Trade shows have long been a valuable platform for businesses to showcase their offerings, connect with industry peers and build brand recognition. In the post-pandemic business world, maximizing the public relations value derived from trade shows is crucial as physical events regain prominence. By employing effective strategies, businesses can leverage these in-person gatherings to generate significant publicity, establish thought leadership and drive growth. Now more than ever, thinking of trade show programming in three phases is crucial:
- Pre-show preparation
- During the conference
- Post-show follow-up
How effectively you handle all three phases greatly impacts your success in making the most of trade shows in the evolving business landscape. Here are some tricks of the trade to help ensure you maximize your opportunities for PR success.
Great. You’ve signed up for a trade show. You’ve booked your flights and hotel rooms. Your booth graphics are ready, and you’ve even planned cost-effective giveaways. Now what? Well, you’re off to a good start, yet there is a lot more pre-show preparation to accomplish to maximize your chances of success. Here’s a blueprint:
- Develop an executable plan that clearly identifies your goals and objectives, defines your target audiences, outlines the compelling brand story you intend to share and tactically lays out what you must do to meet your goals and objectives.
- Create a media kit with key information about your company and product(s). This portfolio of information could include press releases, FAQs, key leadership bios, a fact sheet, product sheets and more. In our digital age, ensure the kit is electronically available to media contacts attending the show.
- Engage attendees that will contribute to your success before you even arrive. Start the conversations with media contacts, pre-schedule in-person briefings at the conference and begin building the excitement. Position members of your team as thought leaders who are available to share valuable insights.
- Train your team to be proactive and approachable. Ensure employees are proficient with the product and company messaging. Encourage them to strike up conversations at the show and help them build connections with attendees, journalists and influencers.
- Identify opportunities to engage with key target audiences outside your trade show booth to extend your opportunities to deliver key messaging. These could include dinners, interactive experiences and more. Make an impression.
Many think the conference is far and away the most important part of their trade show efforts. Yet conferences are generally only two or three days. The pre-show work should likely take weeks or months to ensure you are fully prepared to shine at the event.
During the Conference:
With the successful completion of your pre-show preparation, it’s now just a matter of attending the conference and following through on everything you accomplished. Here is what you need to focus on:
- Execute the plan. If you’ve done your job well in the “pre-show” phase, this stage simply becomes a matter of being where you need to be when you need to be there and executing the plan. Despite laying the groundwork early, you’ll still be hustling and might wear down at the event, underscoring the importance of doing the work upfront.
- Seek out additional opportunities. Even with the most thorough pre-show preparation, opportunities will arise during most conferences you attend. Keep your eyes (and your mind) open and seize the opportunities that will positively impact your product, service offering or company.
When the show ends, it’s time to go home, pat yourself on the back, take a deep breath and move on to the next “thing” you have planned, right? WRONG. Successful conference initiatives don’t end when the show floor closes.
This is an area where a lot of companies need help. They’re worn out and ready to move on to the next project. To maximize the value of the conference, you must address several post-show follow-up items:
- Follow up with any potential leads promptly after the trade show. They’ve expressed interest, so striking “while the iron is hot” is imperative.
- Personalize your communications and provide additional information or special offers to nurture all prospects. You’ve started building a relationship — do not send a generic email and think that is good enough.
- Utilize your company blog, social media and email newsletters to share post-event content, such as media coverage, event highlights and key takeaways. Extend the reach of your trade show efforts and engage with a broader audience.
- Debrief with your team to measure and evaluate your performance. Were you able to successfully execute the plan? What went well? What went wrong? Where can you improve the next time? Analyze the success of your PR efforts by tracking metrics like media mentions, social media engagement, website traffic and lead conversions.
Discover Our Trade Show PR Expertise
Trade shows offer valuable opportunities to maximize PR value in our modern business world. Your business can generate significant publicity, build brand awareness and drive growth by implementing effective strategies in your pre-show preparation, during your time at a conference and in the post-show follow-up period.
Our team at Comprise thrives in the trade show environment. For us, it’s an opportunity to connect with media that we reach out to regularly and talk face to face on behalf of our clients. If you have a conference coming up and could use help maximizing your investment, call us — we’d be happy to help!