If you aren’t doing so already, we’re fairly certain that before too long, you’re going to be looking towards your next, or maybe first, trade show.
Trade shows are an incredible marketing opportunity to promote your wares, evaluate the competition and see the latest innovations your particular industry has to offer. If you’re planning on taking part in one, or numerous, trade shows over the next 12-18 months, we’ve got the inside track on everything you need to put on a show worthy of your name. More importantly, we’ll highlight how social media will play a pivotal role in its success, become the unsung star of your show and reinforce all your inbound marketing efforts.
There’s no denying that putting on a trade show can be labour intensive, not to mention an expensive way to showcase your business, but the benefits to your overall marketing strategy can be enormous. In addition, the almost instant impact a show can have on your inbound marketing makes a trade show a business must, particularly when it comes to aligning your virtual presence with a very real one. If there are multiple trade shows you could attend, how do you decide which ones you should attend?
Which Trade Show
First thing you should do is your research. Take a look at all the shows coming up and get a feel for who’s going to be there, what exhibitors it has, its location, floor space and choose the one (or ones) that best align to your marketing strategy. They won’t all be a perfect fit, so work hard to understand those that are. Remember a trade show isn’t just about the event itself. Consider the days and weeks leading up to it, the immediate pre-show, naturally the event itself, but also don’t forget about post-event. This is where you social media campaigns will come into their own and honing their effectiveness to the different timescales will work wonders. Each platform will be able to offer something different, at different times and have different results. All of which you can analyse and use to your advantage for the next show.
B2B Social Media Planning
Plan the social media elements of your inbound marketing strategy and your trade show game-plan like a military operation. Starting from about 8 weeks out, work out a schedule of posts across all platforms. Initially, it may be enough to spread the various social media sites out quite thinly, e.g. Facebook post on a Monday, a Tweet on a Tuesday, LinkedIn post on Thursday and a blog on Friday. All of these should already be part of your inbound thinking. All of them should reflect the growing enthusiasm for the show to captivate and excite potential customers. As the event gets closer, increase the number of posts and increase the platforms used. Include more posts, more regularly and, where possible, have guest blogs from other visitors or guests. Your schedule should reflect the various strengths of each platform and run up to, including, and after the event is finished.
Your social media blitz shouldn’t end when the show begins. In many ways, it becomes even more important. Once the show is in full swing, your inbound marketing strategy should really start to blossom. Now you can meet all those virtual leads in person, plus all the new ones you will make, so keeping track of them is vital. Take the opportunity to connect with them; follow them on Twitter; take photos and tweet them with your hashtag (you’ve thought of one, right?), share promotional information and swap business cards. Even in this technology-driven world, that little card is still massively important.
Once the show is over and the booth is packed away, now the hard work really begins; turning all that data into leads, customers and sales. Inbound marketing is crucial to all of that. Depending on your product or service, the selling cycle might be a couple of days, or a couple of months, but whatever it is, use it to your advantage. Remember, inbound marketing is for life, not just for trade shows.