Trade shows are a proven way for small business owners to connect with prospects and turn them into customers. More than 80 percent of companies consider in-person events critical to their success, according to event technology firm Bizzabo.
To make the most of these events, you need to engage with attendees in a meaningful way and nudge them toward becoming a customer. Leave-behind materials — brochures, product sheets and promotional items — can help. These materials can build brand awareness, address prospects’ needs and communicate why you are a good fit.
Follow these guidelines to create powerful leave-behinds.
Learn About Attendees
The more you know about a show’s audience, the easier it will be to craft compelling leave-behinds. Find out as much as you can about who’s going. In addition to reviewing the event and exhibitor website and guide, download the event app if it’s available. It will usually provide a list of attendees. You can also use social media to monitor which attendees are talking about the event. What you learn can help you hone in on the most powerful images, messages and material formats.
For example, if you’re attending a health care trade show that attracts a large number of professionals who work with kids, think about the value your leave-behind materials should provide. Offer a list of helpful instructions for how attendees can use your product with young patients. Offer a brochure with tips for parents that prospects can share with their clients. The more value you provide, the more likely attendees will retain and remember your materials.
Think About Format
Are attendees interested in updating their skills? Create a flier to promote an upcoming training session. Do they need new equipment or software? Print product spec sheets and coupons.
Pull from a range of popular formats, including:
- Business cards
- Brochures and fliers
- Product sheets
- Product samples
- Event announcements
- Coupons and special offers
- Stickers and magnets
- Promotional items such as keychains, notepads and pens
Polish Your Brand Message
Include messaging on your materials that communicates how your company helps its customers.
To craft this messaging, focus on the benefits your business delivers, rather than simple descriptions of your products and services. Include a call to action that directs prospects to a next step, such as “Contact us to request a quote,” or even just your website URL. Don’t use large blocks of text — make it easy to scan with bullet points and bolding. For smaller leave-behinds, keep it concise by using only a few words that convey your message.
Think Like a Design Pro
The design of your leave-behinds is just as important as the message you put on them. Whether you’re designing these materials in-house or hiring an outside design service, use graphic elements and copy that attract prospects, reflect your brand and set a professional tone for your company.
Use these design guidelines:
- Include your logo and business name prominently on every piece.
- Clearly display your company’s phone number and website.
- Highlight important information with standout headlines and graphics.
- Choose colors that reflect and complement your brand.
- Use images that will resonate with your target audience.
- Keep layouts clutter-free and include ample white space.
Plan for Follow-Up
Once a trade show is over, your relationship with prospects has just begun. Follow up after the event to keep your company on prospects’ minds.
To continue the conversation, give prospects something they value. You can email or send these materials by mail, including:
- Special offers in the form of coupons, discounts or bundled products and services
- A complimentary gift card for scheduling a product demo
- Additional information about a product or service of interest
- Case studies that show how your company helped another business with a similar opportunity or challenge
- Testimonials from happy clients
- Pricing sheets
- A handwritten note on company letterhead
- Helpful tips, checklists, articles and infographics that demonstrate your understanding of your prospect’s industry or job function
Don’t be afraid to combine items to give your follow-up even more impact.
After your team wraps up its trade show efforts, make notes about what worked well and what could be improved. Were any of your leave-behinds a hit, or did you see materials from other companies that you’d like to emulate? Did attendees respond to one type of follow-up more than another? These insights can help you refine your efforts for continued event marketing success.