Trade Show Strategy

Top Dos and Don'ts when planning PACK EXPO-Related Marketing

Is your show season marketing plan in place? Don’t miss these valuable tips to ensure you’re making the most of promotion opportunities.

You’ve got one shot to maximize your brand’s impact at PACK EXPO. Do you know the best ways to get attention from the right buyers—while maximizing your investment? Consider some of these key dos and don’ts below.


Don’t limit marketing to only your own customers. According to the most recent PACK EXPO Marketing Benchmarks report, most exhibitors (over 80%) rely on sending emails to their own customer lists or creating free social media posts to attract people who have “followed” them on social media as key components of their show-related marketing. While it's good to get word out, this is just a small part of the addressable audience for your product. When it comes to maximizing booth traffic, it's far more important to reach all of those who DON’T know who you are.

Do take advantage of targeting to cut through the noise. PACK EXPO typically hosts thousands of exhibitors and more than 30,000 attendees from 40+ vertical markets. Given this busy scene, it’s valuable to find opportunities to stand out by relevant product categories or markets served and separate yourself from exhibitors at large.

One of the key ways you can do this is through participation in Game Plan. This option is the closet thing to a show directory for your product category.

Here’s how the program works:  Attendees who register more than two weeks in advance of the show receive a personalized guide to PACK EXPO with short product photos and descriptions from participating exhibitors in only the categories the attendees selected at registration. A personalized map guides the reader to featured booths, providing them with a personalized itinerary. (See full-size page example here.)

Just what kind of difference can participation have on your booth traffic? Analysis shows that those exhibitors featured in Game Plan have twice as many booth visits compared with those who aren’t. In addition, more than one-third of Game Plan readers report they not only depended on the guide to determine who was showing in relevant categories, but even researched many of the websites of companies listed in advance of the show based on the descriptions included. (The deadline for inclusion in Game Plan is September 9, 2020.)

Do know that an email-only promotional approach is likely to miss key members of the buying team. While email is a powerful marketing tool, it shouldn’t be your only tool given today’s tougher spam blocking, tightening privacy laws and increasing competition for the inbox.

You'll be more effective if you're creative with your marketing plan. The best way to ensure your message reaches maximum eyes is to pursue a cross-channel marketing approach, one that makes use of multiple channels and that targets your desired audience where they already are consuming content.

As one example, using the PMMI Audience Network for PACK EXPO to reach pre-registrants, marketers can reach prospects’ Facebook feeds or share pre-roll videos or display ads on news websites that prospects routinely browse. Options are available to reach all pre-registrants or narrowly target by industry or equipment interest.  (Just be aware that availability is limited and books quickly!)

Ramping up activity with the trade press in advance of the show also is important. Most PACK EXPO attendees—89 percent are “sometimes likely” or “very likely” to research exhibitors in advance (Source: 2019 Packaging End User and Supplier Buying Insights Study). For savvy marketers, this means you should skip the big on-site reveals and instead focus on informative press releases and ad creative leading up to the show.

One easy way to reach Packaging World readers with your product news is participation in its 13th issue of the year, Showcase. The Showcase is loaded with show information, including an exhibitor list, conference schedule and company profiles of exhibitors who advertise. Distribution includes Packaging World subscribers, visitors, pre-registrants and on-site attendees. (Note that deadline for Showcase inclusion is August 17, 2020.)

Don’t forget to complete your exhibitor directory listing (It’s free!). This company profile, which resides on the PACK EXPO website and PACK EXPO app, will highlight the vertical markets you serve, product categories of relevance and any press releases or news about in-booth educational offerings that you would like to share.

Don’t limit your focus to only pre-show activities. Maximizing booth ROI—new customers and sales—depends heavily on efforts after the show. Ideally, you should be scheduling six months of follow-up as part of your planning.

This timing is necessary because buying teams conduct research in varying stages, and their decisions aren’t always linear to the show. The best way to keep your brand top of mind among potential buyers during the research process is with communications across a variety of channels. Creating ongoing opportunities for engagement in the months post-show helps ensure you’ll be part of the conversation as different accounts come into market.

Do know that PMMI Media Group can provide support in building your show-related plans. Feeling overwhelmed? It can seem daunting with so many options for how to market yourself around the show. The good news is that you’re not in it alone. By scheduling a one-on-one consultation with your local sales rep, you can stay up-to-date with promotional offerings and availability and gain advice on the best types of approaches to reach your desired audience and achieve your particular marketing goal.

An Important Metric: Trade Show Lead Origin

Being creative with how you get people to your booth can attract countless booth visitors and create a memorable experience for attendees. But that effort is wasted if you are not attracting the right people and turning those people into leads.
Did you know almost one-third of suppliers don’t track trade show lead origin? (2019 Packaging End User and Supplier Buying Insights Study.)
If you’re looking at only quantity of accounts coming in after a show (or not even doing that)—and not tracking the ultimate sales impact of new business— then you’re not appreciating full ROI of your booth investment.
Sales cycles are long and buying teams have depth—on average, four or more people make up a packaging equipment buying team. By focusing on a one-time touchpoint, you miss out on the much bigger role shows play in driving business. Tracking lead origin through won opportunity can provide your team with valuable insights into what is and isn’t working in generating the right leads—and can give you the data needed with your executive team to make the business case for trade show and related marketing investment.
Top Dos and Don'ts when planning PACK EXPO-Related Marketing

Written by

Sarah Loeffler