Trade shows are a part of most marketing strategies, yet often, trade shows almost always appear to be “stand-alone” marketing activities, versus integrated with your overall marketing strategy and digital marketing presence. While events don’t seem to be very “inbound marketing” focused, they are actually a fantastic opportunity to connect face-to-face with potential and existing customers. But just showing up to the event is not enough anymore. Your marketing events, whether they are trade shows, lunch & learns, networking events, etc. are an extension of your marketing strategy. Without a coordination of event marketing with online and inbound marketing, you are missing out on a great deal of potential opportunity to attract leads to your events, and close more business from the event as well.
Your comprehensive marketing efforts should be broken into three parts: before, during, and after the event. For this article, we will focus on trade shows specifically, but you can consider these strategies for a variety of your marketing events.
Before the Event
For events, generating awareness should be relatively seamless if you have all of your inbound marketing channels up and running: website, blog, social media platforms, and email marketing are all valuable tools for pre-event marketing and integrated marketing efforts.
While the most basic form of messaging can include calls-to-action to let people know you will be attending or hosting an event, this is also a great opportunity to segment your communications.
- Consider social media promotions and blog posts about the event to attract new customers with booth giveaways to the attendees who stop by your booth. You can include the social media handle of the conference for greater exposure, and post about how your company will be involved and what you're most excited about during the trade show.
- For leads and prospects, you can increase excitement by letting them know about some of the giveaways or raffles at your booth, or what they can learn by stopping by your booth.
- For a customer or partner that you know is already attending the trade show, an email campaign could focus on providing specific booth location info and specific business reasons to connect at the show, increasing the chance of creating a connection.
During the Event
At the trade show, the integration between digital and event marketing can continue to evolve between your event marketing and inbound marketing strategy.
- Consider posting photos of your booth, team at the booth, evening events you are attending, etc. This will help to bring a more personal connection to your company through social media.
- Live tweeting before, during and after the event is a necessity. Utilizing the event’s hashtag for tweets—or creating one of your own if it doesn’t already exist—will also let attendees know you’re there and where to find you.
- Send a follow up email to your leads and prospects who engaged in your last communication to remind them to stop by your booth or schedule a meeting with your sales team. This will keep you top of mind for those individuals attending the show.
- When someone stops by your booth, that is the prime opportunity to connect with that individual and encourage them to sign up to receive more information from you. Yes, there are lead retrieval systems at most events, but that only enables you to connect with that individual after the event, and based on when that lead retrieval company wants to send you the leads (and we know this can take days, or even weeks). Through digital tools, you can engage a prospect when they are at your booth through premium offers (i.e. ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, etc.) Much like the premium offers on your website, before giving away a sample or entering a name for a drawing, make sure attendees sign up to join your email list, or subscribe to your blog.
After the Event
Email marketing is a must after the event (although hopefully you’ve had your automation set up to email them during the event if they came to your booth as well).
- Offer your booth leads another premium content offer, which is different from what you were offering them at the trade show. In that email, you ask them to reengage on a landing page to access that offer. If you’ve had someone on your team write a fantastic blog post recapping the event, send your leads to that blog post directly so they continue to see you as a thought leader in the space.
- In addition, if you’re using HubSpot, you can also create a social media monitoring list that will allow you to monitor all of your trade show leads on social media. Consider sending them a personalized tweet sending them to that great blog post if they haven’t clicked on the above follow up email.
These are just a few ideas of how to incorporate inbound marketing efforts with your trade shows. For events, you really want to be sure to strategize your integrated marketing approach prior to the event. Trying to piece it together after the event puts you behind the curve, and your competitors have likely already connected with these prospects. Plan plan plan, and you’ll be on your way to a successful trade show!
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