For a B2B food ingredient brand, marketing at trade shows can be a great way to connect with current/potential customers and media contacts. Yet many companies struggle to generate new business, because they aren’t clear about their goals. To fully leverage your time and resources, it’s important to have a well-defined strategy in place. By preparing in advance, you will be able to make better use of your time and resources during the event.
Aside from selecting the best food industry trade shows for your brand and business, there are several preparations to consider prior to attending or exhibiting. The following steps can help set you on the path toward success and optimize your trade show ROI.
- Plan ahead – Begin identifying all the things you need to do several months to a year before the trade show. Review talking points and set up mock discussions to make sure your team is well versed on your company’s brand, goals and key differentiators. Additionally, determine if there are any materials or information you need to submit prior to the show, such as your company bio, logo, presentation proposals, etc.
- Set specific goals – Prepare a list of key customer contacts you’d like to touch base with at the trade show and what you’d like to discuss with each person. Additionally, identify the target prospects you’d like to connect with prior to the show, so your team is on the same page when you arrive.
- Consider advertising/sponsorship – Trade show advertising and sponsorship are a great way to get your brand in front of key prospects and customers. Consider working with an advertising agency or marketing communications firm that has experience in trade show advertising/sponsorship design to save you valuable time and money. If the agency is familiar with the B2B food ingredient industry, even better! They can help you tailor your messaging in a way that helps differentiate your brand.
- Engage with trade media – Sending a press release or media pitch as well as scheduling interviews to share details about your company’s latest products, technology and resources can be a great way to get your brand in front of important media, customers and prospects. Once those interviews are scheduled, establish a spokesperson and equip him/her with talking points to ensure he/she delivers a message that is consistent with your brand.
- Position your team as experts – Speaking engagements can make your company appear more valuable to current/potential customers and media contacts. Prior to the show, consider submitting a proposal on a topic you have experience in or feel passionate about in order to position your team as thought leaders.
- Utilize integrated marketing – Engage with trade show attendees early on by reaching out to them via email or social media to promote your booth number or information you’ll be sharing at the show. If you are planning to offer samples, be sure to include a note about that as well, as it can help draw more attendees to your booth. To get your brand in front of as many prospects as possible, use trade show hashtags and handles when posting on social media, and retweet trade show posts that may be of interest to your followers.
- Schedule appointments – With hundreds of exhibitors and trade show attendees, it can be difficult to make time for everyone. To give everyone the time they deserve, consider inviting key prospects to visit your booth at specified times or scheduling a meeting offsite to grab coffee or a bite to eat.
- Design an eye-catching booth – Keep your booth design clean and simple, yet visually appealing with your company’s logo visible on top. Don’t put anything at the bottom of your booth that could potentially be covered by tables, booth staff or trade show attendees. If you don’t have the ability to design the signage in-house, consider partnering with a team that specializes in booth design to ensure you get the best value. For example, we helped our client Corbion design an attention-grabbing booth for the 2018 International Production and Processing Expo. The display, which looked like an old school meat counter, included thought-provoking questions and key benefits to working with Corbion’s meat/poultry experts. The messaging and designs helped differentiate the booth from others at the show.
- Brand your presence – Carefully plan out your materials and messaging, so everything aligns. Everything from your booth design to your team’s outfits should look consistent to reinforce your brand.
The right messaging and designs can help set your booth – and brand – apart from others in the industry, which in turn can help optimize your trade show ROI. Partnering with an advertising agency or marketing communications firm that specializes in food ingredient marketing can also help you leverage your time and investments. For more information about developing a clear integrated strategy for trade show marketing, please contact us.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks regarding what to do during and after a food industry trade show.