Four Tips for a Successful Trade Show (Hint: Use Social Media)

Awesome Trade ShowIt is a social media world out there, but it’s also important to make connections IRL (In Real Life). For many, handshakes and eye contact are necessary for building trust and creating a strong client base. Trade Shows are one of the best ways to network and create relationships in person, and are still a critical part of a successful B2B or B2C marketing campaign. Trade shows give you the chance to market your products to the vendors and consumers who can truly make a difference to your bottom line. Trade shows that include a social media plan can spread that relationship building from real life to digital. If you’re planning to attend a trade show, here are four things to keep in mind.

Network

Most exhibitors focus on marketing to the attendees of a trade show, but don’t forget to network with the other vendors as well. Does the business owner in the booth next to you have shelf space in his shop that you can use at a discount? Does the person behind you have a complimentary product? Can you partner together for referrals? Arrive early, set up your booth quickly, and network with the other exhibitors before the crowds arrive.

Pay Attention to the Booth Experience

Forbes narrows down a successful performance at a trade show to one thing: the booth. You will be surrounded by booths that are full of interactive, multimedia equipment and expensive furnishings. However, you don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to compete with these flashy displays. A portable banner stand displays your logo and a business description to anyone who walks by your booth. These stands are an effective and professional alternative to more expensive designs.

Entice attendees to cross the threshold with giveaways or fun activities in your booth. Once you have them, make sure that you keep them. You need your most articulate sales team on hand, as they are just as critical as having the right decorations. Your sales team needs to simultaneously convince every single person who enters your booth that they need your product while also appearing low key and not pushy.

Find the Right Show

Virtually anyone can put on a trade show. Before handing your hard earned money over to a random show producer, investigate the options. Is the show affiliated with a professional organization? What was last year’s attendance? How will the show benefit you? If the show producer can’t answer those questions satisfactorily, you shouldn’t buy a booth.

Use Social Media Strategically

Trade shows may be as old school as an ancient marketplace, but there’s no reason to ignore modern technology while you are there. Business marketing analyst Scott Monty explains that social media should be an integral part of your trade show plan. Use your social media accounts to build awareness and excitement around the show. Plug giveaways and convince your followers that they need to visit your booth. Before the show, find out if there is an official hashtag and begin participating. Also, create your own hashtag to promote your contest or your conversations and include it as well.

If you have a strong following on these networks, you may even be able to trade some marketing in exchange for a reduced booth fee or a complimentary sponsorship. Partnering with the show producer in mutually beneficial ways can be a critical part of trade show success.

What are your tips for a successful trade show? Let me know in the comments.

Contributed by Terrance Perez

Terrance is a motivational speaker and community activist. He loves to blog about local issues.

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About Sue Reynolds
Sue Reynolds is the founder and owner of Carmine Media, a web and social media consultancy. She is the manager of social media and web design at R+L Carriers, where she works with businesses and non profits to build their web presence and nurture brand loyalty.

4 Responses to Four Tips for a Successful Trade Show (Hint: Use Social Media)

  1. Nice acticle Sue! I am actually planning to attend a trade show as a visitor. With business cards in tow, I want to make a great impression at each of the vendors’ booths. I hope to form lasting bonds and future business. Your blog entry gave me some great advice that will enhance my visit and help achieve my goals.

  2. Christy says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Sue, thanks for the post. We do live in a technology and social media driven world but having personal contact, communication, and empathy with potential consumers and clients is essential. We shouldn’t forget there are people behind the profiles and must connect with them face to face sometimes to truly understand their needs and pains. Trade Shows are a fantastic and readily available way to make this happen.

  3. Great blog Sue. Just as what Christy have said, we’re living in the social media age. Exhibitors especially startups should consider including social media in their pre-show, on-show and post-show marketing campaign for a more successful exhibiting.

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