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Use Trade Show Contests in Pre-Trade Show Marketing

Christine O'Kelly
Jun 14, 2008
Most businesses can benefit from trade show marketing. Trade shows offer the chance for businesses to expand their new customer base while motivating existing customers to buy. Trade show exhibitors often think customers will come if they exhibit at a trade show. The truth is that the largest and most remarkable booth amounts to zilch if customers do not even know the exhibit is happening, where it is, or the purpose for the exhibit.

The big secret to success at a trade show is smart pre-trade show marketing. A productive method for making sure the content of pre-trade show marketing is retained and acted on by customers is to hold a trade show contest. The problem with this is that not all trade show contests are the same and they do not all get the same response. By following a few simple ideas, you can ensure your pre-trade show marketing and trade show contest provides your business with a profitable trade show experience.

Hold a Relevant Trade Show Contest

To maximize the success of your contest, make sure it is relevant to the product or service associated with your business. For instance, a good contest prize for a travel agent is a Caribbean cruise. By keeping your contest relevant to your product or service, you unconsciously strengthen your business to customers and make your contest more productive.

You also draw a target audience by making your trade show contest relevant to your product or service. People are drawn to prizes they desire. By luring them with something they desire, you have found a great way to connect with your target consumers.

Create Excitement with Pre-Trade Show Marketing

Use pre-trade show marketing to generate anticipation and curiosity prior to exhibiting at a trade show. For the greatest response to your contest, include enticing information on all pre-trade show marketing materials, such as press releases, direct mailers, e-mail newsletters, and on your website.

Trade show experts agree that the most successful trade show contests employ a two part pre-trade show marketing campaign. This type of campaign involves sending contest participant entries to customers before the trade show begins and having entry forms available at the booth during the actual trade show. This ensures that customers must show up in person at your booth to be able to participate in your trade show contest.

Promote Your Contest at the Trade Show

All of your pre-trade show marketing efforts should be supplemented by contest promotion during the trade show. Use posters, flyers, and word of mouth to let all trade show attendees know about your contest.

This also assures the customers who received your pre-trade show marketing materials that your contest is still planned. It will also bring new customers interested in your contest (and obviously in your products and services) to your booth.

Always Follow Through With the Contest

You must always follow through with completing the contest you advertised in your pre-trade show marketing. Hold your contest under the rules and times you stated with the prize promised. Never break your promise or disappoint any potential customer. Disappointed customers will take their business elsewhere.

After following through with your contest, do not be shy about "selling" to your new qualified customer. Remember, the contest is fun, but the real name of the game is sales.
About the Author
Christine OKelly is a writer for trade show marketing consultant Jonathan Edelman who is the founder of the trade show marketing company Ideas 4 Now that offers promotional trade show booth products and search engine submission services, and founder of a trade show vendors directory and Promotion Store.com that offers discount custom imprinted logo items.
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