Although manufacturers exhibit at fewer tradeshows now than in the past, and engineers attend fewer, tradeshows can still be a very effective marketing tactic if exhibitors tweak their marketing approach.
For exhibitors, tradeshows offer visibility in a market, an opportunity to meet prospective buyers and a chance to keep tabs on competitors. In addition, according to a recent survey by TREW Marketing and IEEE GlobalSpec, 86 percent of engineers say that tradeshows are a somewhat or very valuable source for seeking information on the latest engineering technologies, industry trends and products or services.
However, this is the digital age, and manufacturers must use digital tactics before, during and after tradeshows in order to achieve success and produce positive ROI from a traditional and often resource-intensive marketing program.
Generate Pre-show Momentum
Give prospects a reason to seek you out at a tradeshow by building excitement about your presence.
- Create show-specific display ads to run on industrial sites. This will make your brand highly visible and give potential attendees a reason to visit your exhibit.
- Use advertisements in targeted industrial e-newsletters to announce the tradeshow. This is great way to connect with a hard-to-reach audience that is not part of your house list yet may be interested in meeting you.
- Email your internal list on multiple occasions leading up to the tradeshow, giving prospects an opportunity to register and make travel plans.
- Reach out via email to individual customers/prospects, bloggers, influencers and media professionals. Try to set up one-on-one meetings at the tradeshow with the most important people.
- Announce your upcoming tradeshow presence on your website. Include a form for those who’d like to request a meeting.
- Post to all of your social media accounts that you will be exhibiting at the tradeshow. Promote the benefits of attending and give your audience reasons to stop by your booth, such as hands-on opportunities with your products or a special presentation.
At the Show
Tradeshows used to be places where prospects collected brochures and other content. Now all of that information is available online on your website. Today, tradeshows are all about engagement and building community.
- Make sure all of your booth staff are trained regarding your goals for the show.
- Use digital data capture capabilities on site for gathering prospect information for post-show follow-up.
- Continuously run a video in your exhibit space. This doesn’t have to be a one-time-use video. You can also post the video on your website and link to it from emails and social media to get extra return on your investment.
- Take digital photos—lots of them—and identify the people in each shot. A great follow-up after the show is to send your prospect of photo of themselves with people from your team.
- Use social media during the show to post updates and share the experience. Shows will often have their own hashtag to use.
- Make sure you have a comfortable space to conduct face-to-face meetings, either within your exhibit area or in a convenient space nearby.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your marketing efforts are over when the tradeshow ends. Often, your marketing is just getting into gear.
- Quickly follow-up via email with everyone you met at the show to say thank you for visiting your booth. Offer links to exclusive content related to the show, including educational information such as white papers and articles as well as fun stuff such as event photos and videos.
- Segment or score your attendee list into prospects who deserve immediate attention you’re your sales team and those who belong in your lead nurturing program.
- That video you premiered at the tradeshow? Make sure it’s posted on your website and other platforms where prospects can view it.
- Follow-up with any contacts you made with media professionals, bloggers or other influencers. Remind them of what you spoke about. Try to make appointments with those you’ve missed so you can pitch your story.
Despite the time, resources and person-power required to exhibit, tradeshows can still be an effective marketing program. Just make sure to integrate your efforts with digital market at all phases: pre-show, on-site and post-show.