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Trade Show Contests: A Great Tool in Trade Show Marketing

Christine O'Kelly
Jun 13, 2008
Trade show contests should play a huge role in trade show marketing; after all, it will drive visitors directly to your trade show exhibit. An effective trade show contest produces brand recognition and adds to the visibility of your company at a trade show. It is vital to plan your trade show contest well to ensure it brings about success from your trade show marketing efforts.

Consider a Theme for Your Trade Show Contest

The first step in your trade show marketing is to decide on a theme for your trade show contest. Select a theme that fits in with your company's products and services. For instance, if your company makes power tools, a water park theme is not as enticing to targeted do-it-yourselfers as a home renovation and construction theme. You should include your theme in all of your trade show marketing and in your booth decor, so select your trade show contest theme wisely.

Select Your Prizes

As with your trade show contest theme, the prizes you give away should be a good representation of your products and services. For example, a great prize for the power tool manufacturer may be a selection of power tools or a home improvement store gift certificate.

Money is often the trade show contest prize that will bring attendees running to your booth. Cash cube money machines that swirl money around for people to catch is always a fun draw for any business. Massages, spa gift certificates, and vacations can usually be made to fit nicely into trade show marketing themes.

Make Sure Your Contest Does Not Break Any Rules

You may have an incredible contest idea, but if it violates the rules of the trade show, your incredible idea will not fly. It is essential that you understand the rules of the trade show and double check with the staff before advertising your trade show contest in your trade show marketing. If you fail to do this, you could end up with a worthless contest and a show full of angry attendees who came especially for you.

Hire Enough Staff Members

You should have one person in your staff that does nothing but manage the running of the trade show contest. You do not want people visiting your booth with the purpose of participating in your contest, just to turn away because everyone is busy and no one is responsible for the contest. By having one person dedicated to managing the contest, you have the chance for that person to talk about your products and services with a person who may have only come for the contest. Do not just put out slips of paper and a drop box. You do not want to lose the valuable conversations with potential customers because you were understaffed.

Market Your Trade Show Contest

Make the effort to market your trade show contest before the show so that people know about it and can arrange to come by your booth. Add information about your trade show contest on your company website and send trade show marketing materials to customers containing the same information. Sending out personal invitations to participate in your trade show contest also usually produces nice results.

Continue marketing your trade show contest at the trade show and even at locations near the trade show. Place flyers about your trade show contest at the airport, hotels, outside the venue, and anywhere else you think possible attendees may be lurking. Make sure you clearly provide directions and list your booth number in your trade show marketing materials so attendees can easily find you.

Trade show contests are a fun and efficient tool in trade show marketing. A well-planned trade show contest will always draw new contacts and potential customers.
About the Author
Christine OKelly is an author for trade show marketing consultant Jonathan Edelman. Jonathan is the founder of Ideas 4 Now, a trade show marketing company offering promotional products such as video game attractions that drive traffic to trade show booths. Edelman is also the founder of the trade show vendors directory Trade Show Vendors.com.
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