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Avoid Misleading with Pre-Show Marketing

Pre-show marketing is a great way to reach out to current and potential clients, but the misunderstandings which may occur as a result of your efforts can hurt more than they help. For example, here are four topics about which you might be unintentionally misleading your visitors through early promotional efforts:

1. Staff attending and special guests
Trade shows are the perfect place for networking with the top experts in your industry, so the announcement of which experts your company will be bringing is another great selling point that encourages attendees to visit your booth. However, if your announced show roster changes, attendees may become frustrated when they keep “missing” your VIPs, especially if specific meeting times had been scheduled weeks or months in advance.

2. Booth schedule
If you will be doing demonstrations or presentations in your booth, releasing your schedule in advance is a great way to help your contacts make time to visit when it is most convenient for you. However, any scheduling changes made after you have released your booth schedule to prospects, clients, and partners may mean that they are not only unable to come according to your schedule, but they may no longer be available to visit with you at all.

3. Special promotions/giveaways/etc.
A common reason for holding special promotions or offering unique giveaways while exhibiting is to attract additional attention to your exhibiting efforts and reward your valued guests for visiting you. However, if those guests are unable to enjoy what they were promised, they may be disappointed and (whether consciously or not) believe your company to be less trustworthy and reliable in all aspects.

4. Booth number
Although this change is not likely to be under your control, your guests may be lost and confused if your booth number is changed between when you invite your contacts to visit and when the show management finalizes the full floor plan. However, if this happens, all of your hard work in promoting your booth may actually send your contacts to your competition instead.

Should these potential miscommunications deter you
from promoting your trade show presence?

Absolutely not!

Instead, use these tips to maintain your reputation while remaining flexible:

  • Limit the information you release to promote anything that hasn’t been thought through yet. If you know you will be planning something (ie. giveaway, presentations, guest appearance, etc) but aren’t certain about the details, don’t feel obligated to share everything. Instead, offer enough information to pique your audience’s interest and then announce the rest of the “surprise” or “special” details when they are certain.
  • Mark any information that is likely to change with “tentative” or “TBD” and, if possible, also include the date when you are certain your details will be confirmed. If you are open and honest with attendees, they will be more understanding of modifications.
  • List your website or other contact information on promotional materials so that your visitors know where to find current information as your event dates approach and include a link to join your mailing list if you plan to send updates before, during, and/or after the event.
  • If changes happen suddenly, get in touch with important contacts who may be impacted. The effort you make to convey updates personally will stand out to and be appreciated by your valuable contacts.
  • Listen actively and apologize sincerely if a misunderstanding has affected any of your contacts in a negative way. Do your best to remedy the situation however possible and put additional measures in place to avoid such issues in the future.

Pre-show marketing is an excellent way to connect with your prospects, clients, and partners before a trade show to remind them of your presence and encourage them to visit with you in the convention city. However, if this process isn’t handled correctly, pre-show marketing can also damage your reputation. Follow the tips in this article to avoid these issues while expanding your reach as an exhibitor and, at the end of the day, you might just find that your audience is more understanding than you expected.

After growing up with self-employed parents, graduating with an Aerospace Engineering degree, and a short stint as a trade show "Booth Bunny," Robyn started When I Need Help (WINH) to show professionals a better way to maximize their exhibiting results. Need help with your next trade show? Contact Robyn.