How to Squeeze Every Last Drop Out of Your Next Tradeshow
It’s that time of year again…The Divvy camp is gearing up for tradeshow season! If you’ve been in the marketing game a while, you’ve probably stumbled upon plenty of articles from disgruntled marketers proclaiming that physical events just don’t have as much bang as they used to. Phooey. They’re not doing it right.
We love attending and exhibiting at industry conferences and there’s no question that the return outweighs the investment. So in an effort to “drink our own Kool-Aid” (and give myself a refresher), I thought this might be a good opportunity to provide you with some of our personal best practices that we’ve used for years to squeeze every last drop of relationship-building goodness out of your tradeshow/conference participation.
DivvyHQ’s 10 Pre-show, On-site and Post-show Promotional Tips
1. Work the Social Angles – Check out the conference website and look for their existing social media properties. If the show has established social properties/communities (FB page, LinkedIn groups, community forums, etc.), look for ways to join in the conversation. Don’t be scared to “put it out there” that you will be at the show and looking forward to connecting with folks who fit your (buyer) profiles.
2. #SocialButterfly – Find out the official Twitter/Facebook hashtag for the show. Start monitoring that and contributing to the stream of conversation. Put your social butterfly hat on and meet as many people (virtually) as you can before the show. Offer to meet people for coffee, lunch, dinner or an adult beverage after the show. Set up meetings or personal demos if applicable.
Important note…Since you might be meeting these people in person, it is best to facilitate this engagement through the personal Twitter/Facebook profile of the staff member(s) that will be attending the event. Don’t do all this via a generic brand page or Twitter account. But make sure your personal bio ties directly back to your company (website, demo video, etc.).
3. Customer Meetups – At a minimum, make sure to tell your customers (in some fashion) that you’re going to be attending certain shows. (Divvy customers, see the bottom of this post). Face-time with customers at events can really build loyalty, so make yourselves available and make that time productive (impromptu focus group, video testimonial?).
4. Prep & Promote a “Show-Only Deal” – If your product or service lends itself, figure out some sort of special offer that will be available only to attendees. Tease the offer in any pre-show promos or sponsor ads that are often included with your exhibitor/sponsor package.
During the Show
5. Tweet Away, Merrill – You can hit some serious home runs by using Twitter for real-time engagement at a conference. I typically use a corporate twitter account to tweet interesting insights gleaned from speakers/sessions. Then I use my personal account to retweet and reply to interesting nuggets that others have tweeted. Don’t forget to use the show’s Twitter hashtag. If you keep up a steady pace of high-quality, insightful tweets from both personal and corporate twitter accounts throughout the show, you’ll get a nice bump in both new followers, corporate brand awareness and people wanting to connect with you/your staff physically.
6. Photos (and now video)! This is definitely the one that our team needs to improve upon. It’s never been easier to grab your phone and capture the experience of the show with photos and video via Instagram. Use the show hashtag (or find out if the show/organization has a specific Instagram hashtag) and post the photos to both Twitter and to your corporate FB page. All this acts as great, visual, behind-the-scenes content. If you take pictures with other attendees, tag/mention them.
7. Download “Evernote Hello” App for iPhone/Android – If you’re really “working” a show, you’ll inevitably start to amass a large stack of business cards (badge scanners don’t count). And if you’re not a dedicated sales person, the size of the stack may actually deter you from following up with all those people. Kinda counterintuitive. Instead, use Evernote Hello, a really cool app that not only allows you to photo scan the cards and capture their contact info, but it also automagically emails that person your contact info and sends them a LinkedIn connection request. Trust me…When you do this during the show as you’re meeting people, they will remember you and they’ll be uber-impressed with your tech-savviness.
8. Follow-Up While It’s Fresh – Immediately follow up on any noteworthy opportunities as soon as you get back in the office. Go through your list of business cards and connect with anyone (via social) that you might have missed. If you use Google Apps/Gmail for email, leverage the Rapportive extension to locate each contact’s social accounts simply by entering in their email address. This engages Rapportive’s API connections, shows you all of their social profiles and you can connect with them right within Gmail.
9. Post-show Promotions – Is there a promotion that you can provide to show connections or attendees? If you have a list, import that into your email marketing platform and get an email out. Don’t let too much time pass. They’ll forget about you if you wait too long.
10. Do a Show Recap Blog Post – These days, it’s pretty common to see companies live-blogging and/or live-tweeting during a conference. If you have the staff that can crank out good play-by-play, by all means, do it. If not, at least try to get a solid blog post up a day or two after the show that recaps key learnings, funny stories or fun photos/videos from the show. Event organizers will often find these posts and give you some love via their social properties, which never hurts!
When you really work a show, you are going to see plenty of bang.