So your team has decided that a particular trade show or conference is right for you. But now you have to decide if you want to be more than an attendee or exhibitor. Should you take advantage of any sponsorship opportunities? And if you do, how can you best leverage those available to you? Let’s explore two key ways to maximize your trade show appearance.

1) Choosing the Right Sponsorships

As we always say, start with your goals. What are you trying to gain from this event? Your primary goal is likely lead generation, though awareness or specific product testing and launching are also popular reasons to exhibit at an event.

Whatever the case, go back to the event information and analyze who’s attending and who’s exhibiting. If a large percentage are decision-makers in your target audience, additional exposure may be a good idea. And if some of your top competitors are showing, this may be your chance to get ahead with exclusive sponsorships.

There are likely to be a few opportunities that specifically yield lead information as well as many more that promise prominent logo display. It’s tempting to go for the logo options as a) they tend to be cheaper and b) they seem to promise the most exposure.

But before signing the contract, ask yourself if the quality of that exposure will ladder up to your goals. How familiar is this audience with your logo? Do you have an option to add additional messaging?

If you’re just aiming to be more prominent than your competitor or show you support the association, it can be worthwhile to select several of these broader awareness opportunities.

However, logo prominence doesn’t necessarily guarantee booth traffic. Many attendees go to conferences already knowing exactly who they’re going to visit. Pre-conference sponsorships or advertising opportunities are often the best way to catch these pre-planners.

2) Maximizing Your Event Sponsorship

Once you’ve decided to sponsor, make sure you get all you can out of it. Update your digital marketing content calendar to include event promotion. Post on social with the conference’s hashtag and @ mention their accounts. More often than not, the show team will then share your post to their audience of attendees.

Emails to your database can include a note mentioning your booth number and subtly promote your sponsorships, depending on what they are.

You can also send an email specifically inviting any attendees to meet while they’re at the show. This could be personal emails from the sales team or a well-crafted email to your database (preferably the segment that is most likely to attend — maybe your leads from last year 😉).

If you’re demoing or launching a product at the show, consider inviting customers or potential customers to an exclusive focus group or launch event. A good public relations team can likely help you make this kind of event happen.

For event success in general, it’s also important to carefully consider if you’re sending the best team members to reach your goals. You may have someone who knows the product inside and out, but do they enjoy talking to people? Will they pursue conversation and networking opportunities? If not, consider training a more extroverted team member who you know will get you the most leads for your money.

Sponsorships can greatly help boost your presence at a trade show or conference when done right. Always look for opportunities that get you in front of potential leads, but only if you have the team capacity to really make it work.

TL;DR

  • List your goals and make sure the tactics you choose ladder up to those specific aims
  • Logo prominence doesn’t always equate to booth foot traffic
  • Promote the hell out of your appearance if you go: social media, email, PR
  • Create unique in-booth events for potential customers to attend
  • Make sure your attending team members enjoy networking and interacting with people

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