Tips on how your marketing plan can help you succeed in exhibiting

To be successful exhibiting at a trade show one of the most important actions after deciding to exhibit is to prepare a Trade Show Marketing Plan. You need to know what you want to accomplish and how to achieve it. A marketing plan helps you establish the strategy and decide what actions are required for you to exhibit and how to communicate this to others. It helps you to target decisions and it keeps you on track.

What is a Trade Show Marketing Plan?

A Trade Show Marketing Plan is the end result of a process. It gives you a format to follow and allow you to be consistent. The Plan should include:

  • An analysis of the market environment
  • The development of the exhibition plan
  • Writing an executive summary

 Market Analysis

Marketing analysis forms the basis for creating the goals, strategies and tactics used to develop the plan. This consists of your understanding of:

  • The market environment
  • The customers
  • The competition
  • The company

Information for a market analysis can be found on the internet, in trade journals and company reports, through direct customer research, by speaking to internal managers and sales people within your company, and by compiling a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis report.

 Market Environment

  • Look at the market as a whole and seek to understand the dynamics that can impact the company and its products
  • Examine the company’s market share and get a statistical evaluation of the market

 Understand your Customers

You need to understand why customers buy your products or services so that you can create an environment that encourages the behaviour outcome you would like from the exhibition.

This can include:

  • Demographics – the statistical characteristics of your customers
  • Psychographics – understanding the lifestyle and personalities of your customers
  • Buying patterns and preferences
  • Environmental influences

 Competitive Analysis

Consideration should be given to your own company as well as its competition. Use a SWOT analysis, speak to the sales personnel of your company and use post-show evaluations.

In the competitive analysis include all the questions you need to have answered regarding the exhibition such as:

  • Current exhibition strategy and trend
  • Size of space occupied
  • Style and theme of exhibit
  • Graphic message
  • Staffing levels
  • Lead capture and follow up
  • Pre & post show promotions

You also need to examine competitive positions outside the trade show environment.

After collecting and understanding the market analysis you then need to set the strategy and decide how you will accomplish your goals.

The Trade Show Marketing Plan should include

  • Market analysis – include the key findings from your study
  • Marketing objectives for the trade show. You can link the trade show programme to wider corporate marketing objectives. These need to be measurable and can include:
    • Who will be attending
    • What is the purpose of the exhibition
    • When are the dates of the exhibition
    • Where is the location of the exhibition
    • Why – define the objectives and purpose for attending
  • Marketing strategies – how you are going to accomplish your goals
  • Action plans – what are the tactics you will undertake to carry out your strategies
  • Resources and timings – what do you need to carry out the plan in the timescale
  • Executive summary – summarise the above elements as a distillation of your plan so that you can communicate it to senior management

Once you have written the Trade Show Marketing Plan, check that it is in line with your other marketing mix plans. Ensure you refer back to the Plan to make sure that you are fulfilling your strategy, objectives and actions. The Plan can be used at the end of the exhibition to review your return on investment.

Reference: Jim Burch, How to Write a Trade Show Marketing Plan You Can Actually Use

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