pre event checklist

When preparing to attend a trade show, there are countless tasks to juggle. Between registration, booth design and travel arrangements, it can be easy to neglect one of the most important things an exhibiting company should do: pre-show marketing.

Before a trade show even begins, savvy and experienced attendees typically plot out which panels they’re attending and booths they’re visiting. Although someone may spot your booth and make an unplanned stop during the convention, they can just as easily miss it because another company nearby is giving away a free iPad.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to ensure your company is a must-do on every attendee’s itinerary:

Announce your trade show presence often and everywhere.

You want as many people as possible to know your company is exhibiting at the trade show. Just like you would with a major product announcement, take a multi-channel approach to your trade show promotion.

Announce your trade show presence via press releases, social media, your company’s website and blog, email signatures, etc.

And don’t forget to make it personal. If you know that a particular client or prospect will be attending the trade show, reach out to them and invite them to stop by your booth.

Get creative with your trade show story.

Aside from announcing that your company is exhibiting at the show, find a creative way to tell your audience what your company will be doing there.

Are you hosting demo sessions, giveaways, a lemonade stand or a scavenger hunt? Shoot a short video previewing what visitors to your booth can expect.

For example, Princess of Beverly Hills distributed a press release with a fun photo and video in an attempt to drive traffic to the celebrity Maltipoo’s booth at Licensing Expo 2015. Princess’s story is so entertaining that it would be hard to resist stopping by the booth to meet her in person.

Have fun with your story! This is the time to draw your audience in and get them excited.

Be a part of the #conversation.

Almost every trade show has an event hashtag that’s used to drive conversations on social media. While hashtag activity will peak during the event, many attendees and exhibitors post beforehand to share their enthusiasm for the upcoming show.

Following the hashtag can help you identify and connect with these attendees ahead of time.

Although a lot of trade shows will list the event hashtag on their website, you may need to check out the organizer’s social media profile or do a quick search on Twitter to see what hashtag they’re using. You may even discover that some attendees are using different hashtags to discuss the event.

Be aware of marketing opportunities provided by the show.

This may seem like an obvious tip; however, with so many items on the to-do list, many exhibitors forget to check out the marketing opportunities officially offered by trade show organizers.

These opportunities can include free company listings on the event’s press page, social media giveaways, and partnerships with media sponsors.

Although the information may be provided in your exhibitor packet or on the event’s website, some trade shows also host webinars that cover the show’s free and paid marketing opportunities available to exhibiting companies. Other event hosts even have dedicated PR agencies who are available to counsel exhibitors. If you’re not sure about your options, reach out to your contact at the event.

Attend pre-show press days.

Some of the larger trade shows have pre-show press days that allow exhibitors to demo their products to the media before the show actually opens.

These press-only events are great for earning media pickup and getting show attendees excited to check out your booth.

The media loves storytelling, so in preparation of these pre-show press days, be sure to think about the story behind your product and what makes your product unique.

Journalists, bloggers and other influencers can provide invaluable visibility for your company’s message when they share it with their followers — even if they don’t publish a story about it.