I’m a big believer in trade shows. In my company, we spend the bulk of our marketing dollars exhibiting at trade shows and conferences. So I was delighted when Staples asked me to help Donna Fulmer of Orion Global Solutions prepare to exhibit at the upcoming Smart Hustle Small Business Conference in New York City.
Donna received $500 worth of trade show printing and marketing materials from Staples Print & Marketing Services, to help make her booth and her company stand out. She wanted help figuring out what kinds of marketing materials were critical for a trade show and would provide the biggest bang for the buck.
Orion is a relatively new company. Based in New York City, it helps companies integrate and customize Salesforce, the CRM (customer relationship management) program.
First, I advised Donna to step up Orion’s trade show marketing program. Orion currently exhibits at only one or two trade shows. They should significantly increase that number, targeting industry shows in the verticals Orion serves, such as health care and financial services.
Why? Because trade shows give small businesses a really big bang for a marketing buck.
Here’s what trade shows offer small businesses:
- A highly targeted, concentrated audience. Choose the right trade show or industry conference, and a large number of attendees will be decision makers in your target market. For instance, if Orion chose to exhibit at banking or credit union annual conferences, they’d find a whole lot of potential clients in one place at one time.
- Motivated buyers. People walking around a trade show exhibit floor are eager to find solutions and are receptive to hearing about your company’s offerings. Orion has a unique offering that many prospects don’t even know exist but would benefit from.
- A chance to get your message delivered. Whether someone picks up a brochure at your booth or gets your catalog in their trade show bag, there’s a high probability they’ll actually read—and often keep—your printed materials.
- Connections. You’ll meet vendors, referral sources, and potential partners that can help you build your own company.
But you typically have to pay to exhibit at a trade show, and you may incur travel costs as well. So you want to make sure you’re making the biggest impact possible.
What were the marketing materials I recommended Donna order from Staples to get Orion Global Solutions noticed and help land new clients?
- Table cover with their logo. Most trade shows provide exhibitors with one six-foot or eight-foot table. You want attendees to see your name and logo even if they don’t come to your booth. Print your company name and logo prominently on the front of the table cover so it can be seen across a room.
- Banner and Banner stand. A banner standing next to your table increases your sense of presence and can highlight a specific product, service, or message. Banners are inexpensive enough so you can customize the message for the specific trade show or industry you’re targeting and really spark prospects’ interest.
- Brochures. You absolutely need some printed materials that better explain your company, product, and services. These should be nicely designed and can be a standard tri-fold or a two-sided glossy sheet.
- Business cards. Of course, you need plenty of these. Take 250–500 cards with you, depending on the size of the show, and hand them out generously. Don’t forget them!
In addition to the printed materials that are a must—a brochure and business cards—there are a few other printed trade show materials to consider using:
- Postcard. If the show provides you with a list of attendees in advance of the show, consider mailing postcards out a week or two before to get the word out. About 75 percent of show attendees plan booth visits before a show starts: you want to be part of their plans. Give them a reason to visit your booth—special show pricing, a new product, a free gift—and be sure to include your booth number.
- Single-sheet handout. This can contain information about a special offer, product or service information, or a show discount you’re promoting. Give these out to anyone who wants one and every time someone expresses interest in your company or products. Leave a pile of them on a table for people to pick up.
- Catalog. These provide details on your entire product line. They’re usually four-color, glossy publications. Give these to key leads and prospects at the show. Don’t worry if you hand out 500 catalogs and only 50 people actually read them. Those 50 people may become your best customers.
- Price list. This lists current prices for your products or services. Using stand-alone price sheets saves you the expense of printing updated catalogs for every event. Tuck these into your catalogs.
The next thing to think about is promotional products and “swag”—or small imprinted giveaways to hand out at your booth. People love getting something free! Swag both attracts people to your booth and acts as an ad or reminder of your company name once someone gets home. And here’s a bonus: most people who stop to get something free feel they need to listen to you. That’s when you can give them your pitch for your company. Choose swag that won’t get left behind. Popular giveaways include branded pens, Post-it Notes, hand sanitizer, water bottles, cloth shopping bags, and on-the-go chargers.
Staples can print all of your custom marketing materials. Go here to get started. And for specifics:
Staples offers many different table covers, including this 6-foot economy cover, which is a good choice: https://design.staples.com/promoproducts/19775
You can also order banners from Staples: https://design.staples.com/banners. Do this as soon as possible. It’s money well spent.
Check out Staples’ promotional products picks here: https://design.staples.com/promotional-products
Sponsored by @Staples but all opinions are my own.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2017