After investing thousands of pounds, sometimes even hundreds of thousands, some companies make the fatal mistake of concentrating ALL of their efforts and resources on the stand itself. Of course your stand needs to knock the socks off visitors, but if your customers and potential customers have no idea you’re exhibiting, how will you wow them?
Rule number one: let people know you are exhibiting. You could have the best exhibition stand in the world but unless it’s heaving with the right people, you’re not going to get the maximum return on your investment.
Using social media is a great, and relatively inexpensive (the platforms are free but resourcing it isn’t) way of getting the word out, yet so many exhibitors fail to utilise its power. These companies are missing a trick; social media is your friend.
The show’s organisers are likely to use various means of social media to market their event, but don’t leave it all up to them. Get online and make your own mark. Connect with them and complement their messages, but have your own presence too and target the people you want to meet on your stand.
To start, choose the channels that will work for your company and that are relevant to the industry you’re working in. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are the key players but don’t invest in them all just because they’re free to use and available. Ask yourself: are they relevant to your business, the show you’re attending and the audience you are trying to connect with? Be smart and be selective.
Once you’ve chosen what channels you’re going to focus on, you need to consider how exactly you will use them.
For maximum impact, you’ll need a dedicated social media marketing campaign. This can be done in house if you’ve got the know-how or there are plenty of specialist agencies that you could employ.
The beauty of digital marketing is that there are no set rules; you can be as creative as you see fit. However, there are a few things to keep in mind and they are as follows:
Be Consistent And Post Frequently
If you’re going to go down this route, you need to commit fully. There’ no point posting a photo of your exhibition stand on opening morning and hoping for the best. There needs to be a pre-show build-up in order to get your followers excited. Inform them of all the reasons why they should be visiting you at your trade show; make your stand their first stop as they enter the exhibition hall. Once you’ve created a pre-show buzz and you’re on everyone’s radar, you can concentrate on posting during the course of the event. Unfortunately, this can sometimes take a back seat as trade shows can be hectic and all hands are needed on deck. Don’t let all of your efforts up until this point go to waste; make arrangements to dedicate time to engaging online with those at the show and those who couldn’t make it.
When the stand passes its final inspection, take a photo and post it, letting everyone know where to head when the doors to the exhibition hall open.
To add to the fun of it all, try some live streaming. Stream a talk or a tour, host a live Q&A – this will help to boost engagement, make your brand accessible and allow those who couldn’t attend to connect regardless.
Then, throughout the duration of the trade show, let people know what’s going on. Are you running competitions? Are you handing out free cupcakes? Whatever it is, don’t be shy; let them know.
When the show’s over and the last of the stand is dismantled and on the lorry, engagement shouldn’t stop. You want to keep the momentum going; keep people talking. Ask for feedback, use the popular #TBT hashtag along with a photo of your busy stand, to remind everyone what a fantastic event it was. Use it as an opportunity to sell whatever it was you were revealing at the show by posting live links and driving traffic back to your website.
Decide what information you need to get out there and keep reinforcing it (in a non-harassing kind of way). For a business attending a trade show, the things to include are:
- Name of the show
- Dates and times
- Stand number
- Details of the product of services you’ll be presenting
The rest will be specific to each exhibitor. For example, if you’ve booked a celebrity chef to demonstrate a new cooking appliance, make sure the world and his wife knows how they can grab a front row seat.
Ensure Two-Way Engagement
It’s not all about you. It’s about building a relationship with your customers and those all-important future customers. It’s about starting conversations and responding to comments, questions and queries.
Be prompt with your responses and don’t leave anyone hanging. If you receive a message asking for your stand number, use it as an opportunity to book them in for a personal tour. Make an appointment with them or tell them you’re excited to meet them but whatever you do, don’t ignore them.
Establish a hashtag or two for the show and use it, consistently, before during and after. Put it on all of your printed marketing material too. This way, you can monitor who’s saying what about your business. An example of a simple but effective hashtag could be #MxLatConfex (see you there!).
A picture tells a thousand words. Try and post high quality, interesting images of your stand, videos of demos and anything else that will excite the eye.
Collaboration Is Key
You’re not an island. Connect with the organiser, the venue, the celebrity speakers, share relevant content and create a network of like-minded bodies that will contribute to building the buzz.
Monitor And Evaluate
You need to keep track of what people are saying. Hopefully it will all be positive and you can repost their messages of support and excitement but if anything negative is spotted, you need to be able to react quickly. You may want to put the record straight or correct some misinformation. With social media, there’s always the potential for criticism but in this digital era, it’s better to be part of the conversation than to be oblivious to it.
All feedback is essential; make sure you’ve got the manpower to monitor and move on it.
When this particular social media campaign is over and you’re on to the next, make sure you spend some time evaluating its successes and where you could improve next time. There are lots of ways you can pull analytics. All of the platforms have free built-in tools and there are other handy free services like Sum All that can help you with all sorts of reporting, such as what posts were best received, who exactly was liking what and so forth.