To many business-to-business (B2B) marketing professionals, trade shows are a necessary evil made up of 15-hour workdays, seemingly endless miles of walking, hand sanitizer, email hell and night after night away from their own beds. Many of these people don’t understand the huge return on investment (ROI) that can come from attending trade shows and how important it is to utilize public relations (PR) tactics during the event.

Truth be told, trade shows are one of the most effective ways to get your brands and your messages to your target audiences. Now, you’re probably wondering, “How am I going to rise above the trade show noise?” Well, like all things marketing-related, it starts with a sound strategy.

Step 1: Craft Your Message and Shout It from the Mountain Tops

One of the great things about PR is it’s relatively affordable when compared to other types of marketing, such as advertising, sponsorships and paid media — and is immensely effective. And if your company is already exhibiting at an upcoming trade show, it behooves you to maximize and amplify all you’re doing there.

But before you draft that news release or agree to be interviewed by a trade reporter, spend some time crafting your company’s “30-3-30” messaging; that is, what you want to say about your company and what it’s doing at the show in 30 seconds, three minutes and 30 minutes, depending on the opportunity. It’s crucial that you and your team are able to “sell” your company and its products/services, succinctly and consistently. This will serve you in your booth, as well as elevators, taxi cabs, on the record, at the bar, and/or dinner table and beyond.

Most shows worth their salt have trade show dailies, or publications that are available at the entrances of the show. They offer earned and paid media opportunities that let attendees know what’s going on to help them schedule their days. Why not place a story and/or buy an ad to have current or prospective clients add your company to their “to do” lists?

Most members of the media use trade shows as an easy way to connect with the lion’s share of industry leaders in one place. If your company is there and has news to share, then there’s no better time or place to share it. Get the media list from the event organizers, and set up one-on-one interviews with the media that tell your story to your industry. One more thing: make sure your message is on point and your spokespersons are media-trained to ensure the coverage is productive and positive.

Step 2: Jump on Every Possible Speaking Opportunity

Can your company’s senior leadership speak to compelling and timely topics in an informative, entertaining and memorable way? Can they hold an audience’s attention for an hour?

Trade show speakership attendees are hungry for answers and solutions to their problems. Can your spokesperson deliver the solutions they’re looking for, or are they just trying to sell something? The more valuable the information and the more interesting the speaker and the presentation, the better the overall experience for all involved.

If your company is exhibiting, oftentimes keynotes and speakerships are part of the price of admission and are well worth the effort. Where else can one draw an arena full of target audiences that are truly interested in what you have to say?

If a keynote is a bit of a stretch, then try getting a more intimate breakout session where company spokespersons can present to the very people who help keep the company’s lights on. Plus, it’s a great way to start the conversation with potential partners and continue to add credibility to your company, your message, your people and your products and/or services.

If a breakout session isn’t possible, apply to have a spokesperson take part in a panel discussion he or she is passionate and knowledgeable about. Oftentimes, this is free and once again provides a great medium to get the company’s message out there, far beyond the walls of your exhibit.

Step 3: Network, Network, Network

I can’t say enough about meeting with industry partners, media, etc. after the show shuts down each day. Oftentimes, the most meaningful relationships are built by breaking bread together after a long day on the trade show floor.

These relationships can help in myriad of ways, whether it be additional sales when the market is down, valuable feedback as to how to improve your business or even qualified employment recommendations. It’s hard to build meaningful relationships via email or over the phone; face to face is always your best bet.

Step 4: Measure Your Results

Oftentimes, after a long show, people want to take time off to relax, heal up and remind their families what they look like. Still, it’s imperative the folks who went to the show conduct a postmortem as soon as possible while the memory of the show is still top of mind.

Measure the quantity and quality of your traditional and social media coverage, as well as influencer speak if it makes sense to your industry. How many speakerships were your spokespersons involved in and to how many people? Did these help create qualified sales leads? Even if it didn’t, a positive experience with your industry will pay off sooner or later.

By measuring the results, your organization can tell if the experience was worth it, and whether or not you’d do it differently next year, if at all. Also, there is bound to be loads of takeaways and “to dos” for everyone to take action on, so don’t lose momentum. By utilizing many (if not all) of the above strategies and tactics, you’ll ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Related Articles:

How to Make Earned Media “Pay” for Your Business

Case Study: Amazon Business – Move to Elevation Ensures a Tactical Marketing Strategy is Married to Exceptional Event Execution


About the Author:

Jason Farrell – Public Relations Manager

Jason is responsible for managing and maximizing opportunities in public relations and media relations for clients. His knack for getting companies in the news—or keeping them out of the news—allows him to generate results that help businesses prosper and grow.