Digital Tactics for Trade Show Marketing

October 23, 2018

John Foster

John Foster is the vice president of OOH Media Strategy for EMC Outdoor, a media placement and planning agency specializing exclusively in outdoor and out-of-home advertising. With five years of OOH experience working in the trade show world, John is ensconced in the intricacies of events and how they tick. 

The rule of seven is one of the founding concepts of marketing. The principle states that a message must be received at least seven times before it really sinks in and drives the recipient to take action.

In alignment with this rule, Out of Home advertising is designed to reach people in multiple, organic ways throughout their day. Similarly, trade shows implement the rule when delivering multiple messages to event audiences. When combining digital marketing tactics with Out of Home media for trade shows, the desired seven messages can be delivered in dynamic ways.

Successful trade show marketing overlays digital strategies that enhance media and create messaging repetition. Think of the trade show experience as three touchpoint periods: pre-, during and post-event. A properly integrated media plan will maximize physical media while interacting with people on a digital level to deliver key messaging during each of these periods.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

The lead-up to an event can often be the most exciting part. You have the chance to bring people together and generate excitement for the event. It’s when the seven opportunities to reach your audience begins. Marketers often forget this important point in the lifecycle of a trade show leaving to chance that people will organically discover their brand, booth, event or experience. Digital tactics can allow you to build recognition early, get your name in front of attendees and spread the word.

  • Email Campaign: Inform your target audience about an important event or booth information and familiarize them with your brand.
  • Preregistrations: Allow preregistration for games, raffles and other experiences to acquire lead information and build buzz.
  • Invitations and RSVPs: Digital invitations can help gain key demographic information from attendees.
  • Geofencing: Serve brand and product messaging to attendees before the event to increase impressions.

Strike While the Iron is Hot

During the event is the most critical point for serving up messaging because it holds the largest opportunity for advertisers. According to a 2016 survey from EventTrack, 72 percent of consumers say they positively view brands that provide great experiences. Brands can showcase themselves and interact with audiences that have self-identified as their target. With this unique opportunity to deliver brand message, give them an unforgettable experience.

  • Social Media: Activate attendees on social media to share content, hashtags, photos, video, etc.
  • Data Capture: A trade show presence means nothing if you can’t prove its ROI. Use street teams with iPads to engage and capture attendee demographic information.
  • Raffles and Giveaways: Create digital game experiences that make people want to participate with your brand.
  • IEET (Integrated Experiential Exhibit Technology): Enhance the attendee experience on the trade show floor and in your booth with VR/AR technology (What is IEET?).

The End is Just the Beginning

Don’t let your competitor have the last word. Check in with your audience after the show to keep the conversation going. Remind them how great their experience was at the event and provide shareable content they can send to someone who missed the show. Use the attendee data and information collected during the event to drive awareness and continue the buzz around your brand.

  • Shareable Content: Create slideshows and sizzle reels from event content.
  • Proof of Performance: Create a POP or case study from your event performance that includes ROI and impression data.
  • Follow Up: Continue your relationship with attendees who provided contact information by giving updates on Experiential activations or contest winners.
  • Promote Extended Engagement: Provide links to webinars, future events, relevant products and opportunities to further engage with your brand.

Typical trade show marketing solutions only target attendees before, during or after the event. Strategic integration of digital methods allows trade show marketers to employ the best messaging and platform methods for reaching an audience. It enables the rule of seven, which expands the window for and types of engagement. This gives attendees a deeper understanding of a brand and makes the messaging and call-to-action more effective.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.