There are plenty of marketing experts and bloggers who will have you believe that trade shows are all but dead and that it is a waste of money to put up an exhibition at your industry’s leading trade shows. They think it is an outdated practice and that a business has nothing to gain from it. In reality, however, trade shows are still very alive and businesses can gain a lot by exhibiting at such events.
However, this does not mean that it is not time to update the practices and start using the available technology to improve the exhibitions and to enhance the trade show experience. One of the ways in which you can easily do this is by using social media to make your trade show display more attractive and more effective in engaging potential customers as well as partners.
Prior to the trade show
Even before the trade show that you exhibit at begins, it is time to start using the social media. You need to decide what your trade show exhibit will concentrate on and what you will be doing at the trade show. You can then start flooding the social media with the news about the trade show, as well as about what you will be doing at this specific trade show.
Perhaps you will be giving out promotional material, perhaps you will come out with some great deals on your services and products, perhaps you have new products that you wish to introduce to your potential customers. In any case, it is absolutely essential that you let everyone know about it using social media. Twitter and Facebook are great for this as they are free and they can give you great exposure, especially if you network with the trade show organizers.
Another way to approach this is to talk to a consulting firm like Global Consulting which can help you come up with an online reputation approach which will be translated to your trade show efforts. This way you can really ensure that your pre-trade show social media efforts will be focused and effective.
During the trade show
Many trade show leaders and teams forget about social media once the actual trade show begins. This is a huge mistake. This is actually the perfect time to start going hard at the social media. For instance, you can Tweet that the next 20 people who visit your amazing exhibition displays will get something for free, or even a money reward. This will spread like wildfire and you will have people rushing to your stands.
You can also set up fancy new iPad displays where you can have your YouTube videos playing, telling people more about your company, your products and services. You can also instantly put up best photos from your booth on Facebook, for instance, and people can see them instantly. It is all about making people aware that you are exhibiting and that they will have great times at your booth.
After the trade show
Once the trade show is over, it is time to analyze your results and see what you might have done better. Do not be afraid to ask people outright what they thought about your display and your booth. Ask them if they thought perhaps that your competition did something better. Keep your ear to the ground and see what people are saying about the entire trade show and everyone who was involved.
You should also stay in contact with people who visited your trade show as a result of your social media efforts and turn them into your (un)willing brand ambassadors. Invite people to tag themselves in the photos from your booth, let them know that you are still there and that this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship to quote Rick Blaine from Casablanca.
Even though trade shows are considered a very traditional form of marketing and promoting a certain brand and a business, this does not mean that they cannot be combined with something as new and as fresh as social media. It is often that you will find the combination of old and new works great for brand promotion.