11 Ways to Integrate Content Into Your Trade Show Marketing Plan

by | Content Marketing

Trade shows are still leaned on heavily as a key source of leads for your sales team. You can also use them as part of your content marketing efforts, boosting traffic and leads in the process. Integrate these 11 tips into your trade show marketing plan.

Before we get to our tips, it should be noted that rumors of the death of trade shows have been greatly exaggerated.  While the data isn’t in on all of 2017, in 2016 the industry reported a very modest decline in overall growth in three sectors of -0.4%.

A very modest decline in overall growth.

Source: Trade Show News Network

Attendance dipped slightly by both attendees and exhibitors, but what’s stunning isn’t the slight dip.  It’s that these numbers come after 25 consecutive quarters of year-on-year growth.

That’s why trade shows are an important part of the marketing mix for many companies with a heavy sales force.  Corbin Ball, trade industry marketing guru, explained to us how new technologies are making trade shows more effective — and how this can sync up with your content marketing efforts.

Corbin Ball

Corbin Ball

Trade shows and meetings used to be the black hole of data collection management

Corbin Ball is an expert in the meetings industry on how to use technology to save time and improve productivity.  He’s seen how, in the past, “meetings used to be the black hole of data collection management.”

Meetings and trade shows have always been a great place for people to get together to network, exchange ideas, and discover new innovations. However, it has always been difficult for trade shows to deliver metrics to their attendees.

In the past, you didn’t have a means to count people, other than by “counting from rafters,” Ball said.  Now with mobile apps and beacons, the analytics tide has turned, and you can generate more usable marketing data from trade shows.

Beacons and mobile apps redefining marketing opportunity

Trade show technologies have undergone significant changes in the last decade, just like all facets of life.  The big game changers have been beacon technologies and mobile apps.

Beacons at trade shows can provide trade show coordinators information on what booths attendees tended to visit, how long that stood in front of or in the booth, and what types of information they shared.  In this expert interview, Ball describes how beacon technologies work.

Corbin Ball Interview

Mobile event apps are also having a profound effect. If the event has a mobile app, “every touch can be trackable,” Ball notes.  That means downloads, likes, surveys, pools — everything that occurs in a trade show can be tracked.  

Ball compares it to email marketing, in which click through rates and open rates can be tracked.  “You can apply the same techniques, and suck it back into the attendee’s record so that it becomes a really detailed profile for marketing,” he said.

For a complete list of lead tracking apps and software, click here and select “Lead Exchange – Tracking” from the index of Corbin’s Link List.  

How can you use content marketing as part of your trade show marketing?

Now that Corbin has given us the 10,000 foot view of new developments, let’s talk about a few ways a small marketing department can integrate a trade show into its content marketing efforts and take advantage of some of these technologies.  

1. Reach out to your current clients with a special offer email

Hopefully you have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place to capture the leads from the trade show. That will definitely come in handy after the show. However, you can also use your CRM before the show with your existing clients.

Create a special email, and send it out to your current clients, letting them know you’ll be at the trade show.  Provide them with a free one-on-one consultation if they stop by your booth, or give one of your products away through a drawing.  (And, of course, you could give away some swag!)

2. Highlight who will be attending the trade show from your company and increase your personalized branding

We mentioned in a previous post how important personalized branding is to your company.  Use an email to showcase the experts you’ll have at the booths, and share some of their background. You might spark a question among your customers or prospects on your mailing list.

3. Sponsor a presentation at the trade show and receive valuable backlinks

When you sponsor an event at the show, the trade show will likely give you the opportunity to add literature to the show — all of which can include valuable backlinks.

Not only do the backlinks help your SEO, the content you share pre-show can help build up your name to other attendees, and generate advance publicity for your booth.  

4. Use social media during the event to drive traffic to your booth and landing page

Social media, such as Twitter, is ideal for live events.  Use hashtags for the event, and tweet out notices of what’s happening in your booth.  Be sure to target people you want to meet with your tweets using the @ sign.  

Your social efforts should again be designed to get people to the booth to collect on your giveaway.  Again, the idea here is to walk away from the trade show with as many leads as possible.  

Use social to get people to your booth.

5. Interview an attendee before the show and write a post about them

This tactic can be used after the show, as well as before.  Go through the presenter list and look for names of presenters who will be discussing interesting topics.  You can interview them and write a blog post on their topic.  

Use the post to highlight when and where you’ll be at the show, and mention your special giveaway.  The person you’re interviewing will likely share the post on their own social media, thus promoting you in the process.

6. Allow people to register for an event with a mobile sign-up and automatically add them to your mailing list

This is all about building your lists, so make it very easy for people to sign up for your giveaway. Give them an easy URL they can use to sign up right from their cell phone. In the thank you email, you could let them know as a bonus you’ve added them to your newsletter list.

7. Do a follow-up post on highlights from the show, mentioning key influencers’ presentations

After the show, create a blog post in which you discuss your big takeaways from the trade show.  At each speaking event or workshop you attend, take notes and include big takeaways from the presentation.  

Be sure to include quotes from the presenter in your post, and then alert them via social media that you’ve included them in the post after the show.  They’ll share it — the power of collaborative content!

8. Follow-up with phone calls, emails and LinkedIn invites to new leads

“Only 20% of trade show leads are followed up on,” Corbin says. That’s a lot of leads that are going by the wayside, and hopefully you’ll be tying in your CRM using some of the technologies we mentioned earlier.

Only 20% of leads are follow up on

If it’s a hot lead, you’ll obviously want a salesperson to make a one-on-one phone call ASAP.  However, you can also send out a bulk email to all leads you gathered from the show, reminding them of a special offer or sharing links to your blog for more resource articles.

Your salespeople should be making a LinkedIn connection, so that as they share your company’s posts down the line, those leads will see them on their own stream.  Not all of the leads will turn into sales immediately – you’ve got to keep the lines of communication open.

9. Interview the show’s organizers for a wrap-up on attendance and big lessons learned

A great tactic for another inbound link is to help the show publicize the turnout and big takeaways.  They might be able to provide you with more links to free resources from other attendees, and they’ll also likely link to your post from their site.  Another backlink!

10. Follow those who followed the trade show on Twitter

Go to the organizer’s Twitter account, and check out the people who followed the show’s Twitter feed. Follow them, and, if the contact has something interesting, reach out to them for a blog post.  It can help generate new content and more inbound links.

You also could use this Twitter feed to generate ideas for a new post. “I’m putting together a post of big takeaways from the event.  Care to share one thing you learned?”  You may get some golden ones out of this, which you could compile into a post.

11. Create videos, podcasts and photos from the show

Everyone likes visuals, so use the show to boost your own visuals.  You can do some informal videos, or just take selfies.  Post them on Twitter and your LinkedIn feeds.

You can also use the videos to create a visual post:  “27 Great Visuals from the SnowBlower Show!”

Sales and marketing combine to make the most of your trade shows

Corbin has given us some great examples of how new trade show technologies can enhance all of these content marketing efforts.  It’s also a sign of how sales and marketing are finding new, effective ways to work together.

As we mentioned in a previous post with David Fisher, a trade show is a real opportunity for your sales team to become part of the content distribution network and position themselves as experts.  There is a role for your sales team in each of these efforts.

Trade shows aren’t slowing down — they’re simply being reinvented as one of the best ways to marry an offline and online presence.  It’s a win-win-win situation — for the trade show, for your company and for your new clients.


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Greg Mischio

Greg Mischio

Greg Mischio has been creating content for many moons. He is the Founder and CEO of Winbound, a sales and marketing agency that provides content and marketing services with a focus on manufacturing and industrial verticals.

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