You’ve taken the leap and spent the money to go to a trade show. Your team is excited and ready to go and the booth/stand plan is all in place. Before you take a deep breath, thinking everything is all set, Complete Marketing Solutions wants to make sure you haven’t forgotten an invaluable tool in making the most of your investment. We’ll give you some clues. It’s free, almost everyone with a smartphone has access to it, and it gives you unfettered, direct access to your customers. What is it? Hopefully you said social media.
If you don’t already have social media accounts set up for your business, you’ll want to get that done ASAP – and definitely well in advance of the show dates – so you can use social media to promote your presence. Choosing which social media sites fit your company’s needs is a challenge that we will cover in another blog. In the meantime, if you’re not sure which social media platforms are best for your business, contact us and we’ll help you figure it out! For now, we will continue with the idea that you have already taken those steps and have at least one social media account that is connected to your website.
1. Get your hashtags together
Hashtags are widely used on Twitter to reach an audience that is particularly interested in a topic. Find out if there will be an official, or widely used, hashtag for the show where you’ll exhibit. You don’t want to be the only company using #PHXtradeshow while everyone else is using #PHXshow16, for example. Establish a unique hashtag for your own company and use it to drive traffic from the broad hashtag to your company specifically. Many trade shows are setting up their own handles or hashtags to help promote the show and capture the interest of those attending or watching it. Check the show’s main website to identify the handles and hashtags you can use to directly tap into that audience.
2. Use those hashtags to create pre-show buzz
Before the show even begins, start tweeting and posting about going to the show and inviting people to follow your hashtags. This way your audience can stay tuned in to what is going on at your booth throughout the show. In particular, you can let people know about specific products you might be showcasing at the event. This is also a great place to put out a few teasers to promote new products or services that are launching, contests you’ll hold, or unique giveaways people can obtain during the show. Post a few pics of the team working the booth so your audience will recognize them in the trade show hall.
3. Customize your website with a landing page
We’re not saying go re-design your entire website. But by creating a landing page that says something like, “Welcome Trade Show Attendees!”, you let the people know that they are in the right place. It’s important to design this page to be consistent with both your booth and main website designs, again creating a connection in your customers’ minds between the company at the trade show and the company’s website they are visiting.
4. Contact journalists and bloggers in your industry
You know the faces (or at least the bylines) of those people who write about your industry. Reach out to them, find out if they are going to the show and invite them to stop by your booth. Writers always need new content and talking with you might give them a “sound bite” they can use. We also suggest a little enticement in the form of some inexpensive logoed merchandise or a formal, exclusive interview with your company representatives. This experience can also help strengthen your relationship with them for the future, and they’ll be more likely to call upon your organization to comment on industry trends in other articles.
5. Use social media during the show
Okay, so don’t go crazy – most people get annoyed if one account “doesn’t know when to stop!” But during the show share photos, funny happenings, or great questions by customers. Make the experience interactive by tagging people in those photos and questions (but get their permission first!). Use your social media prowess to entice others to visit your booth. People are on social media at all times of the day and night, so it’s ok to post a pic a couple of times. But again, don’t go overboard.
6. Utilize social media after the show
Give a shout out to all those folks that stopped by your booth or participated in your drawings. Thank them for making your company’s trade show experience awesome. Post a group photo of the team who worked the booth to remind them of who you are. Let them know that you will continue to tweet and post, and invite them to follow your organization on your social media platforms to get even more great information. And remember to plug your website!