But that’s what the exhibition is for, right — marketing? I’m really supposed to do preparatory marketing for my marketing venture? Alas, it may come as unwelcome news for some, but any exhibition requires pre-show promotion to draw out its full potential. Unlike most marketing channels at your disposition, the exhibition is a time-restricted event, the success of which is largely determined by how prepared you were in the buildup to the occasion. The stand itself is designed to be exciting, an eye-catching booth offering an exclusive window into your business — but it can only do its job properly if there are interested prospective clients in attendance. Here are some tips for bringing the crowd to your booth and maximising your post-exhibition profit.
Sales or brand awareness?
These are the two central goals behind the exhibition, and each requires a different marketing strategy. If you are exhibiting to generate hot leads and convert to sales, then you will be trying to get your ‘foot in the door’, to present tangible offers to clients and convince them to do business with you. If, on the other hand, your business needs to simply show up and build brand awareness, then the focus will be more on your company image and communicating your brand’s story with visitors. Outline what it is you want to achieve with your exhibition, and conduct pre-show marketing with that goal in mind.
Pre-show marketing has to pique the interest of prospective clients. Those that already know you may just come to check in and say hello, others might be interested in your business and looking for an opportunity to learn more, but many others will have no apparent reason for stopping by. In order to get this chunk of the population interested, consider announcing that you will be giving out exclusive deals and offers. With an exhibition, the goal is really to get people to turn up — even if they’re only coming to snatch a giveaway and make a run for it, once they’re at the venue they may have a change of heart. Humans are curious animals, and once they see that your stand is attracting attention and that you’re engaging with your clients, they may want to get in on the action. In doing so, you would have transformed a generally disinterested individual into a hot lead through pre-show marketing.
Engaging your audience via email
Promotional business emails are a dime a dozen. Most are immediately discarded; some can even evoke ire in the recipients, who dislike being treated as a nondescript entity in a mass email, a potential cash source and nothing else. The way to immediately overcome this preconception is by producing genuine, unique, handmade copy that instantly engages the reader. Avoid unnecessary exclamations (‘Check out our amazing, life-changing product line!’) and clichés (‘Our brand’s unique story’). Rather, assume the voice of a quiet individual who has something to say but isn’t thrusting it upon potential listeners.
Humorous copy is actually quite rare in an email – especially in the subject line (the most important part) – and any that do find themselves smiling or, dare I say, chuckling, are likely to open the email and pay some attention. It is a refreshing change when a company isn’t too pushy and has genuinely witty content to share. Granted, creating this content requires time, but it’s also no Herculean feat. You don’t need a 3-page thesis — all you really want is a few good lines at the beginning, and some efficiently-structured promotional information following that. Understand that the recipient doesn’t have a lot of time to be allocating to business promo emails, and respect that. They will, in turn, appreciate your conciseness.
Social media buzz
Social media is notoriously difficult to employ successfully as a business. With so much noise, even businesses with a strong B2C element and highly marketable products struggle to break free from the clutches of anonymity. This is why you need to identify the most marketable component of your business, hammer it home, and then make use of shared hashtags and any other means of catching consumer attention. 6-8 weeks before the show, create a catchy hashtag campaign and try to promote your business on the exhibition organiser’s page. As far as posting actual content, behind-the-scenes videos generally go down well with consumers, as they feel like they are gaining rare insight into a different slice of life. Use content to build up the notion that there is a real story behind your business, one that could be written about in memoirs. This could just be due to the characters that are involved, the theatrics of organisation, or any other drama/intrigue that will pique consumer interest.
Pre-marketing for the marketing venture, followed by post-event marketing, lead-chasing and then some more marketing. It simply never ends. Business in 2021 is a nonstop battle for consumer attention. But, with so many companies marketing themselves so ferociously, you have a chance to stand out with how you frame yourself. Avoid speaking in plain terms, put yourself in the position of the consumer and think of how you can actually impress them, as opposed to the typical bombardment-style approach. Use marketing as an opportunity to demonstrate some originality, and you may see surprising results.