9 Tips for Integrating Digital Marketing into Your Trade Show Strategy

There’s no denying the power of digital marketing (studies show that up to 80 percent of people research a company online before visiting a small business). And there’s no denying the power of trade show marketing (especially since 81 percent of attendees have some form of buying power). Indeed, the two tactics seem very much at odds. It’s a match-up between face-to-face, personal interactions and digital relationship-building, right? In truth, online marketing is sort of like fuel to the trade show fire. It can help double, triple or even quadruple your trade show success, all without a huge spend.

Why Exhibit?

You probably have a laundry list of business goals you want to check off your objectives list. When you set up shop at a trade show, you can come away with more (and more valuable) sales leads, a closer look at the competition, a chance to network with other leaders in your industry and stronger brand awareness among your core consumers. You may even get some free press coverage. No matter why you invest in that eye-catching trade show display, you can get the word out loud and clear when you take your marketing efforts online before and during the show. Here are a few great ways to do it.

Social Media: Run a Targeted Marketing Campaign

We can’t overemphasize the importance of targeted marketing. At its core, this just means zeroing in on a specific user—that is, a user who fits the profile of your target consumer—rather than advertising to all users broadly. So, with your audience in mind, to whom should you market? Before the show, consider advertising to people who have indicated that they will attend the event on social media or have “liked” the event page.

Social Media: Tease Your Swag Before the Event

So now that you’ve found your target user, what should you advertise? The goal is to build up some hype around your booth so that attendees make a beeline for it as soon as they walk through the door. Tease your freebies (and consider offering a special swag item for those who mention your post) and get enthusiastic about anything special about your booth.

Social Media: Integrate a Photo-Worthy Element

Modern consumers are huge on anything that makes a unique or interesting social media post. Offering a cool photo opportunity with a special guest, a funny prop or an otherwise noteworthy display element is an amazing way to get fans to market your business online. You could also offer a free giveaway for anyone who posts a photo with your special element.

Social Media: Integrate a Special Hashtag

Remember to always include some form of visual branding—such as a custom trade show banner or backdrop—into your photo-worthy component. You will also want to create your own one-of-a-kind hashtag, and have it printed on all signs, banners and marketing materials, so that you can easily find and share all user-generated content during and after the event. Make it specific to the event, not just your brand as a whole.

Email Marketing: Send Out a Blast Before the Show

Let everyone in your current network know that you’ll be exhibiting at the event with a pre-show email blast. Send it to all current and potential customers, partners, investors and prospects, and include the following information:

    • Where your booth will be located
    • Dates and times you’ll be exhibiting
    • Special swag items that will be available
    • Special guests or remarkable features of your booth
    • Relevant trade show events, talks and demos
    • Indication of product launches or demos
    • Incentives, such as special swag items, for those who stop by

Email Marketing: Create a Landing Page

Your pre-show email blast should be used for practical matters, like letting potential attendees know where to find you and advertising your sweet, sweet swag, but it’s still an opportunity for you to generate leads. To do this, create a landing page linked from your email with a clear call-to-action. You may want to keep your actual email short and to the point and include the above list in the landing page rather than the body of the email. It’s your call!

Content Marketing: Position Yourself as a Thought Leader

In the weeks before and after the big event, make sure you’re publishing your experiences online through blogs, guest articles and social media posts. Be forthcoming about your experiences—share what you expected versus the outcome, cool things you discovered at the show and general industry trends—to share with the rest of the industry. Remember to promote and share your posts across all social media platforms.

Content Marketing: Create a Sharable Video

Video marketing is still massive, with HubSpot reporting that 87 percent of consumers say they’d like more branded videos in 2019, so don’t miss out on this opportunity. Be sure to make and share videos highlighting your experience at the show and include other displays so that your video gets more shares and reaches a broader audience.

Content Marketing: Use “Stories” and Live Videos

These days, successful video campaigns aren’t all reliant upon high production value and amazing shots. You can garner just as much interest in your business with live videos and stories on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Be strategic about what you post so that viewers are interested enough to watch until the end, and make sure to use hashtags.

You Won’t Have Trade Show Success Without Digital Marketing

If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: You don’t want to exhibit at any trade show without marketing online before, during and after the event. For the highest return on investment, send out some digital feelers before the event, and then use the content—videos, photos, articles, etc.—to help position yourself as a thought leader in the industry afterwards. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to trade show mega-success.

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