Centuries ago, merchants traveled from town to town to display their goods and products, create awareness, and initiate sales. Today it is much different. Brands devote a large portion of their yearly marketing budgets to participate in mega-events, often at the largest convention centers in major cities. There are currently over 10,000 trade shows each year in the United States, and many more internationally. Logistically, it is a major undertaking that involves many team members, in a variety of necessary important roles. It is also extremely costly to participate.
If you are a vendor at a trade show, the smartest strategy is to maximize the positive results for your brand. 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.
We spoke with both Andy Groller, VP of Digital Advertising, and James Kravic, Director of PPC at DragonSearch in NY to get their overview for what trade show participants could do in 2017 to optimize their efforts and create a sales funnel trajectory that goes beyond their anticipated goals.
Here’s their recommendations.
Beyond the Trade Show Walls
Groller and Kravic both agree that the expectations of a company participating in a trade show should be to:
- Increase awareness for their brand
- Create a buzz for their trade show tie-in of new product launches
- Deliver and amplify desired messaging
Kravics feels that, “The entire branding and marketing campaign is best when laid out beforehand, and comprehensive in scope to include the promotion of any awards or acclaim received during the trade show, nurturing prospective dealers, and insuring a more powerful magnetic bond with ones already affiliated.”
In addition, Groller adds, “As the show packs up, now is the time for follow-up that is related to the ‘theme’ at the show booth, to potential customers who’s badge was scanned or contact information was acquired in other ways. Once entered into the CRM, there are vast opportunities for personal outreach, and as additional marketing data is collected, it will direct how subsequent outreach is revised and re-targeted – driving customers deeper into the sales funnel, and ultimately to a conversion.”
For Trade Show marketing, a triple-tiered approach is logical, and can be seamlessly integrated. Partnering with a digital marketing agency ensures that:
- Pre-show creative marketing kicks in with enough lead time to hit the identified potential within the strategy, and meet your goals
- All the day to day social media, brand awareness, and digital outreach/networking activity is covered – and professionally done. Since your agency is not involved with the actual logistics of the trade show, they can devote full bandwidth to supportive activity, keeping continuity going in every aspect of the brand’s daily promotions, taking receipt of images and videos in real time, and creating engaging content for every stage of the trade show participation.
- Post-show, the promotional message continues, following new contacts and influencers, sharing the messaging, constantly revising and changing digital marketing ads that promote your trade show highlights, featured products, and new product launches.
The question was also posed to Groller and Kravic as to what can a digital marketing agency do that a PR company cannot. The simple answer was that, “We know how to sell – and bring the campaign through the mid and bottom funnel content that expedites and compels the customer journey to conversions for the brand.”
Digital marketing today has transitioned more and more to a full feature composite effort as opposed to singular marketing components. Because there are so many things online trying to capture attention, breakthrough tactics are desired. A blend of organic and paid tactics is wise. It is always best to create a customized approach. That being said, for trade shows, some of the specific elements are:
- Pre-show identification of influencers / evaluating their social presence / initiating outreach in stages / often offering something of value in return / with the goal of attaining affirmations from industry leaders or appropriate press that potential customers read
- Ensuring that the brand’s social networks and Google properties are ready for action / optimized and following best practices / continuity of messaging and imagery / technically functioning at full efficiency
- Organic social posting geared to the brand’s following / creating awareness and excitement / sparking brand evangelists
- Directing contests or give-a-ways before, during and after the actual show / making participants feel ‘special’ – part of a group of similar folks, and part of the brand
- Initiating and managing a successful paid advertising campaign that includes the most appropriate social media networks / research driven to target audiences / using analysis of metrics to influence an agile campaign constantly monitored and revised accordingly
- Email marketing that has multi-components / creatively incorporating a results driven process to move your acquired contacts through the sales funnel
- Creating and promoting engaging and resourceful content for each sales funnel stage, with CTA’s that expedite movement towards conversions
- Tracking / A/B testing / repurposing content / amplifying items of interest
What is Your Brand’s Trade Show Calendar for This Year?
If you desire to share your 2017 trade show calendar with the marketing team at DragonSearch, we can map out a collaborative trade show marketing strategy, in a timeline, with a goal of positioning you ahead of your competitor’s efforts. It’s best to have the voice of your brand resonating with the most volume – not just within the trade show venue walls – but throughout the digital world where both the customers, and influencers you want to connect with, spend most of their day.
Start it all with a conversation. In a partnership you can focus on all the trade show logistics and inter-show festivities that you do best, and the digital marketing agency can add their skills and bandwidth into the mix.
Given the enormous amount of effort, money and staff involved in your brand’s trade show participation, it makes sense to do it in a way that will maximize success, and have marketing longevity way after your team settles back into their home base.