The media has the power to influence your tradeshow efforts, whether it be in television, radio, or print. Your job is to target your endeavors to create a positive company image and brand awareness of your products and services. How do you do that? Here are 25 important points to help maximize yo ur tradeshow effort.
Before the Show
1. Define and select your target audience so that you can tailor your message directly to the needs, concerns, and interests of your prospects.
2. Ask show management for a comprehensive media list, complete with contact name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of all trade, business, and local press and radio and TV stations. Also ask them about their media plan for the show. In addition, learn how to determine the target audience of your small business.
3. Find out which publications are planning a show edition and their deadline for press releases. Realize that many of the trade journals work several months in advance.
4. Build a working relationship with the press. Get to know the editors and writers. Volunteer to be a resource for them. Ask about particular stories they are working on and consider information you may have to help them.
5. Realize that editors are interested in timely, newsworthy information, industry trends, statistics, new technology or product information, interesting material (i.e., do-it-yourself tips, techniques, or strategies), useful advice, and human interest stories (including celebrities you have invited to the show).
6. Investigate other media organizations not covering the show that might still be interested in information. For example, consider chamber of commerce magazines or newsletters, local and regional business magazines, industry-specific newsletters, or cable television or local talk-radio programs.
7. Understand the do’s and don’ts of press kits. A press kit should include interesting and timely information, including a one-page company bio sheet (corporate structure, executive staff chart, sales figures), complete product information (specs, distribution methods, pricing), good product photos, and key contacts. Do not include outdated, false, or exaggerated information or photos of your CEO or top executives. Learn more about developing a press kit for your small business.
Minimize your press kit information so that it is lightweight and easy to fit into a bag or a briefcase. If your company is relatively unknown, be creative with your press kit folder; for example, bright neon colors or graphics attract attention. Forgo fancy, expensive folders because they do not impress the media. Exciting, newsworthy information is what they want.
Post your press kit online to make your company news available to the media, industry experts, and consumers before, during, and after the event with online press kits from PR Newswire. You can increase traffic to your trade show booth and extend your reach far beyond the exhibition floor when you let all-important audiences access your press kit information. Plus, your corporate information is always at hand and lives on long after the event.
8. Reserve press conferences for major announcements, new product introductions (but only if they are truly new or improved), or general industry trends (what’s hot and what’s not). The media get very upset attending a press conference that is poorly organized and where nothing newsworthy is shared.
9. Mail, fax, or e-mail press releases about your product or service focusing on what’s new. For example, highlight a new application or new market. Wherever possible, include statistics. Always include a contact name and number along with your booth location.
10. Arrange interviews with editors several weeks prior to the show. The media will usually decide at the last minute whether to attend. Continue to send them updated information and photos so they remember your company name. Look for specific angles to interest different media.
11. Have a plan in case a crisis occurs immediately prior to the show (e.g., your CEO resigns, or there is a takeover bid for your company). Be prepared with answers to the media’s and visitors’ awkward questions.
12. Use your Web site to display useful advice as well as to promote your show participation. Make an offer on your Web site for visitors to collect important information, such as an executive report, when they visit your booth.
During the Show
13. Keep the press office well-stocked with your press kits. Also keep some press kits in your booth in case the media stop by.
14. Have a media spokesperson in your booth at all times, even over the lunch hour. Be prepared to explain your product and its importance in easy-to-understand, nontechnical terms.
15. Keep show management informed of newsworthy information for the show daily and in case reporters call in looking for story ideas.
16. Heighten visibility and create positive publicity through sponsorship opportunities. Various media covering the event may automatically include sponsors names and photos, which can often generate coverage that might otherwise not be available.
17. Ask show management about opportunities to conduct presentations, seminars, or workshops. As a speaker, you are perceived as an industry expert. But plan in advance; some conferences request proposals to be submitted many months prior to the event.
18. Provide a handout for your presentation with company contact information clearly marked on all pages. Include a page outlining what your company does. During your session, offer something for free: a copy of the presentation, a special industry report, a checklist, or a tip sheet. Have participants come to the booth to collect it.
19. Use newsletters, special reports, books/booklets, or CDs as effective giveaways. These have a high perceived value and are more likely to be kept. Make sure they contain valuable, industry-related information.
After the Show
20. Send post-show press releases reporting trends, statistics, or information on significant newsworthy information or orders that resulted from the show.
21. Collate all publicized articles and media coverage before, during, and after the show and send them to top management and your sales force. Include the best articles in mailings to customers and prospects.
22. Create a state-of-the-industry report based on your observations at the show and send it out or offer it free to prospects or customers who respond to a post-show mailing.
23. Send your customers and key prospects a download of your presentation or interesting interviews that took place during the show.
24. Include valuable show information in your company newsletter.
25. Encourage readers to contact you by including an offer and an explanation of how to get it. For example, you could have readers contact you for a copy of your newsletter, a free booklet, or a free informational report.
Finally, remember that your target audience is composed of information seekers who are always on the lookout for advice, ideas, and information to help them. Your information must appeal to your target audience’s self-interest, while at the same time promoting your own.
Susan A. Friedmann, The Trade Show Coach, is the author of Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies. She works with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting, and training.