Trade Show Strategies: Pre-Show Marketing

Are you exhibiting at trade shows this year? Boost your opportunities and sales with these marketing strategies that reach out in advance of the event.


Trade Show


Direct mail. Send invitations to your existing accounts and prospects, personally asking them to visit you at the show – and don’t forget your booth number. Include images of your work and any show specials you will be featuring. You may want to do a mailing that includes your line sheet and order form, to give buyers a preview and catch those who will not be coming to the show to secure orders from them as well. A planned campaign of several “touches” by direct mail can be even more effective: a postcard mailing, followed by one or two more contacts presenting your new work and a show invitation. Handwritten addresses work well on direct mail pieces, and tend to get opened more frequently.

Advertisements. Buy a print ad in trade magazines with your show schedule and booth numbers. Online advertisements on trade sites is another good option. You may want to consider running an ad in the show directory as attendees will have the opportunity to get another look at your line while they are attending the show itself.

Social Media. Use your Facebook page, Twitter or other social media platform to announce your show participation. It’s a good idea to follow galleries, retailers and other potential customers and interact with them on social media, so that you are likely to get followed back. This puts your trade show announcements in their stream. Include a link to your art website or blog, where you should also have information about being an exhibitor at the show.

Phone Calls. Do you expect your existing customers to be at the show? It is appropriate to call them personally to not only invite them to set up an appointment to visit your booth to see new work, but also encourage them to pre-schedule their orders. Even if these are simply dollar amounts and not itemized orders, it enables you to put them on your production calendar so their store will receive orders on desired dates and avoid disappointment.

Email. Use both email blasts to your subscribers and personalized emails to individual customers and prospects to share your work and your invitation to visit you at the show. Any incentives you may have, such as free shipping for orders placed at the show or other specials should be shared in these communications.

Press. Reach out to reporters and bloggers well ahead of time with news about your line and upcoming schedule. You will need compelling content, such as an exciting new collection of work, unusual techniques or other newsworthy information to get press notice. Share the press you receive on social media, in your newsletters, and also in your press kits – which you should be bringing with you to place in the trade show’s press room.


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