Marketing your startup brand is always a challenge because of the money constraints. It is often not easy to fit a marketing plan into your shoestring budget. Results cannot come easily unless you cover all fronts. But you have to be selective about your strategies as there is a need to do more with less.
Exhibiting at a trade show can help you achieve a broader reach and build a network in the industry. You may even find potential investors to fuel your business with funds. The best part is that you can do it without spending a fortune on a trade show presence. However, the real deal is to stand out in the trade show because you have to compete for visibility and attention. Here are some tips to win the trade show game as a startup.
Pick the right event
Like any other marketing tactic, you must be picky about the trade show where you plan to make an appearance. Not every event is a good fit because some enable you to connect with the customers while others help you reach the investors. You shouldn’t spend on being a part of every event in your community or the industry.
Start by considering your objective and pick the event accordingly. It enables you to reach the relevant audience and be visible at the right places regardless of the time and budget constraints.
Research your audience
Every trade show caters to a specific audience. Some are for customers, others for investors, and yet others for industry leaders. Winning the event marketing game is all about knowing your audience before diving in.
Research gets you in a good place as it enables you to design a targeted campaign. Know about their purpose, pain points, and expectations. It will help you fine-tune your promotional plan to match their needs. A targeted approach is ideal for startups as it saves time and money. Moreover, you can create a campaign that gets you the attention you want.
Have a budget in mind
Budgeting for the event is crucial, whether you are a newbie or have attended some before. Exhibiting at a trade show can cost a considerable sum, although the advantages make it a worthy investment.
Before signing up, you must have a detailed budget that covers the items and services you require down the line. These include buying booth space, designing custom displays, creating marketing materials, and travel and accommodation expenses for your staff.
Start budgeting early so that you can decide your event marketing strategy in the long term. For example, you can limit it to the number and type of shows that fit into your budget and deliver optimal benefits.
Invest in your presence
Being there at the trade show is only half the work as you need to invest in your presence to make a mark on the audience. After all, you must stand apart in the crowd. You can create a compelling presence with your booth, but you will require a long list of things to do it. Marketing banners make a primary requirement to pull the crowds.
Apart from hanging them around your booth, you will have to place a banner stand at every strategic location on the floor. You can go the extra mile with giveaways and interactive games at your booth. These ensure that the visitors will remember your brand, even as a newbie in the market
Train your team
As a startup owner, you will expect to participate in multiple trade shows over time. You must have a team of professionals for the job. Find the right employees with relevant skills such as good communication, presentation, and engaging with the audience. Ideally, the team should be a mix of professionals from your sales, marketing, and executive teams.
You can go the extra mile by training them because they can serve as marketing assets in the long run. The good thing is that you make a one-time investment in these resources, and have a team to represent your startup at every trade show down the line.
Run a marketing campaign
Being a startup, you cannot depend on your brand’s name to get the crowds at the event. Potential buyers may not even know that you exist, let alone look for you on a crowded floor. But you can do your bit to boost the chances of being visible at the event.
Everything boils down to spreading the word about your business as a participant. You need to run an actionable marketing campaign to bring foot traffic to your booth. The best option is to leverage your social media following because it is cost-effective and offers extensive reach. You can display banners and hoardings outdoors and at your retail location to maximize your reach and pass the information to the target audience.
Have a follow-up plan
A follow-up plan is essential for trade show success, but most business owners overlook it. Startup owners are even more likely to miss out on it due to sheer lack of experience. Make sure you include follow-ups into your post-event strategy.
Connect with customers after the event to foster long-term relationships with them. Reach out to the visitors who shared their contact information just to be in touch. They may not buy right away, but they develop a connection with your brand with personalized attention. Since they recognize you, there is always a chance of getting them to buy eventually. They may even recommend you to people they know, extending your outreach in a budget.
Trade shows make an excellent marketing opportunity for startups as they enable a broad reach without costing a lot. But you have to make the right moves to create an impact in a crowded event space where you have to compete with big brands and other startups. The effort is worthwhile because you can build reach and recognition for your new business. Follow these simple tips, and you can win the trade show game without massive investment.