Trade shows this year look a little different than they have in the past. While it’s difficult to abandon the status quo, flexibility and preparation are the keys to an effective updated trade show marketing strategy.

Here are our six tips to prepare for a trade show in 2021:


1. Quality (not quantity) when it comes to attendees

Register for trade shows that create the greatest opportunity to reach your customer base.

This will take some research. Not only are larger trade shows beginning to branch into smaller, hyper-focused events to accommodate occupancy limits and social distancing, but new trade shows are also springing up to fill gaps in trade show marketing left by postponed and canceled expos.

You’ll need to keep your ear to the ground for new micro-show opportunities, AND maintain an excellent understanding of what your target audience looks like. These skills will help you identify opportunities to cut through the fluff and find shows with a high concentration of qualified prospects.


2. Get granular with your trade show budget

As you develop your trade show marketing budget, carefully note each individual cost rather than lumping expenses together. For example, instead of “shipping,” itemize the costs of shipping each container or item.

This will help you decide which expenses are absolutely necessary and which ones can be trimmed if needed. You can safely bet on smaller crowds at upcoming trade shows, which means you may need to pare down your expenses in order to maintain your preferred trade show ROI.


3. Embrace what makes your brand stand out

Your unique selling points and one-of-a-kind brand voice have never been more important to your trade show strategy.

As social distancing and hygiene requirements have put a damper on many go-to activities — like crowd-attracting games and well-attended presentations — exhibitors will need to rely on other tactics to stand out from the crowd.

Create marketing strategies around your booth that create attention and buzz, and tell your audience exactly who you are and what makes you different.


4. Bring in backup

Picture yourself right now...but instead of reading this blog post to figure out how the heck you’ll boost your trade show ROI this year, you are simply going to let your exhibit house take care of it.

Doesn’t that sound like a huge relief? An experienced exhibit house is beyond prepared to think outside the box...err, conceptualize, fabricate, and deliver a memorable, customized exhibit.

A killer booth grabs attention from your audience and gives your sales people the tools they need to gather leads. Consider leaving this key component of ROI to the experts.


5. Double up on digital marketing

With fewer potential prospects wandering the aisles of trade shows this year, it’s wise to devote extra energy to reaching your target audience in other touch points before and after the event.

Video is particularly effective for branding, giving you a chance to appeal to your audience’s emotions without being right in front of them. Run a strategic video marketing campaign that targets potential show-goers in the weeks leading up to the event, and utilize your leads list to retarget visitors once the event has ended.


6. Keep your staff up to speed

Your salespeople have some hurdles ahead as they attempt to form connections from 6-foot distances and through protective plastic panels. Arrange your booth so that your salespeople can see, hear, and communicate effectively with prospective customers.

Before opening day, ensure that your booth staff is aware of booth functionalities so that they can use the space safely and effectively as they greet and engage with attendees.

Are you ready for this new season of trade show marketing? We sure are! If you need some inspiration or guidance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the booth gurus at Exhibit Options. We’re happy to help!

Tags: Trade Shows