Speaking or exhibiting at the right tradeshow can be a powerful business marketing tool. A tradeshow geared towards a business’ target audiences can present an opportunity to meet prospective clients, network with possible strategic partners, and learn about market trends and opportunities while increasing brand visibility. Unfortunately, one carefully-crafted and eloquently delivered presentation and/or a strategically designed booth isn’t always enough to generate business. Day-of activities need to be supported by pre-show outreach and post-show follow-up. Here are five ways to build a buzz around a company’s tradeshow presence and generate tangible ROI:
#1 Work Your Existing List:
Does your company maintain a list of individuals met at networking events, existing clients and/or leads? In advance of a tradeshow, draft an e-communication to any or all of the above lists that alerts relevant parties to the upcoming tradeshow, promotes any affiliated presentations your president, CEO, etc. may be giving, and provides compelling reasons to visit your company’s booth. Think of the tradeshow as an opportunity to get face-time with some key people that are already on your company’s radar.
#2 Deliver a Valuable Booth Experience:
Tradeshows often house hundreds if not thousands of exhibitors. After the first few aisles, booths can begin to look very similar. While hosting a magician at your booth may not be a relevant tie-in, there are many ways to attract the right visitors to a booth. Our friends at The Perfect Promotion are a great example. When they exhibited at the CT Business Expo and Business Showcase this year, they hosted a photographer who provided visitors with free professional headshots. As a promotional products company, the free headshots were a logical tie-in, giving attendees a strong image with which to market themselves.
#3 Personalize Your Follow-Up:
Just because 1,000 people visited your booth at a health and wellness expo does not mean that those 1,000 people share a common buyer persona. For companies that offer a wide-range of products/services, this can be especially challenging. Encourage those staffing your tradeshow booth to take notes on the business cards of individuals with whom they speak. These notes can be used to identify which email marketing lists are most appropriate to add these individuals to and identify where they currently are in the sales cycle. Individuals at the top of the marketing funnel have different needs than those at the bottom of the funnel who are nearly ready to make a purchase.
#4 Leverage Social Media Marketing Tools:
Whether you are an individual who is adept at using LinkedIn for business or a company with an established Twitter presence and robust Facebook community, social media marketing can enhance your tradeshow marketing efforts. In advance of the tradeshow, share social media updates that let community members know where you will be exhibiting and what will be happening at your booth. In addition, encourage community members to comment on your Facebook post or reply to your tweet if they will be attending the show.
Oftentimes, tradeshows will have a hashtag for the event that can be used on Twitter to tag your updates appropriately. There is also an opportunity to use Twitter’s search feature following the trade show to see who tweeted about the tradeshow. These users may be companies or individuals who it would be advantageous to follow/interact with on Twitter in the future.
During or following the trade show, you may want to share booth and/or presentation photos through Facebook or Twitter as well. This is an opportunity for those who may have attended the tradeshow to provide feedback and to learn who in your community is continuing to engage with your brand thereafter.
#5 Develop an Online Information Hub for Attendees:
Websites are no longer static marketing documents that resemble traditional brochures or sell sheets. They are dynamic information hubs that provide target audiences with valuable and timely information. When planning to exhibit at a tradeshow, consider what types of online content would be valuable to those who visit your booth or attend an affiliated presentation. Would attendees want more information on your services? Would they be interested in a whitepaper that offers free tips/advice? Would they be intrigued by a short video that gives an overview of your company’s newest product or service? All of the above are types of content that could be housed on a website landing page that is dedicated to tradeshow attendees. This page might be displayed on a computer or tablet housed within your booth or accessible by scanning a QR Code with one’s smartphone.
With tradeshows requiring an investment of both time and money, it is imperative that businesses examine how tradeshow marketing fits within their overall business plan and marketing strategy. Identifying communication tactics that build upon one’s tradeshow presence and provide opportunities to strengthen relationships with attendees and ultimately generate leads can make the difference between eight or more lonely hours inside a booth with low attendance and leaving a tradeshow with a fresh list of prospective clients and clear opportunities to generate ROI.