Trade Show Printing: Use Print Materials to Promote, Engage & Follow-Up
Exhibiting at a trade show is an effective way to market your company and brand.
Unlike other marketing channels, a trade show brings you face-to-face with scores of decision makers while providing a dynamic venue to introduce and demonstrate new products and services.
A successful trade show experience doesn't just happen by accident…
As the owner of a commercial printing company, I've assisted a lot of companies with their trade show materials. And I can tell you that the companies that extract the most benefit from participating in a trade show have a well-crafted plan…a plan that is launched months before the show and continues after the show is over.
Custom print materials are an important part of a successful trade show plan because they help promote a company's upcoming presence at the show, engage the booth visitors during the show and provide a method to properly follow-up after the show.
BEFORE the Trade Show…
Pre-show promotion is vitally important for trade show success. Trade shows are extremely popular events in many industries, with large crowds and lots of exhibitors all competing for attention. To make better use of time at a busy trade show, the majority of trade show attendees plan their itinerary well in advance and pre-determine which companies and exhibits they will visit.
That's why it is so important to get in touch with your target market months in advance. In addition to announcing your upcoming presence at the show - such as your name, products, booth number, location and hours - you'll need to provide a compelling reason for attendees to stop by to see you. This could include a demonstration, a contest, a valuable prize giveaway, a special offer, or the launch of something new and innovative. Many trade shows are only a few days in length, so without offering something unique or valuable to your desired visitors, it is easy for them to pass you by.
Social networking sites are good vehicles for pre-show promotion, but printed communications sent via direct mail have several advantages. For example, pieces sent via regular mail can be targeted to specific individuals. Also, printed pieces exist in tangible form, which guarantees they will be seen and held. Plus, with regular mail your promotional message can arrive in any physical form you choose…including colorful, attention-grabbing text and graphics.
Custom-printed postcards are very popular for promoting a company's upcoming trade show exhibit. Colorful postcards are inexpensive to print and mail, so they can be sent to thousands of prospects and current customers. Promotional inserts can also be easily forwarded to current customers by placing them with invoices, statements and other correspondence. In addition, custom invitations or announcements can be printed with your promotional message and sent via direct mail.
Whichever method of print communication you choose for your pre-show promotion, strive for a look that will be consistent with the displays in your booth and complement the other printed literature you plan to distribute during or after the show. A consistent look and a unified message are important factors toward creating awareness and building recognition.
DURING the Trade Show…
Staffing your trade show booth with knowledgeable people is crucial, but how can you further engage visitors? Once again, custom print materials provide the means to improve the visitor experience. Displays, literature, and branded giveaways help your booth personnel attract, inform and engage visitors.
Booth displays - To attract visitors, a company must have an exhibit that is not only large and colorful (so visitors notice it easily) but also one that looks fresh, interesting and projects a professional image (so visitors are drawn to it). Fortunately, there are many custom-printed display options that provide "pull" for a trade show booth, including backdrops, banners, signs, panels, table top exhibits, counters and so forth. These days, many display components are available as portable, space-saving systems that expand, unfold or telescope into full-size exhibits.
Brochures/Literature - The brochures, sell sheets and other printed literature you share with prospects at a trade show must be designed to showcase your company and present your offerings in the best possible light. All trade show literature should be designed to supplement the expertise of your booth staff, helping them to educate, answer questions and persuade. Your literature is a reflection of your company, so don't skimp on the quality. Also, you should carefully control your literature distribution at the show and only present it to prospects that demonstrate a sincere interest. Laying it out for every passerby to grab is a wasteful practice that generates minimal return.
Branded Giveaways - In many industries, corporate and brand recognition is reinforced by providing custom-printed giveaways, either given to visitors outright or in exchange for contact information. In addition to the company's name, giveaways should always include a marketing message. Popular giveaways include apparel, small electronics, tote bags, desk accessories and the like. In my experience, providing something that is practical and useful will have a much higher perceived value and be retained much longer. Gimmicky or shoddy trinkets are basically just a waste of money and could actually cast a negative light on your organization.
AFTER the Trade Show…
In order to get the maximum return on your trade show investment, it is imperative that you follow-up with the contacts you made at the show. After all, you've spent days collecting business cards, swiping badges and harvesting valuable contact information for a single reason…to turn those qualified leads into customers. But sadly, most companies do a poor job of post-show follow up. Don't be one of them!
In addition to immediate telephone contact, it is important to send all prospects an information packet that addresses the products and services in which they expressed an interest. Most commonly, the packet consists of a custom-printed presentation pocket folder containing a personalized letter of introduction, product brochures or catalogs that are relevant to the prospect's needs, an informative company overview and any other documents that demonstrate the company's unique value and help foster a positive relationship.
Whereas your pre-show mailing may have been thousands of pieces, your post-show mailing may only be a couple hundred pieces. This is where short-run digital printing comes to the rescue. Digital printing allows you to create a relatively small number of high-quality pieces at a very affordable rate. And in most cases, your printer can print, assemble and mail all your follow-up packets for you.
If your company has a need for custom-printed trade show materials, give Formax Printing Solutions a call at 866-367-6221. We can help with your pre-show promotional mailing, booth displays and exhibits, brochures and catalogs, imprinted merchandise giveaways, follow-up information packets and more. We also offer great advice and money saving ideas too!
Take care! Keith