Will your company soon be taking part in a trade fair? Obviously, you want to get as many leads from the fair as possible. But how do you ensure that your stand is distinctive on a busy trade fair floor? What can you do to create extra buzz before, during and after the fair? Marketing experts Lieve Bellemans and Laura Victor have attended and helped set up numerous trade fairs for customers of All Colors of Communication. In this blog they share their tips and give you inspiration.
A trade fair is still one of the most effective ways to network. It’s also one of the few occasions that cannot be replaced by a digital alternative. During the pandemic, many organisations were forced to experiment with virtual versions of their trade fair, but the results were usually not the same. People visit a trade fair primarily to network and have a chat. Local fairs in particular saw their visitors return quickly after Covid. The huge success of the cyber security event Cybersec Europe is a good example of this.
For companies, simply being present at a trade fair is no guarantee of success, of course. Behind any popular stand is a carefully devised marketing strategy with activations that generate quality leads. In concrete terms, there are three moments at which you need to take action from a marketing point of view:
In the weeks leading up to a trade fair, you have to convince customers and prospects not only to attend the fair, but to plan to visit your stand. This can be done, for example, by teasing them with a direct mailing or sending them something that they need to take with them to the fair, such as a code for a safe that they have to activate at your stand. Another way to attract attention is to distribute bold content through your own channels, through the fair’s channels or through the media that the target public reads. Or send a personalised invitation to visit your stand. With a teasing digital campaign you can make your leads and prospects enthusiastic about visiting the fair. And that is something that our experts from the digital team will be happy to help you with.
The fair itself also offers plenty of opportunities to attract visitors, of course. But as there are probably dozens of other companies on the floor, you need to make sure that you stand out at every point. A link between your stand and your product is nice, but it’s by no means necessary. For example, we once decorated the stand of a security company with a genuine ball pit. Men in suits diving into a ball pit – it was a winner. Everyone at the fair saw the stand.
A well-attended stand will automatically attract even more people, so make sure that visitors linger as long as possible. This can be done by providing food or drinks, for example. The smell of freshly baked waffles will not only entice people to your stand, but also create a queue of takers for the treats you have on offer. Or go for some other fun activity that brings people over to your stand. For instance, we once invited a caricaturist to make drawings of visitors. We also got one customer’s sales team to play darts with their guests. For another customer, we set up a quiz that gave participants the chance to win a device from the company. This is the perfect moment for exhibitors to start a conversation and make new contacts.
Some fairs organise keynotes or panel discussions at regular intervals. Be sure to check whether you have an expert in-house who could get involved in this: it’s an opportunity to tell an interesting story and trigger the audience to come to your stand later in the day.
Finally, it’s also worth walking around the fair and not restricting yourself to your own stand. Even if you don’t have a stand yourself, you can still be present and attract notice. For example, we once got a mascot to wander around the fair, even though the company itself didn’t have a stand.
All these examples of activations are primarily intended to draw the public to your stand, but naturally it’s also important to collect data from your visitors. A busy stand is worthless without data from the people who drop in. Either record their details yourself or use the app that most fairs offer nowadays.
In the days and weeks after a trade fair, it’s time to reap the harvest from your participation. Use the data you’ve collected to engage your leads. Add them to your contact list and set up a smart strategy to get your prospects excited about your brand. Think of it like a first date: you made a good first impression at the fair, but after that first introduction, it’s up to you to maintain the contact’s enthusiasm.
You can start very simply by sending a thank you message to those who visited your stand and inviting them to reach out if they would like more information. Don’t forget to communicate on your social media channels about what you did during the fair. For example, you could use photos or an aftermovie.
If you organised a competition, it’s best to leave it till after the fair to announce the winners. This is a unique opportunity for your sales team to personally present the prize and once create another contact moment. Also, consider a prize that offers potential long after the fair. VIP tickets for Tomorrowland are fun to receive, but the festival itself also offers a new opportunity to strengthen your bond with a customer or prospect in a less formal setting.
So the message is to stand out and appeal to your audience. That sounds simpler than it is, which is why you would do well to bring in a specialised partner. At All Colors we start by mapping everything out using retroplanning. Our creative teams come up with a strong strategy with which you’re guaranteed to score during the fair. We then test our ideas and our internal teams join forces to implement them and ensure their success. In other words, we send in as many crosses as possible, leaving your sales teams with the task of simply heading the ball into the goal.
Are you looking for a partner who will take care of organising things from A to Z? Or do you just need an innovative concept to make your trade fair participation more attractive? Everything is possible at All Colors: from concept and practical organisation to building your stand, communication and lead generation, catering, goodies and PR. Want to know more? Then be sure to contact us!