Traditionally, trade shows are often considered an outbound method of marketing and lead generation.
In fact, when most people think trade shows, they’re often flooded with visions of cell phone kiosks at the mall, complete with salesmen tossing pamphlets and spitting sales pitches at them at rapid pace.
But they don’t have to suck.
Inbound marketing is all about people coming to you. It’s not about spamming people and chasing them away. It’s about creating content that attracts people and makes them want to learn more about your company.
Most trade show booths do the opposite; push the marketing message and hope for a return.
If your idea of unique and different is branded pens and keychains...stop it. You're better than that.
Check out the SlideShare for tips on the key to being remembered at your next trade show.
The foundation for making your trade show inbound is creating a unique campaign built around the show itself. You don’t want to reuse an old marketing campaign; instead, come up with something new and fresh that ties your value proposition into what you’re trying to accomplish at the show.
Release corresponding ebooks, blog posts, and create social media teasers in order to create buzz prior to the event.
2. Be Remarkable
What’s everyone else expected to do at the trade show? Don’t do that.
You need to stand out at the trade show among the other businesses. There will be rows upon rows of other vendors, all with similar booth setups. Sure, there’ll be a company logo. A table with some smiling faces handing out pamphlets and key chains. How cool. And boring.
How can you grab someone’s attention, and be the one that everyone is left talking about?
3. Create an Awesome Experience
An experience shouldn’t be intrusive.
If you’re pushing marketing collateral, or even worse, a sale on attendees, they’re going to feel more like they’re passing a cell phone kiosk at the mall rather than an engaging trade show booth.
In order to have meaningful conversations and make valuable connections, introduce a little context into the experience.
4. Be Web Friendly
It’s important to always market a trade show with your website in mind. After all, consumers take to the Internet when researching products or services of interest.
While a trade show is all about networking and connecting in person, the overall goal should be to drive people back to your website. That’s where the true value lies.
Since you’ve already built your entire trade show booth around a new, original offer, your focus should be to drive everyone who stops by your booth to its corresponding landing page.
Consider your audience. What level of the buying process will they be at? You want your offer to be consistent with this.
5. Enable On-Site Lead Generation
In order to fully integrate inbound marketing into your next trade show, it’s critical that you’re able to generate leads on-site.
No more of this polite yet cold exchange of business cards (although this does still hold value). Don’t count on people calling you back or even remembering who you are in order to experience an ROI from your trade show efforts.
Remember, they’re going to be leaving with a stack of business cards, with intent of maybe connecting with a small fraction of them.
Develop the relationship on the spot.
“If you’d like, we can enter your name and email and have the exclusive offer sent over to you right away to check out later tonight.”
Utilize technology. Bring an iPad. If nothing else, come equipped with a laptop. You’re much more likely to develop a relationship if you have something scheduled or downloaded on the spot.
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