Comic-Con Week 2009: Get Inspired for YOUR Big Event

Posted by on July 21, 2009 in Business News [ 1 Comment ]

It’s that time of year again- Comic-Con descends on Southern California this week for it’s 40th Anniversary Convention.  Why all the fuss about trade show displays?  For one, Comic-Con is fun- from sneak television and movie previews to presentations by award winning authors, the show doesn’t have the feel of your typical industry convention.  So in the spirit of Comic-Con week, here are a few tips to make the most of your big trade show event:

Plan ahead for sales. Are you planning to sell products or take orders at the show?  If you already have a merchant account, make sure you have a mobile credit card terminal, or if your display is equipped with a computer and monitor, an online payment mechanism that customers can use.  At the last minute, you can always download a credit card processing application to your iPhone to accept payments.

Prepare a press release. Create buzz before the event by announcing a new product, a new partnership, a new strategy…you can submit press releases to media sources directly or use a paid service like PR newswire to get the word out.

Send e-mail blasts. If you can get a list of registered attendees or industry professionals that will be attending the show, send an email a few weeks ahead of time about your exhibit.  A general flier is okay, but personalized emails with an attached flier are better- especially for bloggers (who might write about your business) or current customers (who you want to build a relationship with).  Keep e-mail marketing materials compelling by including a special offer or discount if a recipient visits your display booth.

Put social media tools to work. This one is pretty obvious: Twitter, Facebook, and your business blog are all free and easy ways to publicize your show appearance.

Use old-school tactics, too. Sure, e-mail blasts and social media are great for building brand awareness, but old-fashioned strategies like direct mail marketing still work wonders.  Make sure you send mailers out well in advance (at least 4 weeks before the event) especially if you plan to offer special deals or product samples at the show.  Mailers should encourage attendees to visit your booth to redeem a special offer, check out a new product, register for a discount offering, etc.

Re-think promotional materials. Don’t just pay someone to hand out fliers without carefully considering their content and message.  At a trade show, everyone is handing out promotional materials- your goal is to stand out among the crowd by encouraging interaction at your display and conversation with potential sales leads, customers, vendors, and industry taste-makers.  Make sure anything you’re distributing is worth the cost to produce.

Plan your display. Whether you’re attending a nationally prominent event like Comic-Con or a smaller, regional show, you’ll need an exhibit that stands out to visitors.  If you’ve never attended a trade show before, this can be tough- check out our Buyer Guide to trade show exhibits to start, and then work with vendors to prepare your exhibit based on your requirements.  Once you’ve got all equipment, do a “test run” putting up and taking down a pop-up display, or do a run-through with your exhibit staff before the show if you have a larger, more complex display.

Get visitor information. At the show, make sure you have a method for collecting contact information from exhibit visitors.  Then extend your marketing efforts beyond the show itself: take pictures at the show and post them on your website, send follow up emails- re-connecting is easy if you plan for it ahead of time.

The best exhibits are those that aren’t overly focused on selling, collecting lead information, or following a specific script or procedure.  Be welcoming- make your exhibit a fun place to hang out.  Some shows- especially those like Comic-Con- have a large audience that’s just there for fun.  Planning ahead for your show efforts will ensure that you’re able to relax and have a great time.

One thought on “Comic-Con Week 2009: Get Inspired for YOUR Big Event

  1. avatarAmanda Dean

    I totally agree with you on this post. I understand that sometimes there might be a need to order promotional products 5 days before the actual event. While production and delivery of the said promotional items are possible, I suggest avoiding this as much as possible. Planning ahead can save you a lot, and I’m not just talking about the rush charges. Planning ahead of time makes sure that your message will come across to your clients and would-be clients. After all, that’s what promotional items should do — promote your message.

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