Make Trade Show Marketing More Effective With Digital

Digital marketing can be a huge help to cultivating contacts before a trade show and making your sales reps’ time even more efficient and effective while at trade shows. It comes down to making a plan of how digital will support your trade show staff and events.

Smart B2B companies know that your trade show experience begins before the event starts by cultivating awareness and making contacts before you even arrive. B2B marketing strategies that incorporate marketing techniques long before trade show dates may have a better outcome at the event.

If you want potential customers to come out and talk with you at your booth, it is important to get the word out beforehand. Digital marketing can help you do more easily and better integrate your industrial digital marketing strategy into existing tactics in your company.

We’ve helped our clients with B2B trade show marketing techniques that generate new clients and benefit their overall business. Since trade shows are some of the most profitable places for your customers to be.

Marketing your exhibit is a great way to get more people to for you to make connections, we wanted to share this guide to help you get even more out of your trade shows.

Digital Marketing Strategy for Trade Shows

We’ve developed a four-part strategy that works well for industrial companies and manufacturers at trade shows that incorporates some savvy digital marketing strategies that go beyond the usual industrial marketing techniques. The overall goal is to make trade shows more productive and increase awareness of your company’s presence at a trade show.

It’s all about targeting your trade show attendees before, during, and after the trade show.

1. Before the Trade Show Create Buzz With Social & Email

The most critical time for a trade show is actually before a trade show, not at the trade show. If you wait to promote your booth until the day of, you’ll already have missed out on a large part of the benefits your company can get from being at a trade show.

Experienced sales reps know the drill: call any past and current customers and new leads to tell them you’ll be at the show and schedule as many face-to-face meetings as possible and give out event invites like candy.

But that requires a lot of hands-on time from your reps and there’s only so many phone calls they can make. Instead, using digital can give you a leg up and help you save time as well as cultivate leads that aren’t already in your pipeline who are planning to attend.

First, send out an email to your CRM contacts announcing you’re going to be at the trade show. Invite your contacts to meet with you at the trade show, to attend a special event, or just give them a great reason to drop by your booth. You’ll have data from your email campaign of who may be interested in your booth to reach out to for a personal connection based on email open data—and you can go a step further by using a simple in-email poll about if they’ll attend to get a great list of who to talk to before a show, making your sales reps’ time more productive.

Next, you’ll want to use social media to inform your existing audience who aren’t in your CRM that you’ll be at the trade show. We advise creating multiple posts and syndicating them across staff profiles on LinkedIn, as well as doing posts on other social media platforms. You can also use social media ads to target lookalikes to your customers or people who would make good leads to create buzz.

The trick is to do more at your booth than just the “come by to see us!” or even using the classic “we’ll be giving away a cooler!” trick to increase booth attendance. You have to give your prospects a reason—one that matches with your business and attracts the right crowd—to come by your booth.

We also advise that when you build your industrial website, you include a space for trade show information if it’s an important part of your overall new business strategies.

2. During the Trade Show Increase Foot Traffic With Social & Create Brand Equity

At the trade show, your sales reps should be focused entirely on in-person meetings and connections. They don’t have time to manage social media on top of that other than maybe one or two photos of your booth to post to social media.

Instead, you should use already planned social media geo-fenced ads that target the area around where the trade show is being held and uses demographic targeting to show ads to your potential customers who are in attendance. Trade shows are busy so having a team that manages interactions with ads during the show that isn’t working leads at the show is a key element to best capitalize on your social media ad investment.

You can also use social media to promote your trade show booth as it’s happening. It gives people a chance to see what’s going on and what to expect when they come to visit you.

In addition to social media ads, you can use other day-of tactics to build relationships and show your industrial company’s position as a leader in the market by using additional digital marketing techniques, including:

  • Live social media coverage of trade show events, including streaming and live tweeting
  • Recording podcast episodes with other thought leaders or influencers at your booth
  • Creating additional content to be released later after the trade show, including video content

Having a team at a trade show that is specifically tasked with creating brand equity through digital means can allow your industrial company to show your expertise, create positive associations in your potential clients’ minds between you and other leaders, and create content that will help sales reps cultivate relationships well after the trade show is over.

In addition to booth-focused tactics, you can also use partnerships with the trade show organizers to get new lead information for contact after the show is over, including buying email lists and contact information of attendees, coordinating on events that require registration, and using other tactics to gain information for cold-calling and lead nurturing later.

3. After the Trade Show Cultivate Leads with Email & Remarketing

Marketing to trade show attendees shouldn’t stop when you’re back home after everything is over. Instead, your marketing should focus on cultivating the relationships you started at the trade show and following up with contacts you don’t yet have a relationship with.

The easiest way to do this is through email, if you have contact information that you gathered at the trade show. You can use automations to educate and cultivate those contacts in addition to reaching out directly. Since it may take some time for your reps to contact everyone from the show individually, especially if the show produced a high volume of interest, email automations keep your company top of mind until your reps can take action.

In addition to email nurturing, you can also use remarketing ads to target individuals who were at the show or who engaged with your messaging from the show. Remarketing ads are triggered by a tracking pixel that tags a specific individual or device so you can show them customized messaging that reegnages them.

For instance, after doing live streaming on social media, you can create a remarketing campaign that targets people who watched the live stream. Not only can this allow you to stay top of mind with people who engaged while they were at the show, you can extend the reach of your trade show appearance by targeting people who watched the live steam who weren’t physically present.

Using your digital assets to keep your industrial company top of mind well after a trade show is over can also help potential clients not suffer from what we like to call “trade show overwhelm” where they forget a lot of who they met or interacted with at the show.

Your industrial company can stay top of mind, your sales reps can be more effective after it’s over, and you can better capitalize on investing in being at trade shows.

Integrating Digital into Industrial Trade Shows

Using digital to make your trade shows more productive all comes down to having a plan in place well before the trade show happens and using digital technology in highly targeted, creative ways.

If you’ve never implemented a digital strategy before for a trade show, it can be a bit overwhelming because it’s often a bigger implementation than day to day marketing activities.

Our team has helped clients use digital marketing to make trade shows more effective. We’re happy to talk with you about your needs and how digital can make trade shows more effective in a free initial consultation. Reach out before your next trade show to see what you can accomplish with digital.

Kim Herrington

Kim Herrington is Creative Director of Orsanna where she leads the production and strategy for clients' marketing and advertising. She founded Orsanna over seven years ago to bring quality marketing services to business owners.

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