Until about two years ago, I was what is called today, a traditional marketer. I was responsible for a wide range of things. My days were filled with things like writing case studies and ad copy, branding initiatives, graphics support, direct mail campaigns, anything and everything associated with the website…the list goes on and on.
One of my favorite things from my life as a traditional marketer is trade show coordination. I love everything about it. From planning how things will look to executing pre and post show activities to working with staff to target specific attendees…I love it all.
The question is does making the transition to inbound marketing mean that I have to leave trade shows behind?
At Imagine, we believe strongly in the positive impact inbound marketing can have on demand generation. Additionally, (if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know this) Imagine believes that outbound tactics are a huge part of the success equation. In fact, Doug coined the term “allbound” to describe the approach we believe in.
Trade shows are one of those things that exclusive inbound marketers cast aside as an outbound tactic that is no longer effective. However, there are still many organizations from all types of industries who are having great success with trade shows.
For many, trade shows deliver leads not only at the top of the funnel but also in the middle and the bottom. They also provide an excellent opportunity to build awareness, launch new products, establish thought leadership and meet with prospects and customers.
Taking an inbound approach doesn’t mean you have to abandon the traditional tactics that are having a positive impact on your demand generation efforts. However, giving them an inbound spin may make them even more effective.
Here are four ways you can “inbound” your trade show efforts.
1. Take advantage of social media
If you’re an inbound marketer, you know the role social media plays in your success. It can also play an important role in trade show marketing before, during and after the event.
Before the show, use your social media accounts to promote your booth. Let your audience know where you’ll be and what they can expect when they stop by. If you’re having a contest or a booth give-away, let your audience know. Follow your prospects, the show organizers and even your competition. Use the established hashtags but also create your own.
Also, don’t be shy. If there are attendees you have targeted, reach out to them individually on social media. Engage in conversations.
During the show, live tweet from your booth. Start during set-up. Use lots of images and post them to all of your accounts with updates. If you will be presenting during the show, publish reminders. You can even use the “live” options available in some platforms to share exactly what is going on at any given time.
After the show, share via social media things you learned or more photos. If you write a blog post that recaps the event, promote it. Keep the conversations that started because of the show, going.
2. Build landing pages
Landing pages are a key component of all inbound campaigns. They are a true inbound tactic. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be used to make an outbound tactic more effective.
At a minimum, build at least one landing page that provides information about the show and offers that will appeal to your target audience for the event. Be sure to include top, middle and bottom of funnel offers and provide at least some context for each one.
If you’ll be holding a contest at the show, use a landing page as a way for people to register before the event. Include information about the show, a form they can complete to register and details about how the prizes will be awarded.
Be creative with landing pages. Depending on your specific goals and audience, landing pages could have many trade show related uses.
For all landing pages, share the links via social media, blog posts or through email marketing. You can also incorporate signage and other printed materials into your promotion plan.
3. Nurture your attendees
If you’ve adopted an inbound marketing approach, then you are using a marketing automation platform. Take advantage of it when building your post-show strategy.
Don’t wait until the show ends to build your nurture workflows. Before the show starts, know how you’re going to segment your leads, what offers you’re going to share and determine the cadence for outreach.
If you need to create new offers specific to the show’s audience, that must be complete before the show begins. Also, emails should be written. Starting the post-show nurture should be as easy as making a tweak or two and clicking start.
Additionally, if your SDRs will be making calls (we recommend that they do), meet with them before the show so they understand who they will be calling and what they will be sharing.
4. Define what will be measured
I’ve said it before and will probably say it again, one of the greatest things about inbound marketing is the ability to measure results of marketing efforts.
Your marketing automation platform will be able to provide a lot of information about your trade show-generated leads. When you build your trade show strategy, define the metrics that matter and be prepared to track them.
Trade shows are a significant investment. It is important to understand the kind of impact they are having – or not having. Your overall trade show strategy will be impacted dramatically by the data that can be measured and provided to leadership.
Adopting an inbound approach doesn’t mean you have to give up all of the traditional tactics that have been effective in the past. In fact, inbound marketing and trade shows can work very effectively together. Before you throw in the towel on any outbound tactics, assess how they might actually be better when combined with inbound ideas.