Five Ways to Jump-Start Your Trade Show Program

As we begin returning to live events, many organizations are navigating challenges stemming from the pandemic, such as reduced revenue, event budgets, and staff. What’s more, continued health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 could result in fewer event attendees and sponsors.

If you host or participate in events, trade shows, or conferences, now is the time to plan how you’ll safely meet with your key audiences—face-to-face or with virtual or hybrid strategies—and how you’ll successfully gain their interest and motivate them to take action.

Here are five ways to reignite your event or trade show program:

1. Re-evaluate your trade show/event list.

Prioritize and budget for which trade shows, events, and conferences you’ll attend in the coming year. Instead of registering for the 10 conferences you usually attend, carefully consider the pros and cons of each. Maybe it makes sense to attend just a few that have proven to be beneficial in order to spend less on registration fees and travel/accommodations.

Deliverables shown include calendar, planning, tracking, and showsync
Novak Birch researches and identifies in-person and virtual events that support the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services‘ (CMS’) mission and align with their current campaigns. The result? CMS is able to attend 10% more conferences each year for the same budget, which increases their exposure and outreach.

2. Embrace new engagement strategies to better reach your attendees—virtually and in person.

Try new strategies to hybridize your visitor experience and reach more people. Consider touchless and digital activations offering immersive experiences that encourage both in-person and virtual visitors to actively participate. For instance:

  • Use a giant screen displaying an interactive trivia app that encourages visitors to participate, then invites them to find out more by booking a meeting or purchasing a product or service.
  • Display a live social media feed that entices in-person and virtual visitors to join the conversation or participate in a social media contest.
  • Offer valuable content that visitors can view and download through a QR code, then capture their data for follow-up or invite them to contact you to schedule a meeting.

The more engaging the experience, the more likely they’ll remember your brand.

Trade Show Interactivity
Each year, we create an interactive booth for Brand USA‘s exhibit space at IPW, giving attendees an immersive and memorable experience with space for networking, conducting business, and having fun. The engaging space showcases Brand USA as a leader in destination marketing and positions the USA as a dynamic travel destination to travel professionals, buyers, and influencers around the globe.

3. Repurpose and refocus your high-value content.

Repurpose your content to connect with all stakeholder groups in today’s always-evolving market. Identify your best-performing content and use it across a variety of platforms to ensure that it reaches your audiences when and where they will be most receptive to it, no matter which medium they prefer (e.g., video, interactive, print, or even a live speaker).

Repurpose Content
We worked with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to conduct a brand refresh, delivering a family of reusable design elements and content that position them as a leader in the travel industry. In addition, we used a QR code at CLIA’s recent Seatrade Cruise Global trade show to direct attendees to an online toolkit with resources and materials.

4. Create a compelling visitor journey.

Does your event plan include pre-event, live event, and post-event activities? To deliver a truly compelling and memorable experience, make sure you have a logical “event chain”—for example, pre-marketing plans/teasers (including social media), in-show promotions, informational activities, and interactive solutions that draw in those attending in-person and your wider virtual audiences. And don’t forget about post-event follow-up! Be sure to link all of these components to your CRM tool, so you can communicate with visitors after the event, sharing content that they interacted with or showed interest in.

Website graphics on a computer
Novak Birch designed a dynamic logo, meeting materials, email campaign template, and graphics for the website, social media, and virtual platform for CLIA’s first-ever virtual Cruise Forward Virtual Summit—a first-of-its-kind event that explores critical topics affecting the cruise community today. The virtual event provided a seamless, engaging experience for attendees.

5. Partner with a marcom firm to fill your temporary employee gaps.

If you have a shortage of marcom employees, onboard a partner to quickly and efficiently fill your temporary staff needs. You’ll get the value and reach of effective marketing communications without the long-term monetary commitment. (Hint: Novak Birch is the perfect marcom partner!)

GOUSA image on Novak Birch website
Each year, Novak Birch work with Brand USA’s federal partners to unite their booths in one Federal Row aisle at IPW. We serve as the liaison with all partners, listening to their needs and creating a theme to connect all of the booths with one look-and-feel. By working with one marketing/events firm, each of the partners gets more visibility within the larger branded Federal Row space, without the cost of hiring individual firms.


These five tips will help you cost-effectively revitalize how you engage with your key audiences to achieve the best ROI.

Are you ready to transform your event strategy and get proven returns?

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