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Rena PattonJan 29, 2019 11:07:00 AM4 min read

How to Choose the Right Marketing Collateral for Your First Trade Show

"The times they are a changin'," and Bob Dylan's lyric is as relevant today as it was back then. The definition of marketing collateral continues to change over the years as marketing and sales teams evolve to better meet the consumer’s needs.

Once upon a time, collateral specifically referred to brochures and informational sheets used to support the hard-sell by (outdated) salesmen. Since the modern consumer is more resistant to the hard-sell than ever before, marketing collateral nowadays refers to a collection of media or advertisements used to support multi-faceted sales initiatives.

When it comes to trade show collateral, it can be easy to fall into the trap of cookie-cutter materials that are unoriginal and will most likely end up in the nearest trash receptacle. When choosing collateral for your first trade show, get creative and differentiate yourself from other exhibitors.

Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you stand out from the crowd. 

Go Green

Printing thousands of paper brochures wastes a lot of paper and most likely ends up in the trash before they’re even read. Instead, consider using a TV screen to play a slideshow with your company’s information. To compliment this, if any of your visitors request a copy of your brochure, have a digital copy ready that you can send them via email.

The benefits are twofold:

  1. This method allows you to collect contact information from visitors that are truly interested in your product (and not just whatever promotional items you might be giving away)

  2. You're also saving the planet! And as an added bonus, you won't have to pay for shipping and drayage costs for all those boxes of paper.

However, this doesn't mean you should forego printed materials altogether. It’s still a good idea to have professional sales packages or folders to hand out to your most qualified and interested visitors, as well as potential referral partners. If you plan on attending any round-table discussions, meetups, or bonus trade show events, have this collateral so you can hand it to other attendees.

Everyone Likes Free Stuff

Giveaways are a great way to generate buzz, increase traffic to your booth, and acquire leads. While this is no secret, how you go about strategizing your giveaway plan is what will really determine its success.

Things to consider may include:

  • Will you holding a single, big giveaway or multiple smaller giveaways?

  • What are the prizes and what will they cost?

  • How will you be announcing the winner?

  • How will you be collecting the entries?

  • What are the laws and restrictions when it comes to giveaways in the state location of the trade show? Does the trade show have any rules about giveaways by exhibitors?

If you decide to use a TV in place of paper brochures as mentioned above, you could even consider giving it away at the end of the trade show via a raffle; you can collect business cards and do a physical drawing, or have contestants enter information into your lead capture software and do a randomized digital drawing. You could also incorporate social media into your giveaway by allowing entrants to take a selfie in front of your booth and adding a hashtag. Get creative!

SWAG has a lot of different meanings and connotations, but in relation to trade shows it refers to "Stuff We All Get". This includes branded promotional items such as pens, notebooks or notepads, totes, or really anything you plan on giving away for free. These are a great means for attracting visitors, opening conversations, and increasing brand awareness, as its something that’s hopefully used beyond the show floor. The options are endless, but make sure your SWAG aligns with your company's mission and branding and are useful for the recipients.

Back to Basics

Banners and boards are still useful as traditional marketing collateral. However, it's highly probable that every other exhibitor will be using them as well. Instead of utilizing them as the primary visual focus at your booth, it might be wise to use them to fill empty space. Just be selective on placement and don't go overboard!

Trade show collateral can be positive or detrimental to your trade show experience depending on how you use it. Put yourself in your customer's shoes and try to think about what would be useful for them and would help keep your company top of mind. Now is the time to get creative! Just make sure your collateral looks and feels professional and is well-thought-out.

Looking for an exhibit house that can help build a booth to match your brand and be there for you on the journey to your first trade show? We got your back. Contact us today!