1.    Know who you are talking to and what is relevant to them. Who is attending the trade show or conference? Are they Gen Y or baby boomers? Are they experienced charity fundraisers, business owners in the construction industry, HR professionals, or PA’s who run events?  It makes a difference. Are they mostly men or women?  Use language that speaks to your market.

 Think about what visitors to the event are looking for and specifically respond to that. Are they there to find suppliers/vendors? Update skills? Find employees? Purchase new equipment or software? What has been going on in your industry this year?  What are the topics discussed at the conference? Be mindful of the context they are working in.

2.    Stay in character. Your brand or business has a tone, a character, a particular voice. Not all business communications have to be deathly serious, in fact, more of them would be read if they weren’t. If your brand doesn’t have a character, get one.

3.    Give a little bit. If your leave behind gives prospective customers useful tips, industry guidelines, a calendar or technical specifications they can refer back to, then your leave behind will have a longer life. By creating a promotion with added value, you also help build trust. Make sure you describe the benefits of your product or service, not just the features.

4.    Don’t waste your marketing budget on boring brochures.  Conference satchels are often full of uninteresting white brochures on one product or service. Most of them are thrown out within 24 hours.  Don’t let that happen. Think about what is most relevant to your market. Keep a small number of print outs of the information behind the counter for prospects that have a specific need for that. Or better yet, ask for their email and permission, and email them a downloadable PDF. Then you have added to your prospect list and have a great reason for a follow up conversation.

5.    Cut through with ingenious 3D print. A leave behind is handed to a real human being who is standing in front of you. This gives you a precious opening for their undivided attention. Use that time well. Intrigue them, entertain them. This is an ideal time to create an interesting piece that will be read, re-read and remembered. A pop-up card or printed 3D piece that is in an unusual format with short copy will have much higher cut through than a brochure. It will give sales staff an opening to start a conversation (they will thank you for it!).

Later, when the prospect will rediscover it in the depths of the trade show satchel, it is much more likely to be kept, re-read and shown to others back at the office. The extra production costs of a 3D piece will be balanced out by higher response rates and engagement.

6.    What do you want them to do? Do you want them to call you for a meeting, scan a QR code and order on the website, register for an event, enter a competition, or post in an order form in a BRE? Be sure you have a clear call to action. For your customer’s sake, make it easy to find the phone number and website.

7.    Plan ahead. What expertise do you need on the stand and which staff will supply that? Do you need a call centre set up to take calls in the week following the event? Do you need a QR code? A photographer? Furniture? Will you need staff to handle installation, technical questions or extra warehouse staff for orders? Think. It is not good if you find out the day before that the receptionist who usually answers the phone is off on holidays for the week following the trade show.

8.    Use colour. This one is really simple. The satchels for trade shows are often black. You want your piece to be easily visible.  Other businesses’ brochures often have a white background with black type. If you forgot to do anything interesting and have a brochure with 10 point type on coated white paper, it will be forgotten with all the others. If nothing else, foldthe brochure up and put it in a colourful envelope. Then, mark your calendar for 2 -3 months ahead of next year’s trade show to do a stronger piece that will actually work for you.

9.    Be a multi-channel  marvel.  So you are going to do a great leave behind and have the budget. Fabulous.  Its call to action sends prospects to your website or a special landing page. Is it clear what they do when they get there? Make sure the colours and graphic look of your leave behind harmonize with what they will see on the website. It is confusing if a prospect arrives at the website and it looks completely different than the leave behind. If you are giving them a special offer, make sure the landing page or website home page has a graphic or button on it that corresponds to the offer. It is incredibly frustrating to trawl through pages of a website knowing what you want is there somewhere and not be able to  find it. That is not a good customer experience for acquisition. Make sure each of your sales people each have a profile on linked in and enough business cards.   

10.  Buy local.  That is, if you are a charity that helps people in financial crisis, it does not make sense to print your leave behind in China, sending print jobs overseas.  Be consistent with your mission. Besides, print locally and it will be simpler to check up on the job and your turn around time will be considerably shorter.

11.  Small is good. After a conference I have a satchel full of brochures, business cards, foam stress balls, samples and key chains. I keep promotions from people I know I want to do business with in the near future. I throw out information for exhibitors I either can’t remember, or I don’t think I’ll use.  Out go the large brochures that are for products or services I don’t have an immediate need. However, If their promotion is small, eye catching, particularly relevant or has reference value, I keep it. Small means it has a better chance of being kept.

12.  Need help or advice? Contact us and we are glad to help you with planning and marketing collateral for your next trade show.

PS.Follow up in a memorable way. Plan your follow up ahead of time and give staff the time to do it. Ask marketing to design a graphic image to use as a signature for your follow up emails. It can have a photo of the trade show booth on it, a picture of your staff that were on the booth, or the new product they were demonstrating. Then the person you are following up with will have a reasonable chance of remembering you. You want to make it easy for them, right?

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