Trade shows are the bread and butter of B2B. And for good reason - nothing can compete with the face-to-face networking opportunities created on the trade show floor. They're one of the best ways to get in front of your target market, and when done right, trade shows offer amazing lead generation potential.
But all too often, we see B2B brands leaving ROI on the table. They use the same trade show techniques over-and-over. Exhibit. Rinse. Repeat.
We're not saying booths, marketing collateral, and trade show sponsorships aren't important for success at trade shows, but we think it's time for brands to breathe some life into their trade shows with some additional, simple digital marketing tactics.
1. Social Media
Social media is the low-hanging fruit when it comes to your digital trade show presence.
First things first, find out the official hashtag for the trade show - write it down, monitor it, and add it to every trade show relevant post you share. If the trade show has social media accounts of their own, follow them. These preliminary steps will help you stay informed about the event and may gain you some followers of your own.
When it comes to spreading your message on social, let your followers know you'll be exhibiting early and often. During the show, let people know that you're attending and share your experience from the trade show floor (don't forget that hashtag).
Keep the trade show momentum going after the show by sharing a few final posts to thank those who stopped by your booth and to reach out to those who you weren't able to connect with.
If you're planning on running a promoted social campaign during the event, there are many ways that you can reach attendees.
One of the simplest ways to reach your audience is to target your ads based on the location and topic of the show. For a micro-targeted approach on Twitter, targeting based on the hashtag for the trade show is a surefire way to get in front of your audience.
2. Email Marketing Campaign
If email is part of your marketing mix, consider launching an email campaign surrounding your trade show presence. If you don't have a list of attendees, send an email well in advance of the show to let prospects know where they can find you. If you're sponsoring any events - like lectures or 'lunch and learns' - be sure to give your audience the heads up. On each email you send, make your contact information readily available. We also suggest giving prospects the option to book meetings with your team in advance.
Post-trade show follow-up is equally as important - while sales focuses on following up with leads from the show, marketing should line up a "sorry we missed you" email campaign to connect with prospects you missed. Encourage them to reach out and let them know where you'll be next.
Pro Tip: Keep time zones in mind when sending emails.
3. Content Exclusives for Attendees
If you're working on a great piece of digital content, why not time its release with a key industry event?
You have a few options here to make it a success:
- Use a tablet as part of your trade show display and encourage visitors to download the content piece while at your booth.
- Create a unique URL for your content and promote it on postcards at the show.
- Remember that social and email campaign? Encourage people to stop by your booth so they can get their hands on your exclusive piece of content.
- Arm your sales team with printed copies that they can give out to leads.
The tactics above are a great start for any marketing team looking to breathe life into stale trade show marketing. With 2017 right around the corner, kick off your next trade show by adding some of the tactics above.
Before you know it digital will be a key component of your trade show process.
Main image via Rico Shen, used under Creative Commons