Events represent a fantastic opportunity to connect with potential, as well as existing, customers. However, just showing up, without coordinating the event with your online marketing efforts, means you’re probably missing out on a ton of opportunities.
Buzzwords can often fall on dead ears due to their repeated use and abuse. But like the best clichés, they’re used for a reason. “Integration” is a marketing term that gets used over and over again because of its utmost importance. With events, it’s no different.
In our experience with manufacturing companies, we’ve found that trade shows represent a perfect example of the type of event where online marketing can be integrated with event marketing. Your comprehensive efforts should be broken into three parts: before, during, and after the event.
Before the event
For events, generating awareness should be relatively easy if you have all of your online marketing channels up and humming: your website, your blog, your social media platforms, and your email marketing are all valuable tools for pre-event marketing.
While blanket messaging can include simple calls to action for attendance, this is also a great opportunity to segment your communications. For example, on social media promotions and blog posts could lean toward attracting new customers with booth giveaways to the attendees who stop by. For a distributor you know is already attending the trade show, an email campaign could focus on providing specific booth location info and compelling business reasons to connect at the show, increasing the chance of creating a connection. Whether generating a lead or enhancing an existing relationship, there are an infinite number of ways to raise the visibility of your upcoming event through your online marketing channels.
During the event
At the tradeshow, your creativity can continue. Photo opportunities abound, and can be posted on your social media channels. Live-tweeting the event itself also raises visibility, and allows you to retweet or mention new customers, too. Adopting the event’s hashtag for tweets—or creating one of your own if it doesn’t already exist—will also let attendees know you’re there, or better yet, where to find you.
During the event it’s critical to think ahead, too. A trade show can be a great place to capture information from anyone who stops by your booth. Much like the premium offers on your website, before giving away a sample or entering a name for a drawing, make sure attendees sign up to join your email list, or subscribe to your blog. Up until the event and during you’ve been funneling people to your booth; but don’t forget to flip the strategy to capture contact info to start directing people back to your online marketing channels afterwards. That first point of contact at your trade show booth should be considered the first step in lead generation.
After the event
If you’ve done a great job of capturing information at your booth, you should have a slew of new leads to reach out to from—yep, you guessed it—all of your online marketing channels. If you’ve done a good job cataloging the event itself on all of your social media channels, these efforts will come across to your potential and existing customers as seamless.
A “nice to meet you” email could be accompanied by a premium offer, while a trade show recap is always a great blog post—especially one coupled with great photos of you with customers. Once again, if you’re segmenting your communications properly, this a group you can continue to reach across all channels—and one you can certainly reach out to when the next trade show rolls around.
These are just a few ideas of how to incorporate online marketing efforts with a big trade show. Really, the sky’s the limit, and even video could play an integral role once you’ve created an integrated approach. Like with many things in life, showing up is half the battle. But for events, just showing up—and not putting any thought into how you can integrate your marketing strategy—means you’re leaving a lot of opportunities on the trade booth table.
Are you getting the most marketing possible out of your events?
Diona is a senior Internet marketing consultant at Knowmad. Her areas of expertise include digital marketing strategy, project management, brand management, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion rate optimization, social media marketing and website design.