If you’re planning on exhibiting at trade shows this year you’re obviously going to want to get the most return on your trade show investment, especially in these uncertain economic times.

So how do you do this? The first rule of ensuring a successful trade show appearance is to promote your presence effectively. If you're trying to reach out to an audience of industrial professionals, that means promoting your trade show presence online – where this audience is proven to be spending much of their time.

Try some of these online promotion tactics that appeal to the industrial audience, who we already know are spending a good deal of their time online:

Your company Web site: Announce your trade show presence on all key pages of your Web site, and include your booth number, the show dates, location, link to the trade show Web site, and any promotions or incentives you are offering booth visitors.

e-mail marketing. If you publish a regular e-newsletter, promote your trade show appearance there, and make sure you link back to a page on your Web site with all the details. Even better, send a dedicated marketing e-mail that concerns only the trade show. That way your message will be stronger and won't get lost among other content in your e-newsletter.

Online banner ads. Online banner ads offer great exposure and the ability to get your message seen where your target audience is – provided you choose relevant sites to advertise on.

e-Newsletters. Promote your trade show appearance in e-newsletters that reach your target audience. It’s a good way to get a lot of bang for your buck.

No matter where you promote your trade show presence online, be sure to give your audience a reason to visit your booth. Whether you have exciting new products to demonstrate, a prize giveaway, news to announce, or a special guest at your booth, let people know that your booth is the place to be.

The second half to a successful trade show is capitalizing on all the contacts you made while there. To read more about the best practices for adding business contacts to your e-mail program that you acquired from trade shows, read B to B online's article on the subject and make sure all your promotion efforts have not been wasted.

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