Conventions, conferences and trade shows offer major marketing opportunities across many industries. As a trade show vendor, you’re given the chance for face-to-face time with an influx of potential customers, to showcase your products or services, to attend or lead educational sessions and to check out what your competition is up to. Many large organizations attend several trade shows each year.
Because trade shows cram so much into a short time, companies are anxious for customers to remember them. They spend a significant amount of money on takeaways, from sales sheets and company collateral to promotional gadgets and catchy toys like the spinners from the top spinner company profiles. All told, trade shows take up as much as 40 percent of the average B2B’s marketing budget, according to Social Media Today. It’s easy to be overlooked or forgotten after everyone packs up and leaves. Social media, though, offers companies a way to make lasting connections to potential customers.
Use Social Media to Boost Pre-Show Booth Visits
Start working your booth before the trade show. The Social CMO Blog recommends you start selling your booth through your social media outlets and email list before each trade show to let your connections know you’ll be there. Tell them where your booth will be located, and about any special trade show offers you’ll be featuring. Let them know if you’re presenting at a session. Be sure to blog or comment on information posted about the upcoming trade show, particularly those by industry bloggers and journalists.
Use your social media efforts to give away cool stuff even before the trade show, as Social Media Today advises. Give away a few really nice promo items to people who post good ideas about how they use your product or photos on your website or social media account, such as Pinterest or Instagram. If your product is sold directly to consumers, Facebook is a good place to run this kind of campaign.
Trade shows already have sophisticated social media campaigns. Get in touch with the people running them and ask them for advice. It’s quite possible they can integrate your campaign with theirs, giving you a niche that competitors might miss.
Onsite Social Media Messaging During Trade Shows
Once you are onsite at a trade show, the booth itself must remain your focus, as The Trade Show Institute emphasizes. Do not let your booth staff get caught up in Tweeting or posting. Their job is to demonstrate your product or services. Instead, designate someone to handle onsite social media. This person can blog, post to your usual accounts, or host Google+ chats, suggests Mediabistro.com, which also recommends installing a closed loop WiFi connection to encourage people to hang around.
If you decide to run an onsite social media campaign such as a photo contest, be sure you list the rules. Invest in a well-designed standing banner for this purpose. A colorful, eye-catching display that incorporates your corporate logo can be used at several trade shows.
You probably have a post-show follow-up process in place to thank people whose names you collected when they visited your booth. Be sure to do the same for those who posted to or about you during the trade show, as Mediabistro suggests. Review the comments you see on the show and your booth, and recap events on your blog. Put up a post-show page on your website and/or Facebook page and consider writing a white paper to distribute after particularly successful events.