Let’s Talk About Pre-Show Marketing: Email (Part One)


Virtually every piece of face-to-face marketing wisdom contains the admonishment: You must get on the attendee’s must-see agenda. An abundance of “musts” in that statement, enough that you may well ask, “Why?” On a show floor crowded with exhibitors and attendees who have less and less time to visit exhibits, you can’t hope that you will attract the visitors you want to see just because they happen to walk by your space. “Random” is not a workable solution.

Trade shows are about time and money

Trade show attendance has become a serious decision. No longer a get-out-of-town boondoggle, trade shows attract attendees looking for information, solutions, new products, and quite possibly new vendors. Taking time from day-to-day responsibilities demands a good reason, one that equates value with attending a trade show. And with the amount of money that it takes for your company to attend even a smallish regional show, can you seriously afford to leave connecting with important targets up to chance and “Gee, I hope the buyer from the big box store comes by”?

Pre-show marketing must respond to new corporate realities

The pre-show agenda advice has been around for decades, certainly longer than the wide-spread use of electronic communication tools. Once upon a time, print mailings were an important vehicle for helping attendees plan their journeys around the show floor. Companies competed to make their mailings not only attractive but distinctive. Yes, they used postcards, but they also sent three-dimensional mailings, items their A-list targets would appreciate as an incentive to visit the exhibit and spend some quality time. Mind you: those were the days when everyone worked in an office and shared a single corporate address. The disappearance of 100% office-based workers, among other factors, killed that practice. Also, as shows and meetings grew larger and larger, and the focus shifted to mega-customers rather than mom-and-pops, the barrage of mailings became close to impossible to manage.

Email. Seriously.

So how do you reach attendees before they leave for the show, or as our VP Creative, Stephen Ross puts it, how do you influence their journey from curb to carpet? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) consistently points to the staying power of email as an effective marketing vehicle for exhibitors. Multiple studies show that in the b-to-b world, email is the preferred method for receiving communication from a business. One study indicates 72% of respondents prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. You can research this for yourself.

How do you get your target market to open your email?

At this point, you are saying, “I never read all the promotional emails I get.” That is very possibly the case. And why don’t you read them? There are many reasons, and in our next post, we’ll explore what those are and how you can fix them. In the meantime, start paying attention to the emails you open and the ones you delete. What is your motivation? Heighten your awareness and learn what works for you. Remember: you are someone’s target customer!

Your trade show marketing plan has to reflect contemporary best practices, not those of the 90s. Download our free workbook, Creative Bravery for Your Face-to-Face Marketing Program. Are you a healthcare marketer? We have a special workbook for you that takes into account the challenges you face. Download Creative Bravery: Face-to-Face Marketing Strategies for the Healthcare Industry.

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