1. Sponsor events that target your audience.
Look for events that you know have valuable attendees. Many shows publish their attendee breakdown so you, as an exhibitor or sponsor, know what type of prospects are walking the floor.
If the information you’re looking for is not immediately available, email or call the event owners to see if they can share that information with you. Don’t sponsor blindly.
2. Poll your customers.
One of the best ways to find out where your target audience will be attending is to ask your ideal prospects, that is, your current customers. Often times, an informal poll of your customers during everyday interactions will reveal a wealth information. You just need to ask.
For a more formal approach, ask which events your customers are attending via email and phone surveys. Or poll repeat visitors to your website via popup or banner. Pretty soon you’ll develop a complete picture of where you need to be.
3. Look for strong media exposure.
Sponsor events held around the time you release new products or technology. Or better yet, plan announcements around shows or events that you know have a strong, multi-channel media presence. If you’re sponsoring a show, who do you think will receive top billing in the show’s communications?
4. Think about geography.
Select shows relevant to both your product and your service area. Sponsoring an event where you posses a secure foothold is a great way to strengthen existing relationships and further brand awareness.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to expand into new markets, look for shows in regions where market penetration is low (data can help you determine your geographic market share). Trade shows continue to be successful because, by design, they concentrate prospective buyers into a steady stream past your brand. Take the opportunity to make a big splash in front of potential future customers.
5. Look for opportunities that enable prospect interaction.
Not all sponsorship opportunities and events are equal. Look for the shows that facilitate direct interaction with qualified prospects. For example, does your sponsorship option merely splash your logo around the show or does it put you face-to-face with key decision-makers? Sometimes quality is preferable over quantity.
The final word.
The common thread here is: do your research. Make sure the events you sponsor provide the level of exposure you expect. And it’s not simply enough to just show up. Once you’re there, go big to give your brand the attention it deserves. Trade shows are like no other marketing channel in that they enable direct interactions with qualified prospects and lots of them. So take full advantage of these unique, and infrequent, opportunities.