Does this sound familiar to you? You’ve prepared well for that important trade fair. You want to gain new customers at your booth. Later, after the trade fair, you discover that 95% of the visitors were again only existing customers.
This is what happened to me many years ago with my trade fair preparation for the analytica 2000. As a young marketing manager at Schleicher & Schuell, I didn’t realize how important a comprehensive approach to trade fair marketing is in B2B. At that time, I still believed that it is the trade fair companies’ responsibility to make visitors come. “After all, we as exhibitors pay a lot of money to attend,” was how I saw it.
I did send out letters and attached trade fair stickers to invoices in order to invite existing and prospective customers to visit our booth. This worked very well for the contacts we already had.
We were listed in the printed trade fair catalog with our logo and product keywords. That was all we could do at the time because online marketing did not yet exist.
So we hoped to see many new faces at the booth and hold successful conversations with new prospective customers. Alas, in vain.
Everything was going to be different at the next trade fair. I was determined to do better.
In the next few years, the internet began its triumphal march. I was fascinated by the new possibilities. Before the next trade fair, I looked closely into how I could gain new customers by using the new opportunities that e-mail marketing offered.
We changed our trade fair marketing for good. No longer did we write to existing customers by letter but used e-mails to invite them.
One decisive question remained: “How do we get new contacts?” In 2002, I noticed the chemeurope.com science and industry portal for chemistry and analytics. They had a weekly newsletter and offered their customers a way to reach target groups through their subscriber list.
“Could this be the solution?” I gave it a try and used chemeurope.com’s sizable distribution list to invite new contacts to the upcoming trade fair via email.
It worked so well for me that, ever since, I have used mail shots from chemeurope.com (called stand-along mailings there) and from other third-party providers for every important trade fair.
That was just the beginning, though. From then on, I tried out new things for every trade fair, such as
- electronic ticket vouchers, and
- invitations with a gift to pick up at the booth.
This allowed me to expand Schleicher & Schuell’s trade fair marketing quite a lot, which helped to gain new customers.
The most important thing I learned from all this? “As an exhibitor, it’s my own responsibility get as many interested professionals as possible to our booth. I can’t leave that to the trade fair company.”
Fortunately for us marketing professionals, we now have proven online marketing measures available to attract new customers at trade fairs. I’m presenting my favorite ones in this blog post.
▶ Understanding trade fair visitors – Your key to new customers
▶ Trade fair marketing – Attract new customers BEFORE the trade fair starts
▶ Trade fair marketing – Inform existing contacts and arouse interest
▶ Trade fair marketing – Gaining new customers by advertising beyond your own reach
▶ Trade fair marketing – How LUMITOS leads exhibitors to success
Understanding trade fair visitors – Your key to new customers
As an exhibiting company, you’re more successful than your competitors if you align what you offer at the trade fair with what visitors want.
But what motivates people to visit a trade fair? To find out, AUMA – the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry – had visitors to trade fairs in Germany surveyed.
The results are very useful for your trade fair marketing strategy.
- Top of the list is discovering innovations. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because the first thing many visitors ask after being greeted at the booth is “What have you got that’s new?”
- The second placed reason to visit, obtaining information, also rings familiar to us trade fair professionals. Visitors don’t just stroll the aisles to pick up giveaways at the booths. They want to exchange ideas and information with experts.
- The third most important visiting reason, further education opportunities, should not be underestimated. Even in the age of online webinars, trade fair visitors love workshops given by exhibitors. Well-filled seminar rooms on the trade fair grounds prove this.
Is your next trade fair appearance already geared towards these visitor expectations? That would be a good basis for what needs to follow:
Communicate what you’re going to present before and during the trade fair. This attracts many visitors to your booth out of mere curiosity. Imagine how excited your salespeople would be about the liveliness there.
Trade fair marketing – Attract new customers BEFORE the trade fair starts
With visitors having less and less time available at trade fairs, the days when they strolled through the hall’s aisles to discover something interesting are over.
That’s why it’s so important today to give them guidance. Otherwise, visitors may overlook the most exciting innovations and miss out on communicating with exhibitors.
Give new potential customers the chance to get an idea of what you’ll be presenting at the trade fair. The best way to do this is to start trade fair preparation as early as three months in advance of the event.
To gain new customers, your prime focus should be on opportunities the trade fair company offers and on high-reach third-party portals. These are the only ways to effectively reach potential customers beyond your CRM.
Trade fair marketing – Inform existing contacts and arouse interest
The basis of successful trade fair marketing are your CRM contacts and your website. The following five measures let you reliably reach existing customers:
1. Set up a dedicated page on your website where you can host all relevant information about your trade fair appearance, including:
- ▶ What will you be exhibiting?
