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Attracting, Holding Good Trade Show Traffic

By: Andy Marken

In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Today, the tradeshow "business" consumes more than $15,000,000 a year from firms just like yours. Every day there are hundreds of shows going on in every major show city around the globe. For most organizations, these shows represent a tremendous expense. You must make certain you are getting maximum return for your investment and minimize wasted time and money.

Show Experts

Walk down the aisle of a typical show (or think back to your last show) and look at the booth people. You'll always find staff personnel who stand at the side of their exhibit with their arms folded while customers and prospects pass by. They have presented a territorial boundary to prospective visitors. Only the most aggressive or most needy will dare approach or step into their booth.

When prospects do enter the exhibit, untrained salespeople allow the customer to control the situation rather than taking control themselves. You have to encourage them to be active, not reactive. But, your first task is getting people to and into your booth.

You can do this with:
  • A targeted, high-visibility direct mail effort aimed at specific prospective people in specific markets.

  • Pre-show PR. This entails developing special publicity efforts outlining what will be shown in the booth during the show and identifying the booth number to call attention to your exhibit in the show.

  • Advertising tags. This is a simple approach which again requires at least three months' planning. Here you want to run a strip-in on your ads something like "See us at the ZYX Show, Date, Booth #1234".

  • For very special customers and prospects, initiate a computerized letter direct mail or email contact effort. This approach can be highly effective when you want to:
    • Have key people meet specific individuals face-to- face
    • Demonstrate a specific product to them
    • Have management discuss specific applications, needs, or modifications
    • Literally close a contract
It may sound a little obvious as you prepare your annual trade show program but unfortunately too many organizations seem to miss the obvious and go for the big bang. If people stumble by the booth they aren't certain why they must be there. If they don't know they simply stumble on to the next booth and you've missed another opportunity.

Opportunities are terrible things to waste in today's tight market.

© Copyright 2001, G.A.Marken, Marken Communications

Other Articles by Andy Marken

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