Planning Successful Pre-Event Promotions

76% of tradeshow attendees know what companies they plan on visiting before they even arrive. Pre-event promotions play an important role in getting on attendees’ “must-see exhibit” list.  For successful pre-event promotions that attract attendees’ attention and mindshare, consider the 5 W’s:whywhowhatwhen, and where.   Why? While show organizers build overall event attendance, you obviously want to drive traffic to your booth. But less than 20% of exhibitors actually conduct some form of pre-show promotion. As mentioned above, 76% of attendees come to an exhibition with an agenda. Pre-show promotions get guests to schedule time to visit your booth—research has shown they can increase attendance to an exhibit by up to 33%. (Source: CEIR) Who? A good list is critical. Use these sources to create a list of specific audience segments you want to visit your exhibit.

    1. The show organizer list is popular since it provides contacts that will actually be at the show. (Be careful with timing your order to get as many names as possible, but don’t wait so long your promotions arrive too late.)
    1. If attendees return to your show year after year, pull a list of leads from previous events.
    1. Use your house list of existing clients and best prospects. Even though they may not be attending the show, existing contacts may find value in what you’re doing at the event.
    1. Explore purchasing names from relevant industry publications or associations, or even a third-party list broker.

What? Use a multi-touch, multi-channel promotion campaign that reinforces your overall marketing message. For best results, include a “call to action” like visiting your booth, downloading educational content from your website, or becoming a follower of your social media efforts. Where?

    • Advertise in conference programs or directories, or on billboards, taxi tops, or mobile trucks.
    • Use direct mail campaigns. Think beyond postcards, and consider formal invitations, or interesting three-dimensional mailers.
    • Instead of traditional email campaigns, use PURLs for even higher response rates.
    • Get social. Use the conference hashtag, create Facebook or LinkedIn events, and more.
    • Create an event-specific microsite.
    • Place web banners on the conference website.
    • Sponsor on-site signage, room drops, or hotel keys. 

When? Create a timeline for creating and distributing your pre-event promotions that includes time for brainstorming, production and distribution. Start brainstorming at least three to four months out, so you can start production at least two months prior to the event. Depending on what kind of promotions you’re using, you may start sending the first promotions as early as one month out, with continual touches leading up to the show (a “rolling thunder” effect). Many exhibitors tie anticipated receipt of their direct mail campaign with digital marketing efforts so the campaign is more likely to cut through the clutter. And don’t forget to monitor response rates, open rates and clickthroughs, making adjustments on the fly as needed. By considering the why, who, what, where and when, you’ll create successful pre-event promotions that get attendees to put you on their must-see list—and ultimately create more successful event programs.

For more information on effective pre-event promotions, contact The Rogers Company. In addition to custom building branded trade show environments, The Rogers Company is a full service trade show and event implementation partner providing turnkey services and support for its corporate clients throughout the country.