As a small business owner or manager, you probably know how important community involvement can be for your business. You may even know how important trade show and local event marketing can be in boosting customer awareness and engagement. What you may not know are these added tips to help you leverage your event marketing to draw in crowds that can strongly affect your bottom line.
In our post below, we’ve provided 6 valuable event marketing tips to help you draw large crowds at trade shows and local events.
1. Create Attractive Event Displays
Clearly, your business booth at a local event needs to be branded. Customers need to be able to easily determine who you are and some basics about your business. Just like your brick-and-mortar storefront or your website, your booth should be clean and professional, yet intriguing and appealing. Your display booth or area is a direct representation of your business–how your event space is maintained and the staff you have manning it are critical. However, this is only one aspect of successful business event marketing.
2. Bring Excitement & Fun
Fun is a people magnet. Consider bringing an element of fun to your business event booth. For example, photo booths can be a big draw at trade shows and conferences. They often end up with a line that gives people an opportunity to learn more about your business. The photo strips they receive could have brand information on the back so they take you with them. Alternately, have someone dressed up as your brand mascot to engage event attendees (or their kids) and either direct them to your table or pose for pictures. The point is to give attendees a positive experience that they associate with your brand, especially if it’s fun and interesting enough to tell other attendees about.
3. Offer Samples and Demos
While this isn’t applicable to all businesses, it can be one of the strongest forms of event marketing. Event attendees love to get free stuff, learn new things, or even try new things out for themselves, and these are all great ways to attract crowds to your event space in a way that directly engages them with your business and your product. Whether you’re a home improvement retailer showing attendees how an innovative new tool works or a caterer offering food samples, a demonstration is definitely a way to be memorable.
If your budget allows it, this can be a great time to get really creative with experiential marketing, too. Consider Delta’s event space at one of the TED conferences in 2015. You wouldn’t generally expect an airline to be able to demo its service. To be sure, the “art of stillness” aspect of their display is abstract, but it was also a huge draw, and what’s more, it led straight into a more direct experience of what Delta offers its fliers—trying out the replica on-board productivity WiFi lounge, in-seat power, and live streaming of TED talks occurring at the event. About 40% of the event attendees visited the Delta event space, and of those, 95% tweeted about the experience. That’s some serious word-of-mouth!
4. Provide Quality Event Swag
No matter what kind of business you own or what kind of events your business attends, it’s time to throw out the tried and tired, cheap and forgettable, and painfully stereotypical giveaways: pens, key chains and notepads. Whether they have your logo on them or not, they aren’t going to mean much to the attendees who receive them after the event, or do much of anything to promote your business to the people they meet during the event.
Instead, invest your money in giveaways that make a lasting impression. It can be something functional, like a branded reusable water bottle, umbrella or mobile power bank, or something fun like ear buds or sunglasses. Food and drink can be fun, too! For example, the New York Post gave away small buckets of gummy bears with custom labels about “sticking together.” If you decide that a t-shirt, flip flops, or hats are the way you want to go, be creative. Produce something clever that your target audience will want to wear or use again and again.
5. Host a Contest
We mentioned event attendees love to receive free stuff, and that point isn’t diminished by needing to enter to win free stuff. This is a good opportunity for your business, as you can request their email address or social media handle in exchange for an entry, building your database for targeting later. You can also hold multiple mini-contests throughout the day, giving attendees a great reason to stop by your event area again. Either way, hosting a contest is usually a quick way to build word of mouth, especially if you do some extra footwork by promoting your contest through your social media feeds or in-store prior to the event.
It’s worth pointing out that in this case, what you give away not only needs to offer attendees value, it needs to be closely associated to your business. For instance, it makes sense for an auto dealership to offer free tires, while a restaurant can offer a free meal for four.
6. Hire a Local Celebrity
Celebrity and radio personality endorsements can make a big impact on how customers view your business, and that’s no less true of having them present at an event. This can end up taking a big bite out of your budget, but remember the person doesn’t need to be (and probably shouldn’t be) at your event space all day long. Make it clear when the celebrity is going to be there, what they’re doing and whether they’ll be available for photos or autographs. If this is done, the crowds will come, raising awareness and interest in your brand in the process.
With these event marketing tips in hand, you should hopefully see bigger crowds at your brand’s booth. After all, trade show and local event marketing humanizes your business, builds customer trust and raise awareness about what you offer.
Improve Your Trade Show Marketing Today!
Remember, these are trade show marketing best practices, and what is going to work for your business and your customers won’t be generic or one-size-fits-all. Understanding how to draw crowds at trade shows is more than using these tips by rote. However, it does make a great starting place for auditing and improving your trade show and event marketing strategy.
- Review your current event marketing strategy. Have you conducted any testing on your old strategy? Is there room in your budget to test your new strategies?
- Can you fix what’s not working by applying any of the tips in this list? Determine what can be changed now versus what might take more time to implement.
- Trade shows and events can be somewhat costly to attend, so you might be wary of impinging on your budget. Remember marketing is an investment that should improve your bottom line. Are there smaller steps that will cause minimal impact to your budget but will support your ROI?
- You don’t need to change everything all at once! Changing small things can pave the way to making bigger changes later on, and give you more room to discover what generates the best response.