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I am writing this article out of my frustration of not able to find a guide or step by step process to strategies the marketing and branding efforts for an Industry trade show. Recently i attended GITEX Technology Week, Dubai as an exhibitor and now i will be exhibiting in IndiaSoft, Jaipur and visiting CeBIT, Germany. As i handle most of the marketing, sales & branding efforts at my company, so i have to start planning for the exhibition at least a month in advance. This time i wanted to make no mistakes and in that regards i was looking for an article, book, guide or any other stuff to lay my hands on. But alas i couldn’t find it. Maybe i wasn’t looking at the right places. So i decided to come up with my own checklist, so that you guys can help me refine it. I am sure you will. Here is my checklist for marketing & branding for Trade Exhibitions or shows.
1) Get What You Pay For: Exhibition organizers are your best source for finding most of the information regarding the probable visitors, your fellow exhibitors (competition) and other relevant information which can help you plan your visit better. Also ensure the location of your stand is strategic. In certain cases i have also requested organizers to fix appointments with foreign delegates. It certainly helps in setting the right tone and the agenda. These kind of meetings results into more business as compared to other efforts. But yes they have a limit !
2) Put your website to good use: For every event i always ensure that the website is properly updated with a link to page describing the agenda of our visit, what technology solution we will be showcasing, who will be part of the delegate team with a short profile and also a registration form for the visitors to register if they are interested. You can see an example here.
3) Emailers still works: I always ensure that i drive a mailer campaign with my existing opt-in email database and also with the list that we normally receive from the organizers. I give a careful thought to the content so that it appeals to both the target audience. I usually drive the traffic to my event landing page, so that the opt-in visitors can find out any new service that we have launched and the prospective visitors can see our agenda and register as well.
4) Make it a bit personal: The list of delegates or visitors is a good point to start interacting with the prospects prior to their visit. Give them a call try and understand what is their purpose of visit and if they give you time to meet then you can ask them what they would like to see (a demo, meeting with technical team, samples of previous work etc). This will help you channelize your efforts in the right direction. Also it will help you in deciding the focal point of your exhibition in terms of services to be showcased, the right mix of the delegate team etc.
5) The day before: The day before the event is very important, the first half of the day should be focused on checking up whether you have all marketing collaterals, appointment sheets, demos, product literature, branding collaterals, other relevant stuff with you or not. This will give you lot of confidence, if you find everything organized. And on the eve, JUST CHILL !
6) The Stall/stand: It is very important that your stall is branded properly. Follow the rules of the retail, that your stand should be good to see (put a screen if you would like a presentation to give), play music if you can (certainly not a rock number ), a good freshener spray (don’t spray too much, some people might be allergic ) , Ensure that you have few chairs for the visitors to sit. A candy bowl might also be a good idea. Is there anything else you think should be part of it ?
7) Plan, Plan Plan: Plan your meeting beforehand, you must have a list of appointments with the visitors profile along with it, prior to the event. You must have a take away kit ready for the visitors with all the company/product literature in it. This will give you a complete control over whom to meet or not.
I feel i have included most of the points and if you see that i have missed something please do add to the list. It will help us a lot !