4 min read (part 3 of 4)
With the welcome return of live exhibitions, and with one of the engineering industry’s most important exhibitions (Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2022) just 2 months away, now seems a perfect opportunity to look at what you might need to consider when planning for an exhibition.
Over the course of the next four weeks, we’re going to look at the 4 key ingredients to a successful trade show:
Design and Build of your stand
Video and Photography for your stand
Communication to your audience before, during and after the show
Tangible items for your stand that will make you memorable
3 of 4
Our third blog in this series on exhibiting is all about PR!
“If you don’t tell ‘em, how will they know” is an old adage that applies to marketing in general, but is really prevalent when it comes to exhibitions. If you’re going to the expense of exhibiting at a trade show such as Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2022 you need to take every opportunity to make the show a success and that includes the PR openings that exist in both the run-up to a show and after it.
BEFORE the Show
Communicating with your target audience to tell them you are exhibiting is a great way to generate some momentum before a show. There’s a variety of ways this can be done, for example, through email campaigns, on social media, via trade magazines, in person on sales visits, via your email signature etc. However you choose to do it, the key objective is to encourage people to come and see you at the show, so you can have that all-important face to face discussion.
One common way to spice up your pre-show PR is to run a competition or prize draw that culminates with the winner being announced at the show. Make sure the prize you are offering is worth-while and also ensure some aspect of the competition involves the participants having to visit your stand.
Announcing some form of ‘good news’ at a show is a great way to ramp up your PR pre-event, as you can use a trickle-effect to tease your audience beforehand. If you are unveiling a new logo and brand, or a new website, a series of emails running up to the show gives you an opportunity to reveal a little bit more each time, until the grand reveal on day one of the show.
Editorials or adverts in trade magazines (particularly ones producing show previews) are another conventional method of telling your audience of your participation. The decline of readership in recent years might suggest this form of PR is on the way out, however for traditional industries such as manufacturing, trade magazines still have their part to play. Teaser campaigns on social media are also very effective and can be produced quickly with instant results in terms of feedback.
However you tell your audience, the most important message is to encourage them to come and see you.
DURING the Show
It’s very easy to put all of your effort into communicating before the Show and then do nothing during and afterwards, which is a sure-fire way to not make the most of your investment.
There are admittedly limited options whilst the show is on however it is important you keep the dialogue going. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is through your social media channels and your website. Regular posts (3 or 4 a day if you can) will keep people engaged and help to promote positive messages about the Show and your involvement in it. This is particularly useful if it’s a 2 or 3-day show as it helps to build momentum and appeals for those visitors planning to visit on Day 2 or 3.
A daily blog on your website, perhaps produced at the end of the day, also helps to promote your presence and gives you an opportunity to focus on different aspects of your business. Make sure you delegate someone on your stand to take photographs and video during the day, to provide you with the content you will need both during and after the Show.
AFTER the Show
If you’ve managed to keep the level of communication going through the show, and collected visual content, your after-show PR should really be focussed on follow-up with the contacts you have made.
It’s so easy for people to return to their day job after walking a show and their enthusiasm for your product or service diminishes. It’s your job to try very hard and not let that happen, and to do this you need to have a plan on how you are going to follow-up.
Time is critical here. Someone walking a show will return with many business cards, free pens and brochures that are likely to sit on their desk for days. Your first communication needs to come quickly to make yourself stand out – ideally send an email that night thanking them for stopping by, reminding them of what you do/can offer them and promising to contact them very soon to have a follow-up conversation. Then make sure you carry through on your promise and CALL THEM.
We all know the stats about how often in industry you need to talk to a new contact before they make a purchase – so be organised, and put a process in place that ensures you can touch base with contacts you’ve made, through email, social media, on the phone, through the post or face-to-face, until you reach the end of the cycle and they either purchase from you, or decide they are really not interested.
Communicating to your contacts before, during and after you exhibit at a show is a vital element of your show planning, and needs to be planned in advance. You can generate significant momentum with your contacts in the run-up by teasing reveals and giving them a reason to visit your stand. And remember, your job isn’t done when the show closes, so focus on how you create multiple touch-points for your new contacts.
As with your preparations for multi-media, you need to be planning your PR right now in advance of Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2022.
In the final blog in this series we will look at what tangible items you can have on your stand to encourage visitors to come and leave visitors with a lasting impression.