Advertise your products, not your marketing activities

I had an interesting discussion last week with a client who has scheduled a number of exhibition appearances for 2015 and wondered if these should be promoted through search advertising. The instinctive answer might be yes: we’re doing something, so let’s shout about it. But on further consideration, I wonder what’s being advertised here – products, or marketing activities? If it’s the latter – why?

If you want existing customers and known prospects to come to an exhibition because you’ve got something new to show them (and your sales team can’t get round to do it personally), then contact them directly. No point in advertising there.

For unknown prospects, you’d presumably be advertising against searches on products. So, on a results page for “blue widgets”, your competitors’ adverts would say: “see our blue widgets on our website now”, and yours would say: “see us at this exhibition”. Given that the prospect is looking for information on blue widgets now, that’s not a good thing for you.

You could, of course, advertise against searches on the exhibition name. Presumably these searches would be from people who want tickets for the exhibition. But you’re likely to be up against search results (or adverts) from the exhibition organisers, and I’m not sure what function your advert is performing there.

Where I think there is a big opportunity – usually wasted – to advertise your presence at forthcoming exhibitions on your own website. In this way, people seeing the pages, and therefore presumably already vaguely interested in your offerings, might be inspired to get out and meet you. Or they may have been planning to visit the exhibition anyway. But you don’t need to spend money putting this information on other websites.

And don’t tuck this information away on a “forthcoming exhibitions” page or on a blog post. Nobody will see that. It needs to be as a banner on your product pages. If you do regular exhibitions, maybe your web designers can add in a special banner to the template which you can update quickly and externally.

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