When you’re attending a trade show there are a lot of moving parts to track and keep in line. If your team has to travel, where are they staying? If you need a booth or swag at the event, how and when does it need to be shipped? Who’s doing demos? Who’s meeting with prospects? Do we have a speaking engagement? After-party? Sponsorships, venue deposits, flights…the list goes on.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of not promoting your event presence because your team is overwhelmed. You may think people will just “see you there” and that’s good enough. But don’t be fooled: you must promote on your own.
Why do you need to promote an event appearance?
Trade shows are hectic for everyone–even attendees. Not only are there all of the vendors on the floor, there are interesting sessions and social gatherings to attend throughout the day. Consider that most trade show attendees are on the clock, that means they’re also dealing with work emails and meetings whenever they can fit them in.
Promoting your appearance or event can ensure that your prospects and customers know you’re there. Instead of wandering around the floor aimlessly, wasting the precious free time they have, they know right where to find you. When customers come by your booth to chat, use this opportunity to reinforce your working relationship and promote evangelism. Prospects can stop by to take a break from the chaos of the unknown around them, allowing you to get the face time you need to give a demo or even sign a deal.
How to Promote
As a trackable tool for event promotions, email is an obvious choice. With your marketing automation tool, you can schedule emails weeks ahead of the event to your prospects and customers. You can speak directly to the people you’re already talking to, right in their inbox that they go to every day. Taking a break from the usual content routine to tell them about your presence at a show also humanizes your company and brings new attention to the emails you send.
Additionally, you can A/B test subject lines or copy to improve open rates and click-through-rates as well as send targeted messaging to people based on their interactions with the emails you’ve sent to date.
Social media is a no-brainer. In the US alone, as of 2016, 78% of Americans have at least one social media account. And, while you may think that social media accounts are just for pleasure and fun, most people connect with work and follow pages/posts related to their careers.
However, you cannot expect to see great success with posts when you only post about the events you’re attending–you must post regularly, before and after, to build and maintain your “social cred.”
You also need to make sure to do your research and due diligence. Does the event have any designated hashtags? If so, use them any time it makes sense. That way, you’ll get pulled into all of the noise around the event without even trying which means more people will see your tweets.
Take Dreamforce, for example. Search #dreamforce and you’ll see any number of posts from the last few years centered around the event.
— Mark Dando (@Msdando3180) November 21, 2016
Reach out to any team members that will be attending the show. Ask them if they have social accounts and if it’s okay to tag them in posts. This gives your audience a more personal experience–you’re not just a big corporate machine. You’re a company filled with people to which they can relate. Make sure your team members also know to share any and all posts copiously. Increase your reach!
Finally, when planning your social media strategy, don’t forget to reach out to the conference organizers. They may have specific collateral, messaging, or images for use by sponsors/exhibitors.
Do NOT forget to blog! Blogging is extremely important because it allows you to produce long-tail keywords centered around the event. Blog posts will help you not only establish your presence but will also allow you to benefit from a boost in organic traffic related to searches for the event.
Make sure to blog before and after. That way you’ll also be featured in the buzz after the show. You can share the blogs on social media and use it as a backlink opportunity by connecting yourself directly to the conference website where it’s relevant.
Blog posts can be centered on anything you find interesting at the show. Did you have a favorite session? Does your team have some speaking opportunities you’d like to highlight? Favorite booths or swag giveaways? Blog about it! Just because it’s your blog doesn’t mean it has to be about you. By focusing on the community instead of yourself your blog will resonate with readers on a more profound level. Add photos of the event to bring readers into the action so they can experience it for themselves.
The best way to effectively promote your trade show presence is to first create a plan that everyone on the team can view at any time. A detailed plan ensures that everyone knows what’s going out when and what the plan is. No one can accidentally overwrite an email or social message and the blogs will have scheduling priority.
Additionally, make sure everyone is aware of your messaging and brand guidelines. Every message and image, across every platform, should be consistent to reinforce the message. Your target audience will often be on every platform and you don’t want to confuse them with conflicting messages.