Trade show success depends on a multitude of things: how many visitors come to your booth, obtaining leads, and ultimately, new sales and (hopefully lifelong) customers. But your trade show success is not only about what happens at the event itself – you can’t just set up your exhibit and hope for the best! Here’s how to develop an effective pre-trade-show email campaign that targets potential trade show attendees and encourages them to visit your exhibit at the event.

Set campaign goals

Before you sit down to write your emails, you need to define your goals for the trade show. What do you hope to get out of the show? Some common goals are:

  • Generating new leads
  • Making sales
  • Launching a new product
  • Building brand visibility

Whatever it is, the emails you send should include a mention of something that pertains to the goal and readers should care about meeting you at the show to find out more.

Define your target audience

For pre-show marketing you’ll have two separate audience groups to focus on:

  1. The list of contacts you already have, including:
    1. Current clients and customers
    2. Potential customers
    3. Visitors from previous shows
  2. Registered trade show attendees:
    1. Some trade show organizers provide email lists of attendees to exhibitors free of charge, while others make the information available upon request for a fee.
    2. Sending unsolicited emails can be risky. You’re likely to get a higher bounce rate, and you don’t want your company to come off as spammy. If you choose to email trade show attendees, especially if they’re people you’ve never contacted before, put some thought into how you’ll address them. For instance, you’ll want to speak about the show, not be sales-y.

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Develop an email timeline

The ideal pre-trade-show email campaign is one that sends out just the right number of emails to everyone on the list. Too many, and your recipients end up with information overload and might even opt out of your emails altogether; too few, and your pre-show campaign may get lost in your busy customers’ inboxes. Finding the right balance is key!

Plan for incentives – and sales!

One of the keys to success with any email campaign is to offer value. It’s not enough to write a salesy email full of cheerful promotional messages. Your sales pitch is always more valuable when you offer an incentive that people will want to take advantage of.

With pre-trade-show emails, you may need to be a bit more creative because you want to provide people with a reason to visit your exhibit on the day. This is especially true if you’re reaching out to an attendee list of people who may never have heard of you. Ideally, you’ll offer a prize of some kind, with eligibility open to people who visit your booth, or perhaps only to people who book an appointment, if the item is particularly high-value.

Then there’s the event swag—the freebies that can either be one of the best or one of the worst aspects of trade show attendance. Don’t be the booth that hands out branded pens and keychains. Choose unique and useful items, like mobile chargers or reusable water bottles, and fun snacks or drinks. It’s always easy to spot a company that puts thought into the items it hands out at shows, and word of mouth can help get more people to your exhibit.

Write the emails

You know your goals, who your audience is, and when you’ll send the emails. It’s time to write them! Simply saying: “Hey! I have these cool things coming up. I thought you’d want to know!” and describing your booth, the trade show itself, and why you’re there is a great way to let people know.

Happy email writing! For more trade show tips and tricks, visit our other blogs or check out our services page.