For small businesses, trade shows are beneficial since they provide an opportunity to reach potential customers,investors and journalists over a very short time. However, the limited resources of most small businesses mean you have to extract the most from each appearance. Want to know the secrets to making the contacts you want? Susan McPherson, vice president of global trade show services at PR Newswire, shares her tips for leveraging your participation in a trade show.
What tools and resources should a small business use to plan for a trade show?
Trade shows begin booking exhibitors at least six months in advance. An important step is finding out if the trade show management offers any tools to help exhibitors reap the full benefits. These may include media lists, a website for posting exhibitors’ news, and special packages and pricing with service providers. These benefits can help a business with limited resources.
Also, ask the trade show management about their PR plans. For example, if they’re issuing a news release about the event,ask if your company can be listed as an exhibitor; or offer your participation as a case study for their marketing materials. If you’re launching a new product or service, target the daily show publication, both online and in print. Also, consult the editorial calendars of industry trade publications. Keep in mind that most magazines have long leaddeadlines, so make contact early.
Lastly, if you’re launching a trade show-specific website, give it relevant content at least three weeks in advance. Ensure it’s updated while you’re on the road. Use your special event URL in all show-related correspondence and include a link to it from your main website. A well-managed site can convert leads to customers.
What’s the best way to manage a product launch at a show??
There are a few simple steps:
- Plan ahead. Develop a calendar of tasks to complete prior to the launch at least a month in advance. Account for drafting and finalising the launch release and marketing materials,producing graphics or product photos, securing customer testimonials and performing media outreach. Then, align these activities to the time-frame of the trade show. Some tasks may need to be adjusted based on trade show rules and deadlines.?
- If media coverage of your launch is a priority, preview your product for select journalists ahead of the event.
- A well-orchestrated product announcement is key to generating publicity. Check with event organisers if there’s an official news wire sponsor and if there are any rules for issuing news at the event.
- Create a standalone website or product page that can be updated quickly and easily. Populate the site with information and a link to encourage further communication.
- Get the right people staffing your booth. Product managers are essential if you are demonstrating a new service.
How should a company structure its product launch announcement if it’s being made at a show?
The only major difference between a trade show-based announcement and a standard release will be the dateline. The lead paragraph should indicate that the launch is taking place at the event.
What’s the best way to secure media interviews?
Again, plan ahead. Use the media list given by show management, and send out e-mails to reporters who’ll be attending. Or,make your own list. Initiate contact at least two weeks before the show and offer a unique angle to distinguish your company from others.
Also look to be either a keynote speaker ora participant in a panel discussion. This takes extensive planning and creativity, so start early and identify several themes you’re comfortable discussing. Don’t focus solely on topics related to your business. The most enticing speakers are those who can branch out beyond standard subjects.
What marketing materials should be on hand?
Minimal ones. No journalist wants to carry reams of paper, and with growing concern for the environment, no one likes to see waste. You should include these materials on your trade show website for easy download by journalists when the show is over.