Trade Shows as Part of Your Marketing Mix

Trade shows are still an important part of the marketing mix for many businesses and CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research) conducted a study in 2012 that showed that 48% of attendees value face-to-face interactions, exhibitions, conventions and annual meetings more now than they did 2 years ago.

Is your company planning to exhibit at a local Fort Worth trade show this year? Bigger shows include the Annual Fort Worth Home & Garden Show in August, the Dallas-Fort Worth Auto Show, and the Firstsource: Foodservice Seafood event in November. There’s plenty of seminars, conventions and events to participate in.

An advertising agency like Ardent Creative can traditionally be used to help you design refine your logo, create brochures and flyers, and come up with concepts for giveaways and booth displays, but how can you make sure these trade show materials are relating to your existing online marketing campaign? After all, some of your biggest goals at a trade show are to drive visitors to your site, generate quality leads and build an audience.

Leverage What’s Already Working

Look at what works about your web presence now- do you receive complements on the user friendliness or creativity of your website? Do your eNewsletters have high open or click through rates? Do you offer special discounts, prices or free estimates on Facebook that typically generate sales? Do you have a loyal audience on Twitter or LinkedIn that’s been developed from years of networking?

If your website is well-designed and informative, you want people to see it! Create a dedicated landing page for attendees, where they’ll be able to get a good idea of what your company offers through high quality images and copy, plus sign ups for a free download, estimate, demonstration, video or other promotional content. Make sure all your event posters and displays have QR codes for mobile users or a web address that directs users to this page. You could even offer an iPad station at your booth with an online quiz or game that gathers contact information and links to your customized landing page.

Other ideas for integration? Have a preview of your trade show presentation available online leading up to the event- you can hint to what your theme will be, include social media buttons for easy sharing, and give the landing page a unique http address incorporating the actual trade show name so that you’ll come up as a hit for your target market on search engines. Bring your blogger to the event and hold a contest called “Hire The Blogger”- offering attendees the chance to vote on topics they’d most like to read about, or a prize to the best blog post idea. Attendees might like the chance to interact with your company’s blogger and to give their input on what’s relevant to your industry.

Companies that are heavy social media users can create a hashtag for the event and hold a giveaway for tweets. You could bring a funny poster or cutout imprinted with you company logo to serve as a backdrop for Instagram photos. Before the event post clues, pictures or prompts on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn asking your followers to guess what event your company is preparing for, or where to look for you on a certain date. Create a Foursquare for your booth or learning center so people can check in and get some swag. Don’t forget to update your social media outlets as the event progresses- with cool or funny things you see, great people you meet, or short video clips of speakers, especially if someone from your company is presenting.

Take advantage of the goodwill you’ve already established with your newsletter audience- be sure to let them know how excited your company is to be participating, and include information about the upcoming event. Or, send a separate invite introducing the team that will be there, the theme of your booth, or a sneak preview of a product or service that you’ll be debuting.

Remember, you don’t have to be a presenter at a trade show or event to network- you can still blog and tweet about it, use the opportunity to check out the competition, and network with other attendees.

And the Takeaway Is…..

Get creative! A local trade show or event isn’t just about giving away cool gifts and hanging a giant company logo up. You want to create an experience for attendees that engages them with your website and digital footprint. Materials that have lasting impact and tie into your company’s entire marketing strategy will be remembered amongst the other companies and after the excitement of an event has worn off.

Contact us to see what Ardent Creative can do for you and to get a free estimate.