Integrating trade shows and digital marketing

Yep, the ol’ trade show is still relevant

Despite our focus on industrial marketing, we won’t deny that the trade show is still a pertinent marketing channel for a lot of construction, manufacturing and other B2B companies. Why? Attendees are typically part of a niche group and therefore very targeted. That’s often enough reason to be there. 99% of businesses, however, are missing opportunities to turn these events into something bigger and this is where web marketing comes into play.

Here are 6 ways to get more return on your trade show investment through use of digital marketing media.

1. Create a landing page and a unique URL

Why send people to if you could send them to Attendees at a trade show are there for a specific topic, so information most relevant to this show’s audience should be compiled for them. Create a page on your site with that information, a unique URL and an email capture form to convert those visitors into leads. For more on landing pages, click here.

2. Replace the printed brochure with a branded USB drive

How many brochures can a person carry around at a trade show? Eventually they wind up in the garbage. Abandon the brochure and bring along a box of branded jump drives with useful company resources on them. Include a white paper pdf on a related topic that includes links to the appropriate pages on your site. Jump drives fit in pockets, and at the very least can be reused by your visitors. The same can’t be said for printed brochures.

3. Collect email addresses!

Whatever you do, don’t miss the opportunity to collect email addresses and plug them into the appropriate database. That database may be a CRM system, email marketing software or some combination of the two. Be sure that the email addresses get plugged into the segmented lists so you can market specifically to this group in the future as well. This trade show is the first step in a sometimes long lead nurturing effort, so don’t miss here.

4. Follow up on LinkedIn

If you know their name and company you can find them on LinkedIn after the show. Connect, send a simple “nice to meet you message” and follow their company to learn some more. Even if they might not be the right person to talk with at their company, you’ve at least created a potential inroad to the right person. Click here for more on using LinkedIn for new business.

5. Ask to write a guest blog post on the trade show website

Here’s a request trade show organizers probably don’t receive too often. Reach out and ask them if you could write a guest post on their site. Provide useful information for the upcoming show’s audience and you’ve gained free publicity. Tell the organizer that you’ll promote the post on LinkedIn and other social channels, which will only drive more traffic to their site. And then do it. Win, win.

6. Use the appropriate Twitter hashtag while you’re there

At bigger trade shows, common hashtags often emerge on Twitter that are specifically related to that show. In other words, attendees add a topic identifier to their Tweets that essentially says “this tweet has to do with this trade show”.  If you’re a Twitter user, look for those hashtags and participate in the conversation. You may open doors to new connections and potential leads. If you’re not a Twitter user, become a Twitter user.

Much of this post was inspired by my findings in The B2B Social Media Book. This one is a highly recommended read for anyone involved in marketing, sales or management at B2B companies. If you’re a doubter on social media and/or b2b web design focused on inbound marketing, you won’t be after this.

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