This post first appeared in Anthony Bullick’s Daily Post column.

The year’s trade shows and exhibitions are starting to come into full view, and the key question for brands continues to be how they secure return on investment.

With hundreds if not thousands of pounds often spent, organisations that focus on building relationships before, during, and after the event are the ones most likely to see success.

A holistic approach to PR and marketing communications will position the firm to achieve the main objectives, whether it’s lead generation or changing perceptions.

The first step is understanding what will entice people to stop at your stand. A roller banner, a box of chocolates, and the chance to win a bottle of fizz won’t cut it.

Being creative doesn’t necessarily mean spending big. For example, if the target is competitive, consider modifying a game show to link to your industry with a leader board on show.

Ensure any collateral stands out. Think beyond branded pens and sales brochures, which are unlikely to be read. People are inundated with literature trying to influence them to buy.

Cut through the noise with a print newsletter. Designed like a newspaper or magazine, they consist of stories that resonate with individuals and are much easier to recall than features and benefits of a product or service.

Carefully consider the content. A mix of expert commentary, employee-focused articles, corporate communications, and tips and advice is usually a strong place to start.

Include eye-catching visuals such as people photography and infographics to grab attention as the reader flicks through the pages.

Connect the newsletter to that exhibition, for example with a QR code to a special offer, exclusive invite, or to review the leader board of your game.

The print newsletter can also be used at future events as well as left with clients after a meeting.

The newsletter itself can be embedded on your website, with the interactive element allowing you to add in links as well as media such as video and audio clips.

In addition, repurpose the stories to upload them to your site, which will help boost search engine optimisation (SEO). Maximise reach of the articles by sharing via email marketing and review whether issuing to the media will secure editorial coverage, boosting your company’s credibility.

Ensure the creativity and messaging seen at your stand is consistent throughout the entire user journey.

After the event, attendees may visit your LinkedIn profile, Google your business, or visit your website.

Is the experience, tone of voice, key messaging, and branding the same?

Also, if they recommend you, does their description of their interaction with you match what their contact sees online?