▶ Which solutions do you offer?
▶ Which experts will be present for visitors to speak to?
▶ What are the workshops you’ll be offering?
Incorporate a calendar that visitors can use to book an appointment at your booth. Be generous – offer them the popular guest tickets free of charge.
2. Post on LinkedIn every week about the highlights of your trade fair appearance to arouse interest among your followers. It’s best to start the series with a save-the-date post.
In the subsequent posts focus on one highlight at a time or describe the highlight from different perspectives. This will continuously generate interest.
And don’t forget: link all posts to a landing page on your website specifically set up for the purpose so readers can learn more about your trade fair appearance.
3. Add a booth reference to the e-mail signatures of all employees that come into contact with customers.
4. Invite your contacts to the trade fair over two or three communication steps. Use your e-newsletter to do this. In email 1, start by calling on your contacts to make a note of the trade fair date. In emails 2 and 3, introduce the highlights, offer booth appointments and free guest tickets to enter the trade fair.
5. During the trade fair, post daily updates from your booth on LinkedIn. This will draw instant visitor interest and reach followers who can’t come to the trade fair but are interested in what you offer.
Important: If you’re content with the above measures, you’re always going to be fishing in the same pond. To attract new potential customers to your trade fair booth, you’ll need to cast your nets in other waters as well.
Trade fair marketing – Gaining new customers by advertising beyond your own reach
Experience from countless customer projects has shown us that companies tend to massively underestimate the number of their potential customers. Then they’re surprised when online marketing on industry portals brings them fresh sales leads in significant numbers.
That’s why my recommendation is to take advantage of other companies’ experience and advertise visits to your trade fair booth on third-party portals:
- Use trade fair previews on high-reach industry portals to invite new potential customers to your booth in the run-up to the fair.
- Use mail shots (stand-alone mailings) to attract the attention of the portals’ newsletter subscribers to the highlights of your trade fair appearance and your workshops.
- Offer the popular entry ticket vouchers free of charge. This further increases the likelihood of a booth visit.
I will show you how to effectively improve your trade fair marketing using the example of analytica, the world’s leading trade fair for laboratory technology, analysis and biotechnology.
Other trade fairs offer similar opportunities to motivate new potential customers to visit your booth before and during the event.
Trade fair marketing – How LUMITOS leads exhibitors to success
Every two years, the analytica attracts more than 35,000 visitors from around the world. More than 1,000 exhibitors with large and small booths vie for their attention.
In this environment, visibility before and during the trade fair is key. The best way for exhibitors to increase their visibility is by participating in the official analytica preview.
It lets potential visitors see your product highlights in advance of the trade fair. This makes it likelier that they will plan a visit to your booth. Or they can let the analytica app’s navigator guide them directly to your booth, past the many other exhibitors.
There are five modules to the analytica preview:
1. Basic Package Product Innovation: Present your product innovations on four industry portals and in their newsletters that reach 128,000 subscribers. Additionally, your product is visible in the online catalog and the analytica app.
2. Master Package Product Innovation: In contrast to the basic package, your product is presented on two occasions to the 128,000 newsletter subscribers. In the analytica app, your product is prominently displayed on the start page.
3. Analytica Booster: This additional option lets your product innovation appear as a top product at the head of the list in the app.
4. Premiere Packages: If you want to highlight a product innovation, you’re guaranteed to attract attention with the exclusive premiere packages. Your new product will be advertised on four trade portals and featured in three editions of their newsletters with 128,000 subscribers.
In addition, visitors receive push messages via the analytica app, for example when entering the exhibition grounds and the hall in which your booth is situated.
5. Stand-alone mailing: An exclusive mail shot to invite up to 35,000 subscribers of the official analytica newsletter to visit your booth.
Successful exhibitors build on these proven measures. How do I know? My experience of trade fairs in recent years has taught me that exhibitors have booked several of these modules again and again. And they do so because it works for them.
Successful trade fair marketing is guaranteed to succeed if you follow the 3 most important rules:
1. Align your trade fair appearance with the aims of potential customers and communicate along these aims.
2. Regularly inform your existing customers about your participation at the trade fair. Start doing so about three months before it starts.
3. As a basis to attract new customers, use the trade fair company’s offers and high-reach third-party portals to attract interested professionals to your booth.
These measures will let you attract many interested, ready-to-buy visitors to your trade fair booth and will inspire your sales staff.
If you would like to learn more about the B2B marketing opportunities that high-reach specialist portals offer in chemistry, life sciences, lab equipment, pharmaceuticals, analytics and food & beverages, I recommend you talk to one of our experts for online marketing.
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