Marketing Your Trade Show: Why Should People Attend Your Event?

The collateral is all ready to go. You’ve got brochures, banners and signs designed and printed – you even have fun little stickers to hand out. The speakers are all planned and scheduled; the contract for the venue was signed months ago. Everything has been done to make your trade show a success.

Only, come the day of, no one shows. Lost in everything that went into developing the trade show, you forgot to pay close enough attention to effectively marketing it.

A nightmare scenario, right? 

You should give as much thought and care to the marketing of your trade show as you do to organizing its venue, speakers and social events. After all, it won’t be a very worthwhile tradeshow if there isn’t anyone there.

Whether you’ve never marketed a trade show before or you just need a refresher, we’ve put together a rundown of how to get the word out, create excitement and hit your attendance goals.

Communicating the Differentiators

Why should anyone attend your trade show when there are so many competing for their time, money and attention?

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it should be that you must clearly define yourtrade show’s differentiators in your marketing.Doing so will allow your show to stand out from others, give potential attendees a bargaining chip if they need to convince their boss to pay for them to attend and help build your “brand.”

If you don’t know what your differentiators are, start by answering these questions: 

  • What benefit is there from attending? Can this benefit be found from attending other similar shows?
  • What types of people will be there (job title, experience, industry)?
  • Will there be any attendees of particular interest (tough to get attendees)?
  • What will your trade show have that others won’t?
  • Does your show take place in an interesting or exciting location?
  • What other events will be held in conjunction with your trade show (such as social gatherings or exclusive roundtable events)? 

Keep digging into the details of your show until you’ve developed a list of what makes it unique. With that information in hand, you’ll be able to build marketing materials highlighting its differentiators, and make a compelling case as to why someone should attend. 

Preparing Your Message

Now that you know what sets your trade show apart, focus on writing copy for your various promotional materials. 

We recommend making sure you have the following information ready before you build out your marketing collateral:

  • Event name
  • Event location
  • Event date
  • One to two sentences describing the event (be sure to incorporate event differentiator)
  • Website URL to visit to learn more
  • Contact information for a person able to answer questions about the trade show
  • Social account
  • Event hashtag
  • Photos from previous events (if applicable)
  • Speaker/exhibitor highlights (names, titles topics, etc.)
  • Registration cost
  • Registration deadline 

You won’t use all of this information in most of your marketing pieces, but having them handy will help you quickly build out each piece while keeping you focused on the most important information.

Marketing Channels To Increase Event Registrations 

With your differentiators determined and your need-to-know information ready to go, you can begin building the various marketing materials to use leading up to the event.

Consider the following channels: 

  • Brochures

Brochures can be mailed or delivered in person to potential attendees. Your brochure can go into more detail about your event than other printed materials, so give readers enough information within it to make a decision about attending.

  • Flyers

Flyers are ideal for promoting a variety of trade shows. Get creative and post them wherever you think potential attendees might frequent, like office lobbies and coffee shops. Contact relevant member associations with physical meeting spaces to see if they’d hang your flyer up. If you can convince them of the benefit it’ll have for their members, they might even be willing to pass out brochures or promote your event via email or social media. Provide the high level information about your event (name, date, location, website, differentiator) on your flyer to draw interest and encourage readers to learn more.

  • Postcards

If you have mailing addresses of members or potential attendees, a postcard is a great way to introduce them to your event. Don’t let their small size scare you: by only having room to put the most important copy, you allow your reader to be focused on your message, increasing the likelihood they take steps to research your event more.

  • Email

Using the messaging and design elements you included in your printed collateral, send your contacts an email inviting them to join you for your event. Be sure to include a call-to-action to register, with a link bringing them directly to the registration page for your event.

  • Landing Page

Having a dedicated landing page – or entire website – dedicated to your event will be useful for both your marketing efforts and for interested attendees. Make sure to have a URL ready to share with every piece of marketing you can do, as your goal should be to get as many interested parties on your page to learn more and move on to registering for your event.

  • Social Media Advertising

By advertising on social networks, such as Facebook, you have the opportunity to target people who fit the profile of a “great attendee” – even if they’ve never heard of you or your organization. During the ad creation process on Facebook, for example, you can choose to only have your ad shown to people based on their job title, location or income (to name just a few of the many targeting options). Be sure that your ad concisely explains your differentiator and a click on your ad takes them to a website with more information about your event.

These are just a few of the countless options available to you when marketing your next trade show. As a basic rule, to choose the right tactics for promotion, consider where your ideal attendees are going for information and what they respond to. By highlighting your differentiators in a space where they are likely to see it, you’ll make great strides in increasing awareness and registration.


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