Between the pandemic shutdowns and all the emphasis on online marketing, you may have forgotten about the power of an old-school marketing tool—the trade show.
By presenting your fencing products and selling your range of services at trade shows, you can build your brand identity and reach new customers.
Plus, since most fencing-related trade shows were canceled in 2020 and early 2021, attending a trade show will seem fun again. There is a good chance you will be reaching a larger audience and one that is more open and eager to learning about your company than ever.
1. Choose the right shows
Make sure the shows match your marketing goals. Are you hoping to reach new building contractors to be part of their commercial jobs? Or are you focusing more on homeowners? Seek out the shows that will attract the customers you want to attract.
Search online for their demographics, schedules, fees, locations, and requirements.
Some organizations may be rescheduling shows for the fall, while others are taking reservations for next spring. In either case, you will want to get the ball rolling early, so you do not run the risk of being shut out.
Ask the show organizer questions about expected attendees and all the booth details you will need to plan your display.
2. Plan your booth
Getting results at a trade show involves more than just setting up a table of your wares. A successful trade show marketing effort takes planning and coordination. Here are some factors to consider:
How much room will you have? These dimensions will determine how many types of vinyl fences you will be able to display.
What lighting is available, and what are the options to enhance it to show your fence samples to their best advantage?
How will you convey the name and the message of your company?
Will you hang a banner or use signs?
What tools and accessories will you need?
Consider the layout of the entire room. How can you attract customers from all directions to your booth?
3. Develop engaging materials early
You will want materials for your visitors to look at while they are at your booth, as well as to take home with them.
It is time to evaluate your existing promotional brochures and give them a fresh look that goes along with the look and feel of your booth. Consistent messaging will help visitors remember you. Also, consider adding a coupon that offers a discount to attendees.
Another strategy is to offer a fun giveaway. People love discount offers, but they will gladly accept stickers, pens, cups, and other branded swag. Make sure these items clearly show your name, logo, and website or contact information and that they attractively reflect your overall brand.
4. Use social media before, during, and after the show
Yes, trade shows are in-person events, but that does not mean you cannot harness the value of social media to get the most out of them. Promote your attendance at the show through all your social media channels ahead of time.
While you’re there, post photos of the event and hashtags and locations to keep your followers updated on your booth. Engage with attendees by liking and commenting on their posts and offering small prizes and other incentives for them to visit your booth.
You can post photos and thank you messages after you’ve packed up and retuned home to keep the energy going.
5. Staff your booth with your very best team members
The people staffing your booth are the face of your company, and they need to be neat, polite, and knowledgeable about vinyl fences. You may need to do some staff training and even some role-playing before you head to the show. Also, think about ordering some crisp-looking branded clothing for your staff members to wear at the show.
6. Reach customers outside the booth
Yes, the booth is critical to a successful trade show marketing effort, but do not neglect other ways you can engage attendees while you are at the event. Here are a few ideas:
Choose an employee or two to walk around the show, engage people in conversation, and hand out cards that promote your booth.
Sign up to speak at a panel discussion or workshop that is held as part of the event.
Sponsor a contest or get-together to get your company name out there.
7. Check out your competitors
Trade shows offer you a valuable opportunity to see what your competitors are up to. Feel free to visit their booths and welcome them at yours. You will see things they are doing differently and be able to judge what you think works better—or not as we—as your approach.
8. Follow up with leads
After the show, send an email or a postcard to all your leads, thanking them for visiting your booth and reminding them of your fencing products and services and the discount you are offering them. Place these potential customers on your newsletter list for consistent follow-up.
Do not expect to know right away if exhibiting at a trade show was worth the time and expense. It may take some time to see if your marketing efforts paid off. However, if you offered discounts or promotional codes only to trade show visitors, it will be fairly easy to keep track of the results. You can then use this information as you build for the following year’s trade shows.