Furthermore, 86% believe face-to-face interactions are the most effective means for conducting business. With these facts in mind, exhibitors need to build (and then leverage) a well-conceived show marketing plan to ensure they will stand out among their competition.

So, with CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 just a few short months away, here are three marketing tactics every exhibiting company needs to use to successfully prepare for the show:

Step 1 -- Develop the Perfect Offer(s)

Ideally, developing “the perfect offer(s)” starts with the decision to launch a new product at the show, or the announcement of a significant upgrade or change to an existing offering. Then, exhibitors must determine what will resonate with their current and prospective customers. With that in mind, exhibitors need to think beyond simply communicating relevant product details and specs. The perfect offer will only attract the attention of attendees if it highlights what they stand to gain from investing in the product, and if exhibitors communicate the availability of some type of sale, discount or special related promotion that coincides with the actual event.

The perfect offer is based on customer insights and leveraging previous interactions to know exactly what will allow exhibitors to stand out among their peers. Is the perfect offer one offer, or are their multiple offers? Are value-adds – such as an accessory or an extended product warranty – a component of the offer? Is a show floor experience a component of the offer? Are the various components of the offer aligned with one another to maximize results? Exhibitors must be able to answer these questions (and more) to achieve desired results on the show floor.

Ultimately, the perfect offer scenario will play out in the following way: An exhibitor is launching a new product at a trade show designed to solve a common problem many customers are forced to deal with on a regular basis. The exhibitor will ensure key executives and product developers will be on-hand to provide valuable and relevant details and answer any questions customers may have. In addition, some type of booth experience – whether it’s a giveaway, product simulation and/or guest – will be incorporated into the launch. And the result of all this will allow the exhibitor to get into its customers’ mindset, determine what they need, and provide the exhibitor with the feedback required to act accordingly.

Step 2 -- Develop the Appropriate Materials and Call to Action

Once the perfect offer been established, success for exhibitors hinges on their ability to develop corresponding hard and soft materials and a call to action to support product sales efforts. These materials should clearly and briefly describe what the offer is and how to take advantage, and they should clearly state the offer available to existing and prospective customers.

The most common mistake many exhibitors make is crafting materials that prominently feature the wrong messaging. The product name should not be the focus, but rather the offer and benefits to be gained by customers. In addition, the problem the product solves should also be prominently featured.

Ultimately, the messaging contained in any supporting materials should be consistent with both pre-show and on-site promotion, and it should help exhibitors amplify their offer. Above all else, though, the messaging should focus on the problem the product solves (i.e. Visit us at [show] booth [number] to learn more, talk with the product developers and get a free/discount [product upgrade/warranty/attachment].)

Step 3 -- Use the Marketing Kit

In preparation for CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020, AEM has developed a comprehensive marketing checklist to help aide exhibitors in their efforts to secure a significant return on their investments in the show. Available through AEM’s Exhibitor Dashboard, the kit offers tremendous value. Some of what’s available includes:

Direct Mail Postcard Campaign – Exhibitors are encouraged to send customized direct mail postcards complete with their message to customers, logo, product images and booth number. AEM covers free printing, postage and mailing up to 2,000 pieces. In addition, exhibitors are encouraged to add a promo code – at no cost – and save customers and dealers money.

Customizable Email Campaign – AEM provides CONEXPO-CON/AGG exhibitors with an official show template and software that’s able to navigate through tough firewalls and spam blockers. Add a promo code to pass along additional savings.

Customizable Social Media Graphics – Exhibitors are encouraged to enhance their social media campaign in order to attract both current and potential customers.

Show Logos and Web Banners – These official show graphics are a quick and easy way to kick off any promotion.

There’s no overstating the importance of an exhibitor’s ability to leverage marketing tactics to positively impact trade show results. And while it requires a fair amount of strategic thinking and internal coordination, it’s worth it to be able to secure more face-to-face time with show attendees and – more importantly – increase on-site sales and optimize ROI.

For more information, contact AEM’s Aaron Sova at 414-298-4166 or asova@aem.org.

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