Why do you invest in trade show marketing? Probably because you believe that’s the best way to connect with many potential customers in your target market. After all, there are thousands of them in the same place at the same time. What could be a better opportunity?
So why are your trade show results so disappointing? You spend tens of thousands on a booth, travel expenses and marketing materials, and often walk away with few quality leads and little if any return on your investment.
The truth is, trade show marketing has changed in recent years. You’ll no longer get the results you expect by merely signing up for a booth and sending a few salespeople to sit there and wait for prospects to come by.
Never fear: there is a secret weapon that can help you capitalize on that golden trade show opportunity and get high quality leads into your sales funnel. It’s called inbound marketing.
How inbound can boost your trade show ROI
Inbound is a proven marketing strategy that targets people who are already interested in the solution you’re selling. Why waste your time and money blasting your message to people who have no interest in what you do? Inbound helps the right people find you using helpful content, published on your website and promoted through social media, which addresses your prospects’ needs and concerns.
An inbound marketing strategy is particularly well suited to boosting your trade show marketing efforts. That’s because inbound is designed to build awareness among interested prospects, capture leads, and drive qualified traffic to your booth.
Read on to learn more about how it works.
Creating your inbound marketing plan
Any inbound marketing campaign starts with a carefully planned strategy. Without getting too long-winded here, these are the essential steps:
- Gather buyer intelligence
This is critical: you must learn as much as you possibly can about your ideal prospects. Especially what they need, the issues they face and their buying process. TIP: you can learn a great deal from the behavior of visitors on your website.
- Set your goals
What do you want to achieve at the show? Generate new, qualified leads? Attract more prospects into your sales funnel by growing social, blog or email following? Be specific with your goal targets.
- Develop your strategy
Create a strategic plan that includes the content you need to create, the right mix of content types, the channels for publishing, and how you’ll nurture leads through the sales funnel.
- Implement your plan before, during and after the show
Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for: putting your plan into action. That’s going to begin well in advance of the show and continue well after everybody goes home. In the following section, we’ll share some ideas for the types of tactics that are effective for driving trade show results.
- Measure your results
This is one of the best things about inbound marketing: you can easily measure the results of your campaign using the right tools. No more wondering if your marketing is making an impact. You can identify results like leads and sales generated, as well as content views and gains in social following.
6 proven ideas for using inbound to boost trade show results
To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here are a few examples of specific inbound tactics that can drive qualified traffic and significantly boost your trade show ROI.
1. Create a show-specific call-to-action and website landing page
Every one of your marketing tactics for the show should be focused on a particular prospect call-to-action, such as signing up for a product demo. Create a show-specific landing page on your website for this purpose: to offer some enticing content that prospects want in exchange for their contact information.
2. Blog about your prospects’ pain points
In advance of the show, produce some content that shows prospects you understand the problems they face. Even better, set yourself up as a thought leader by discussing trending industry topics of interest. Don’t turn on the hard sell just yet: your content should be helpful but not too salesy. That content will drive interested prospect to your landing page.
3. Send targeted emails
Engage your contacts, as well as lists of registered attendees, with targeted emails that give them a compelling reason to visit your booth. Highlight your speaking engagements, planned events and presentations. Offer an incentive (like entry into a contest to win a prize) for attendees who book meetings and product demos in advance.
Make it easy for them to find you by including pictures of your booth and team members.
4. Create compelling show events
Speaking of events, this is another benefit of knowing your target audience: you can schedule briefs, demos and presentations about specific topics you know they care about. Here’s another traffic generator: get industry experts at your booth for a video interview or live podcast.
5. Promote with social
Before, during and after the show, let your prospects know what’s happening at the show, and invite them to join in the conversation (using the show’s hashtag or your own unique hashtag). That includes not only your own events, but sharing major industry news and trending issues as well.
6. Follow up on leads with actionable offers
After the show, follow up is key. Your inbound buyer intelligence helps you do it effectively by providing offers that are valuable to your prospects. Your communications should encourage them to act by giving them exactly what they need at the right time. Here’s an example: how about a content asset that makes it easier for attendees to evaluate the solutions they saw at the show? Equipping your sales teams with tools like this that can help them identify and focus on the hottest leads.
Are you ready to make your next trade show an unqualified success? Don’t wait too long to get started. By now, you have probably realized that this is not a marketing campaign you can throw together in a few days. Ideally, you’ll want to begin working on your inbound marketing campaign at least a few months prior to the big show.
Find out more about inbound marketing and how to put it to work for your company download our guide Inbound Marketing: The Key To Accelerating Your Company’s Growth