In an era of digitized marketing, one might think trade shows and other live-event-based marketing strategies would move into decline. To the contrary, tradeshow marketing as a tactic has shown remarkable resilience. After all, marketers realize that there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings with clients and key business partners. Moreover, digitization has only enhanced the potential marketing power of trade events.
For the fifth straight year, in-person events have topped the list of most effective B2B marketing tactics. Content Marketing Institute’s “B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America” reports 75% of survey respondents say in-person events are effective. This was the highest-ranked tactic on the list, above efforts such as webinars/webcasts (66%), case studies (66%) and white papers (63%). Similarly, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research released a report, “Marketers Find Exhibitions an Essential Marketing and Sales Tactic,” that found business-to-business exhibitions rank second as a marketing and sales tactic and are identified as the primary channel by 77% of surveyed exhibitors.
So how do B2B brands ensure that their investment in tradeshows will lead to successful results? The most successful marketers have leveraged digital strategies to increase the value of live events. Many companies may not have the internal bandwidth to cover all the bases, especially considering that a comprehensive marketing plan entails more than a ramp up of subsequent promotion after the trade show closes. It’s best if the marketing plan starts in the pre-production phase, time-lined in months before the trade show commences. If the energy of the efforts break like a wave at the time of the event, then it may dissipate as your team takes a needed breath, and starts planning the next initiative. Here are some preshow digital marketing strategy tips that will give you a jump-start on your show:
Promote your Booth: Get your booth number ingrained in your audience’s minds and make it a booth that they need to visit.
Promote your Booth with Blogs: Blogs are a fun and easy way to promote your booth while informing your customers about what to expect when they visit your exhibit.
Press Releases: Distributing a press release is an effective way to reach a wider audience and let them know about your participation at the show.
Prepare Digital Versions of Your Marketing Materials: In our digital age, some show-goers get downright mad if you try to offer them (gasp!) printed material. While it’s true that plenty of people still prefer printed collateral, and the industry tends to influence this as well, having high-quality digital versions ensures everyone is happy.
Use Video: Take the opportunity to create engaging video content. Get footage of keynote speakers. Interview prospects. Get footage of testimonials from current clients who are also in attendance.
The After-Party: Now that the show is over, it's time to make that content work for you. If you took any videos over the course of the trade show that weren't used for immediate turn around, it is time to start editing. These kinds of videos don't have to be fancy, and it is even better if they are shot on-location with the event backdrop. Throw a summary together in writing, yourself tons of great video blogs.
Customized Email Invitations: Everyone loves receiving a personalized invitation. Drafting email invites to your current and prospective clients not only makes them feel appreciated, but it helps you get the word out by customizing your message.
Follow Up on Leads: The great thing about trade shows: The people who visit your booth are most likely looking for solutions and could be the source of new business for you. Have your response follow-up emails prepared and ready to go. Just be sure to customize them with the person’s name and include specifics on your discussion and their needs. Never send out a cookie-cutter follow-up. It makes the recipient feel unappreciated; as if they are just another person on your email list. And always thank them for visiting your booth.
For information on how to leverage digital marketing to grow your brand, feel free to get in touch!