Trade shows and conventions still play a big role in a lot of industries, particularly in B2B markets such as manufacturing, construction, and technology. One of the top trade shows in America is the International CES in Las Vegas. The total number of attendees equals around 101,600 and the total number of exhibitors is around 3,300. Those are some great odds, with the potential for one in every thirty people to stop by your booth.
So, as an exhibitor, what are some ways to take advantage of this? How can you make sure that you get the right information from people? What will you do to remember and follow-up with the people who were only ‘kind of’ interested? How will you ensure that attendees don’t forget you? These are all great questions, and luckily, I have answers. Check out my 4 ideas for how to integrate digital marketing into your next trade show or convention:
Idea 1: Encourage Blog Subscription or Newsletter Sign-up
The first step in a successful online marketing campaign is attracting an audience to your website. This can be done through a lot of different channels, such as social media, email campaigns, or blogging. If people stop by your booth, and aren’t ready to make any big commitments, give them a baby step to take in the form of a blog or newsletter subscription. Ideally, this would be a digital form that they could fill out on the spot and, to help make it easy, only an email address would be required. This will allow you to “touch” that person well-after the trade show, reminding them that you exist and giving them an opportunity to engage when they’re ready.
Idea 2: Use Digital Forms
Whenever possible, try to have people fill out digital forms (on iPads or laptops) rather than writing their information down on paper. This is critical to ensuring a speedier follow-up.
If you use a program such as HubSpot, Marketo, or Pardot, this is very easy with the landing page and form tools that they provide. Additionally, the marketing automation tools that these programs provide allow you pre-plan and tailor the time frame of your follow-up to each person.
Idea 3: Social Media – Before, During, and After
Nowadays, it’s pretty typical for a trade show, convention, or conference to have it’s own hashtag and Twitter handle. Absolutely jump on that bandwagon, use the hashtag, and participate in the conversation. During the event, monitor the hashtag stream, post pictures and tweet about what your company is up to. On your posters, tables, promo items, and screensavers, make sure to mention where people can find you on social media. After the event, follow-up with people on LinkedIn and include a personal message in the connection request. All of these things will help to grow your social audience and keep you in people’s minds after the show.
Idea 4: Guest Contributors
Always be on the lookout for people who can help contribute to your content creation efforts. Many times, these people will be your fellow exhibitors – companies who are not your competition, but offer complimentary services to yours. However, it could also be an attendee. Exchanging content with people is a powerful way to reach a new and wider audience.
Trade shows and conventions have a lot of traditional marketing elements, but you can put a touch of modern on them with some of the ideas above. So, when the time comes to plan your next trade show booth, I hope you’ll incorporate some digital elements too.