Trade shows are highly effective mediums for branding and lead generation. This is because such events bring together the most relevant businesses and audiences under the same roof. But, you can only expect fruitful returns if you are strategic with your marketing. The right pop-up tents, branding, promotional collateral, and social media will help you increase the number of leads and prospects at the event.
“But that’s online marketing, isn’t it? Why would I need it at my event? Isn’t a canopy tent with sides and signage enough?”
Sadly, no. In fact, this is not even the question. The real question is: Will I miss out if I don’t leverage the potential of social media? And the answer to this is, “Yes, heavily.” Integrate social media with your trade show marketing plan will bolster your overall ROI.
List out the steps as you would do for any other marketing plan. Include the overall goals that lead with a specific plan of action. Ask yourself the following questions to get started:
- Do I want to announce my tradeshow participation online?
- How many people do I want the announcement to reach?
- What action do I want these people to take?
- What platforms should I use?
- Who will post?
- When will the posts go?
- How long before the event should the promotions begin?
…and so on.
Next, break down your strategy into pre-, during, and post-show stages.
- Pre-show marketing lets your followers know about your participation in the upcoming tradeshow. This way, they can plan to visit your booth, maybe bring along a potential prospect.
- Marketing during the event is essential; it keeps your followers posted with day-to-day activities at the ongoing event. For instance: what time the event starts, what activities you’ve planned for the day, and maybe a couple of selfies with your visitors to keep the engagement levels high.
- Post-show marketing helps you create lasting connections with industry professionals, re-connect with new leads, and increases your chances of converting these leads into paying customers.
Great. So, how do I get started?
Breaking your strategy into a phase-wise plan is a good practice.
How does it look? Pre-show preparation tips.
- Use the event hashtag
Hashtags are used extensively by organizers and attendees for sharing event related content on social media. It’s an excellent self-promotional tool, perfect for letting people know you’re participating and where to find you.
When to begin?
Start two to four weeks prior to the inauguration day. Use the hashtag to talk about what you’ll do at the event, show your custom tent in progress, and maybe give your followers a sneak-peak at the signage and freebies. Don’t forget to tag your team members. Ask them to share these posts on their walls, so that it reaches their friends and family members too.
in progress, and maybe give your followers a sneak-peak at the signage and freebies. Don’t forget to tag your team members. Ask them to share these posts on their walls, so that it reaches their friends and family members too.
- Use photos, videos, and GIFs along with text
Are you going to launch a new product, or will you announce the opening of a new office at the show? Build a story and use the days before the event as countdown to create a hype around your big news.
Keep the teaser video short, images colorful, and content catchy. Add a cliffhanger towards the end, so that viewers are hooked and curious to find out more.
How you doin’? Keeping the engagement up during the event
- Start an online contest
Be as creative as you can – use a mix of polls, surveys, caption writing, selfie-taking, and hash tagging. Encourage users to participate in lieu of freebies, complimentary gifts, or discount coupons. This will keep the adrenaline levels high on your social media handles throughout the event.
- Go live
People love streaming live events. Go live during an interview, catch a celebrity visiting your booth, or share an interesting performance happening in real time. Your engagement rates will automatically spike up.
And it’s a wrap: Post-show follow-up
The purpose of tradeshows is to network and create long-lasting connections with industry peers, and customers. The best practice to achieve this to continually engage with your community. Use LinkedIn to stay in touch, and don’t forget to thank your visitors.
- Send a ‘Thank you’ note
This is particularly helpful for B2B shows, since the attendees are mostly mid-level and senior management, who is not usually lured by freebies. Connect with your prospects by building a relationship instead.
Send a simple ‘Thank you for visiting our booth’ note to your peers and professionals. You can tweet or tag the visitors on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Alternately, if you happen to have their photos next to your custom tent booth, share on Instagram by tagging their handle. This might lead to a response, or retweet which can expose your business to an even wider audience.
- Share videos, images, and interesting tit-bits
For #ThrowbackThursdays, create a colorful collage of some of the best photos from your event, and share them across your social media accounts. Your followers will be instantly reminded of the tradeshow. You can also upload old photos from the time you participated in the event as part of next year’s promotional campaign.
Well, there you go. 6 tried and tested tradeshow promotional tips for engaging your online followers during a tradeshow.
Word of advice, keep in mind that the nature and tone of posts changes across social media. For example, LinkedIn is strictly formal while Facebook is informal. Twitter, on the other hand, uses a mix of both formal and conversational style tweets. Instagram is mostly image and video oriented.
Here’s a handy list for quick reference:
You can use a variety of posts for Facebook, both long and short, but the traffic here is stagnant. It is not the best place for constant updates, especially if you’re a new business or have less active followers.
Pro tip: Go for longer content, such as recaps, photos, and videos that can be uploaded towards the end of the day.
The best part about Twitter is that the feed gets updated at the speed of light. This is why, it is the ideal place to share in-the-moment posts with bite sized content.
Pro tip: Tweet during and post event for maximum effect.
Instagram is popular because it is the most visual of all social media networks. Use it to share photos and videos.
Pro tip: Share photos of your pop-up tents, signage, product demos, and celebrity visits to your booth.
LinkedIn is the best place for planning pre-show marketing. Search your joined groups to find out if any members will be attending the show. You can connect with these professionals, and get them involved in your promotional campaigns.
Pro tip: Share a post ‘Excited to announce that Mr. X or Ms. Y will be joining us at the tradeshow’, and tag the said person.
BONUS: Converting sales inquiries from your social media handles
Businesses spend weeks after the tradeshow to connect with leads. Most of this conversation is over phone and mails, but you can also leverage your social media accounts to generate inquiries.
Provide your social media handles on marketing collaterals, freebies, or giveaways, promising further discounts, complimentary demos, or subscriptions at slashed prices. Users can be encourage to follow your business online and avail these services. Win-win for both!
Are you still sure you don’t want your online followers to come meet you at the trade show? We hope not.
Did you find these hacks useful? Will you be using them the next time? Do you have some other tips up your sleeve? Share with us in comments below. And, if at any point, you want to buy pop-up tents for your business, don’t hesitate to contact our experts here at Extreme Canopy – America’s leading canopy tent suppliers.