What are trade fairs in marketing

5 expert tips for successful trade fair marketing

Exhibiting at trade fairs is still an important marketing tool for many companies - and that's right. Nowhere else can you reach so many potential customers and business partners in such a short time. However, stand construction and rental often consume a large budget, so it is all the more important that the trade fair visit brings measurable success. With these tips you can improve your Exhibition Marketing take it to the next level.

Tip 1: Understand your visitors and define your goal

Companies that go to trade fairs without a plan, “because that's how you do it”, will come home with sobering results. The first step on the way to a successful trade fair appearance is therefore to define the goals.

Trade fairs are ideal for generating new leads. It is true that existing contacts can also be maintained through a personal conversation on site and thus lead to deals with existing customers or contacts that have already been warmed up - but the main task of your company should be to acquire potential new customers.

In order to do that, it is important to understand what the intentions of the trade fair visitors are.

  • Is it mainly about gathering information and getting an overview of the industry?
  • Are concrete deals being prepared and offers obtained?
  • Are deals made directly on site?

Depending on the industry and the products and services offered, the answer here can be very different. The larger the investment and the more complex the product, the less likely it is that a deal will take place on site.

Therefore, the goals of your company should be tailored to the individual circumstances. Possible goals are, for example:

  • 200 new email addresses
  • 15 pre-arranged conversations with existing leads
  • 4 new deals
  • 10 individually created offers for potential customers

When visitor interests, offers and your own objectives are in harmony, the trade fair marketing can be planned and implemented accordingly - and ultimately bring success.

Tip 2: Prepare your trade fair presence

Good trade fair marketing doesn't just begin on site. With the right preparation, you lay the foundation for potential customers to actually find their way to your stand. That is far more promising than hoping that the right running audience will randomly pass your booth and stop. Communication in the run-up to the trade fair should be broad so that as many visitors as possible learn about your appearance.

  • Own communication channels: Point out your upcoming trade fair presence on your website, in e-mails and newsletters, on invoices and offers or in a personal conversation. A small banner or a note with your location and the most important facts about the trade fair are enough to generate initial attention. Maybe you also have time to write a series of articles for your company blog? There you can tease various topics that will play a role in your presence at the trade fair in advance.
  • Landing page: You can go one step further with a landing page specially developed for the trade fair. Here you can present further information such as your main topic, the trade fair team or planned campaigns such as lectures. A contact form that invites you to make an appointment should also not be missing. Ideally, an extra e-mail address is created for this so that the appointments are collected and sent to the right contact person. If care is also taken when setting up the landing page that it is SEO-optimized, this will also find visitors who are looking for information about the trade fair in general online.
  • Social media: You can use social media platforms such as Facebook, XING or LinkedIn to distribute the link to the landing page and invite fans and contacts to make appointments. Another idea is to create an event: invite you to a drink, a short lecture at the stand or other activities. Anyone who shows interest in these events may also be considered a customer. So you get a little insight into your target group and also build a personal bond.
  • PR: Another way of drawing attention to your presence at the trade fair in advance is PR work. A press release for the relevant specialist media, in which you briefly outline the special features of your trade fair presence or your message, is sufficient.
  • Exhibition media: Many trade fairs have their own blogs or print publications that are distributed during the fair. Perhaps there is the possibility in these media to convince (future) trade fair visitors of your expertise with a guest contribution and thus to build initial trust before they meet you personally at your stand.

Tip 3: adapt the stand design to the goals of trade fair marketing

At the fair itself, advertising for the attention of visitors continues. So think about how your stand design can support you on the way to your goals. A well-made brochure, flyer and business cards are a natural part of trade fair marketing - but how can you attract trade fair visitors and invite them to linger so that there is a real chance of a conversation or a new contact?

Two factors are decisive for whether your stand achieves the desired effect and attracts people: Either it is exciting and entertaining or it offers the visitor real added value from which he can benefit in everyday work. Ideally, these two things can even be combined.

Exceptional exhibits that are stylishly staged attract attention. Those who do not sell products that can be exhibited at a trade fair or offer services can still attract visitors with interesting product and explanatory films, VR installations or a funny photo box. Or convince with content! Because a trade fair stand does not necessarily have to be a vehicle for promoting one's own services and products.

Tip 4: Offer information

Rather, use your presence at the trade fair to surprise customers with real added value. Further training and the exchange of knowledge are not negligible interests of trade fair visitors.

For example, as part of the trade fair program, you can give a lecture that is not about selling your product or putting your company in a good light. Rather, you should provide real information that will provide potential customers with solutions to problems they face in their day-to-day work. The trade fair program or a corresponding motto provide information about which topics are particularly relevant at the moment. The consequences of such an unselfish performance at first sight:

  • Your company will be perceived as an expert in its field.
  • Potential customers will approach you and have a direct connection point for a conversation.
  • Unconsciously, by offering information without consideration, a basic trust develops, which forms the ideal basis for lead generation and deals.

Another way to achieve this effect is to link the offline trade fair and online content. Give trade fair visitors the opportunity to leave their contact details at your stand in order to be provided with useful content in return - because without good reason you will hardly get the e-mail addresses and names of your contact persons. This free lead magnet as part of trade fair marketing, like the lecture, has no product or company focus. Rather, it offers information that works independently of an acute purchase interest and thus actually helps the potential customer.

Various formats are possible as a digital lead magnet.

  • Whitepaper
  • Checklists
  • Guides
  • Infographics
  • worksheets
  • E-books
  • Webinars
  • Audio books

It is important that the lead magnet meets the interests of the potential lead. Of course, offline lead magnets can also be used, such as sending a DVD or a book. Sending digital content is often the better and easier option, especially when the budget for marketing is limited.

Tip 5: Take seriously the follow-up and evaluation of trade fair marketing

When the fair is over, timing is important. Don't keep visitors who gave you their contact details to receive the lead magnet waiting. In doing so, you are gambling away the newly built trust. If you do not work with iPads or the like at the trade fair stand, so that the transmission of digital content can take place immediately, you should start the follow-up work on the day after the trade fair.

Build an e-mail funnel before the trade fair, with the help of which the follow-up can take place automatically. A funnel could, for example, have the following structure:

  1. Day 1 after the trade fair: Sending out the lead magnet with direct reference to the trade fair
  2. Day 3 after the fair: Reminder of the lead magnet
  3. Day 6 after the trade fair: Follow-up, refresh your memory of your visit to the trade fair
  4. Week 2 to 5 after the trade fair: Weekly sending out of further content offers such as lists, tips or links to detailed blog posts on the company blog

This continuous supply of added value that does not require anything in return increases the contact's trust in your company: They feel that they are being taken seriously and believe in your expertise. This automatically puts you on the shortlist if the contact finally wants to buy.

Follow-up email marketing has the advantage that the success rate is relatively easy to measure:

  • Which contacts download the lead magnet?
  • Who will open the emails?
  • Who unsubscribes from the mailing list and when?

With the help of these parameters you can evaluate your own strategy as well as the quality and relevance of the content. In general, every trade fair appearance should be consistently evaluated. Therefore ask yourself afterwards:

  • Have the intended goals been achieved?
  • If not: what was it? Was the advance communication or the on-site presentation expandable?
  • Which topics were customers particularly interested in during the conversation? What does this mean for the company?

An honest evaluation that takes into account all the strengths and weaknesses of trade fair marketing helps to improve the strategy for the next time.

Photo source cover photo: © Digital Photo / Shutterstock.com