Get the Most Bang for Your Trade Show Marketing Bucks With Trigger Systems

February 5, 2019

Mike Schaffer

Mike Schaffer is the CEO of Echo-Factory, Inc. Throughout the course of his career, Mike has provided strategic oversight and executive leadership for companies looking to position their businesses for growth, acquisition or both. Mike is an ongoing contributor to CSQ Magazine, a regular speaker at marketing conventions and mentors start-ups with the USC incubator and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.

Another month, another trade show. Your company attends so many, they should have the process down to a science. And yet, it often feels like people are reinventing the wheel with each show. 

Unfortunately, you’re not alone – this is a very common story! But here’s the good news: This is exactly the type of situation where Trigger Systems can be super useful!

Trigger Systems, Explained

First things first: What’s a Trigger System? Don’t worry, you haven’t been living under a rock – Trigger Systems are something that we kinda made up. In its most basic form, a Trigger System is a communications and marketing plan that’s been thoroughly vetted and is ready to go before you need it. That means, whether you are preparing for a trade show you signed up for eight months ago or whether the company sprung this on you last week, you already have a plan in place and all you have to worry about is implementation.

Trigger Systems can be set up around any recurring or semi-recurring event, which is why trade shows are such a perfect application. Once the next show is in sight, a clear set of marketing and PR marching orders get “triggered” and your team has a clear roadmap for success.

It sounds pretty simple but the trick with Trigger Systems is that once they’re set up, the heavy lifting of what to do is already done, which means you get to focus all your energy on executing the plan so successfully that the boss takes notice.

Deciding What Your Trigger System Looks Like

Trigger Systems are super versatile and can vary widely based on what you’re communicating about. For trade shows, you can create one master Trigger System for all of your trade show activities, or you can bucket your trade shows by type and create a handful of Trigger Systems that are ready to implement, depending on what type of show the company is attending this month (if you really wanted to, you could create Trigger Systems for each specific show that you know you’ll be attending each year, but most of the associated activities are general enough that you shouldn’t need to get that nitty-gritty).

The Basics

Call it traditional marketing and PR, or “the boring stuff,” but it’s still around for a reason. The best place to start your communications plan is with press releases, email blasts, blog posts and social media posts – in other words, your “owned media.”

Low-Hanging Fruit

We’re calling this low-hanging fruit but that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest part to implement. If you want to get the word out about your company attending the upcoming trade show, the best place to advertise is on the website of the show, in the program of the show or in any associated trade publications that attendees subscribe to. If you don’t have to worry about getting this list together for each show, that will give you more time to put the creative effort into producing ads that will cut through the noise and actually resonate with your intended audience. These include print ads, website banner ads and social ads targeted at people in your industry.

On-the-Ground Support at the Trade Show

You can only reach so many people before the show, but once they’re at the event, you have many opportunities to turn their eyes and feet toward your booth. Create eye-catching banners, clever program ads, memorable collateral and giveaways, and a show-stopping booth to start the conversation for you!

With Trigger Systems, the difficult stuff is on the front end. Once they’re in place, the plan and the accountability are built in, and your marketing and sales teams are set up for success. Then, you can just sit back and wait for that congratulatory email from the boss!


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