Event Marketing

Digitizing Your Next Trade Show

The following is a guest post by Matt Waterwall of TradeTec

In a digital-focused world, how does marketing make an impact in the face-to-face arena while showing a profitable ROI? The two major keys to success here are leveraging digital marketing pre, during, and post-trade show, while still keeping it personal and relevant to your audience.

First Things First: How Does Anyone Know You’re Going to Be at the Show?

So, you’ve committed to exhibiting at a show – it’s a great investment of time, money, and creative resources. It’s imperative that your audience is not only aware, but actually invited to attend and see you there.

Digital Creative

Assign your graphic design pro to create graphics that can be used in your social media, the home page of your website, employee email signatures, etc. Know the platforms where you intend use these and the associated graphic file dimensions to save a lot of headaches and back and forth on producing these. These mini-ads can easily convey your presence at the show, promos or contests you will have there, and even a rendering or image of your exhibit so your audience will have visual recall when they see it on the show floor.

Get Social

Post on your social sites that you are going to be at “x” show, in “y” booth, and to stop by for “z” reason. Calls to action are important. Give your audience an enticing reason to visit you. Up your game by creating a hashtag that associates with the theme of your booth for this show. Use this hashtag in everything you do going forward to increase awareness, track engagement, and drive ROI.

Create an Email Campaign

This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but should be well thought-out in terms of timing, creative, content, and segmentation (i.e. customers get different messages than prospects). Have at least one email pre-show and one post-show. If you use a marketing automation platform, create a content journey for email-viewers based on their level of engagement (i.e. someone who clicks on the download for your whitepaper might get a follow-up email tailored to that whitepaper’s content – which drives further engagement). Make sure you have calls to action in your campaigns, so you can track interests and collect useful data for conversations in your booth. Taking care to learn and demonstrate understanding of your audience’s needs and interests will give them a more personal connection to your brand.

Provide Passes

When you attend a show as an exhibitor (or sponsor,) often you are provided a code or a set number of passes that are available at a discounted rate. Pass this on to your customers and prospects! A recent study published by The Center for Exhibition Industry Research stated one in four B2B expo attendees paid their own way to be there. Imagine being able to alleviate some of their costs or even remove a barrier to their attending at all. This gives you a reason to engage, and also gives them a reason to visit you at the show (and probably thank you for the savings).

Digital at the Show

Some shows offer an app that allows attendees to browse exhibitors, floor plans, and flag any companies they want to visit. As an exhibitor/sponsor, there are often opportunities to enhance your company profile with whitepapers, brochures, or product catalogs. You might even be able to consider geo-fencing. This means that when an attendee is near your booth, they get a notification on their phone that has your logo and a “hey, stop by!” Maybe this notification even entices them with a prize, cup of coffee, or even a place to just sit for a minute. App notifications can also be useful if you are hosting in-booth presentations or if you are going to be presenting at the show. It can drive people to your booth at the right time for the right reasons.

Tie your social media and show-specific hashtag into your booth with a monitor displaying a live feed of mentions and tagged posts from all social sites. It gives attendees a personal connection to you; they feel important enough to end up on your screen in your booth. Don’t be afraid to make your interactions personal and meaningful!

Follow. Up.

Qualified leads collected are likely one of, if not THE top reason you decided to exhibit in the first place. These people visited you, talked with your team, and expressed interest with a need. Every marketer knows that effective and timely follow-up is the key to capturing true ROI from a show. This can be done through a personalized phone call, an email from a sales rep, or a specified email campaign (which should still be personal). Connect with them – give them a reason to continue engagement and show that you listened to their needs. Don’t drop the ball on this one.

If you have leads that don’t have a need, send them a link to your resource center or to your blog so that they can subscribe. Just because they don’t have a need now doesn’t mean they won’t later. Keep your brand (and what you could do for them) top of mind so that they reach out to you when they are ready.

In summary, a trade show booth alone won’t draw in the attendance you need. You need to surround your entire event with pre-, during, and post-show digital (and trackable) marketing that will increase traffic to your booth and drive awareness to your brand. Good luck, exhibitors!

About the Author

Matt Waterwall draws on 10 years of experience in the trade show industry as an Account Executive at Skyline TradeTec. Understanding your brand and its relationship to your clients, prospects, and industry is the foundation to his consultative approach. Matt’s goal is to create a branded tradeshow environment or event that serves as an exciting marketing vehicle to maximize your ROI. Matt is eager to evaluate your current program and show you how to get the greatest return on your investment.

TradeTec is a HITMC19 Sponsor.

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