Making the most of trade shows: If you invite, they will come…

Working for clients is a round the clock service industry. International clients in B2B can be launching new products and exhibiting at trade shows internationally year-round, and our teams support them in China, North America and Europe in many languages.

As we all know, trade shows are not a low-cost venture. It makes sense to invest wisely because, by the time you have booked space, built and shipped a booth and taken your sales team off the road and flown them all to a hall somewhere for 3-5 days, the need to see a return on investment mounts up.

Some organisations focus so much on creating a wonderful booth, but fail to commit as much time, effort and budget to ensuring they get visibility and column inches at the show. A key part of good trade show planning is pre-show outreach to key media to ensure you get optimum chance to get your voice heard.

So why are companies so surprised when their competitor has good relationships with journalists and a big share of the column inches and they don’t? It is because they assume the journalist has to do all the work. Life is a two-way relationship and at trade shows, this is especially the case. You put the work in, and it pays off. You expect it to come to you, and you will find it has gone somewhere else!

We have always found that the companies who really put the effort in at trade shows do reap the returns. So being organised and planning your trade show marketing and trade show media support ahead is important.

Our top tips:

 1) Be consistent: Look like your brand. Behave like your brand. Be on duty ahead, and working 24-7 when you are there since your customers and media are in town and captive. If you are inviting key customers out for dinner, don’t forget to consider an evening dedicated to key media too.

 2) Determine what you want: If you want to be highly visible for brand building, you have to plan to be. If you want to generate leads or build relationships with existing customers, you have to decide how, and train your teams to support you.

 3) Make the most of what you have: If you are investing, do everything that is in your arsenal to support your activity: be it pre-show, at-show, post-show. Don’t forget to use your networks, your sales teams, your contacts, your PR agency. Remember the trade show has its channels you can use to broadcast your content (social, self-publishing etc).

 4) Be proactive: Do not assume that because you are there, people will come to you. You have to tell them what you are doing – and do something different to really stand out. You have to invite them to meet you. You have to tell them why. Do this directly. Do this via media. Do this via social media. Do this via your sales teams. Do this! Do not assume that without an invitation, people will find you. They will not, they will be too busy.

As Pittcon 2017 is coming up, we will be there providing media support for a number of clients, as usual. We’ll be managing media meetings for clients, and that means that most of our clients will be booked in back-to-back meetings, every hour from Monday – Wednesday. This is great for companies who want to make the most of their attendance with strong at- and post-show exposure. While you are there, you can talk about your company, secure your media placements, and meet your customers, and keep yourself busy (to avoid the horror of empty time on booth!) from morning until evening.

We acknowledge that sometimes customers need to be prioritised over media. We are there to handle meetings for clients if no one is available, but we know that the media much prefer speaking directly to clients and it’s really worth the effort to make the time if you can.

The shortest time from brief-to-support-a-client-to delivery-at-Pittcon was the same day for us – yes, seriously, we once received sign-off on the Monday morning for booth meetings support to be booked with journalists. It shows that planning can also run to last minute decision-making! Thankfully, if you know what you are doing and have strong relationships with the media, you can mobilise a team anywhere in the world and it will work. So while this is not best practice, if you have not yet booked your time with your media meetings at Pittcon, give us a shout (! We’re always here to help.

At last year’s event, we supported two clients, helping to arrange booth meetings with media and video interviews for both. We arranged meetings for the clients with well-respected industry media experts, including analysts and reporters from print and online publications who also filmed segments with representatives about their companies.

On behalf of one client, we organised and hosted a media dinner. With 6 media attendees from 4 countries; the UK, USA, Germany and Norway, this was a success for the client to build relationships, impart their key messages and we were able to commission articles with many of the reporters for delivery after the trade show.

In my next post, I’ll talk about how we have helped clients at key shows in China, where having local media support is critical, as our successes have proven.

Interested in hearing more about how we could support you at an upcoming trade show? Give us a call on +44 (0) 1477 539 539 or email

Kath Darlington, CEO, The Scott Partnership.

Tags: b2b, Tags: marketing, Tags: Media relations, Tags: PR, Tags: trade press, Tags: trade shows, Tags: blog