How Inbound Marketing Can Help Maximize Your Trade Show Results

Inbound sales and inbound marketing enable you to create an entirely different trade show experience and will transform how you think about trade show marketing. The truth is that trade shows don’t execute themselves. You need to plan for your shows, and do so aggressively. 

That’s why you should consider an eight to 12 week planning period to get ready for an upcoming show. In addition to figuring out the logistics of the event, you'll want to focus on how to get more Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL's) to visit your booth.

When preparing, ask yourself some questions about what you hope to take away from the show. Specifically, how many leads will you need to get from the show to make it a winner from an ROI perspective? How many of those leads must close, and for how much revenue? How many per day? How many per exhibit session? This makes the event a fully quantitative exercise and takes subjectivity out of the equation.

You also need to know what your big story at the show is going to be, and how to use content to help deliver that message. Instead of handing out stress balls or pens, provide your visitors with an exclusive e-book that's only available at the event and that will never be available again. If they want the e-book, they have to register with you at the show. This way, you get leads that are actually interested in what you do, as opposed to just your promotional products.

Related: How to Help Your VP of Sales Achieve His or Her Numbers This Year and The 7 Rules for Evaluating and Selecting an Inbound Agency Partner

What To Do Pre-Show With Inbound Marketing

Hope is not a strategy. Waiting for people to show up and find their way to your booth is a recipe for underperformance. Instead, get access to the registrants, and make sure there is pre-show communication that highlights your educational offer. Create a short series of communications that lead up to the show. Build excitement by teasing the educational experience. Highlight your speaking event (because, you are speaking at the event, right?). Or draw attention to your educational offer or the education that your experts are going to provide during the event. Turn your participation into an opportunity instead of the standard “stop by and say hi” activity.

What To Do Post-Show With Inbound

Unfortunately, none of the work above means anything unless these leads turn into revenue. So, make sure you have a clear lead nurturing plan in place before you go to the show. As soon as the event is over, people get back into their routines, and they’re going to forget all about you. To prevent that, create a lead nurturing campaign that launches on the day the show ends. Think about the experience your new fans will have when they get an email from you with the follow-up you promised, plus some additional educational material. What about when they get another email one, two or three days later? And how about when you follow up again in a week to close out the conversation? I’ll answer that: They’re going to be impressed.

If you insist on going to trade shows and conferences, insist on putting an inbound strategy behind your investment. Here are 5 tips to help you plan and execute your trade show using the inbound marketing methodology.

  1. The marketing manger should know before booking the tradeshow what kind of personas are going to be attending the show. That way they can appropriately adjust their inbound marketing tactics leading up to the event to fit the types of individuals that will actually be present. This will in turn allow for more MQL’s to show up on trade show day.
  2. There needs to be at least 45 Days of social media posts prepared in advance of the tradeshow.
  3. Use tradeshow hashtags. This will help to improve the reach of your posts, which will allow more people who are planning on attending to read about your involvement in the show. Your Company should follow the tradeshow’s Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook accounts and be actively engaging with them before the start of and during the tradeshow. All the blogs prior to the tradeshow day (at least 30 days before) need to highlight that you will be in the tradeshow, and inform people of why they should attend.
  4. Create a CTA for each blog, landing page, social media post and eBook, that will take the visitor to your website to arrange a pre-booked meeting before coming to the tradeshow.
  5. There should be email campaigns sent to your existing prospect lists announcing that your company will be at that trade show. Let them know that you are pre-booking meetings, and perhaps consider some sort of special offer to get them to attend.
  6. Design a dedicated landing page for “progressive profiling” of whoever wants to pre-books meeting with you during the trade-show. This will catalogue what they are looking for, when they want to engage, and if they’re the decision maker. Find out what the big challenge they are facing is and why are they looking to your company. This information is gathered so your sales associate or marketing coordinator that meets with them during the trade show will be more prepared to act as a trusted advisor. This will also allow them to build a deeper relationship during the trade-show; instead of just giving some goodies or flyers away that will end up in the recycle bin after 48 hours. 

If you have a show coming up in less than a month, you’re probably too late. The worst thing you could do is rush it. But, if you have shows or events lined up for three months down the road, now is the perfect time to get an inbound marketing event plan in place.

Work out the schedule first. Start backwards from the day of the event, and plan your pre-show, in-show and post-show marketing tactics. Once the plan is complete, assign the individual tasks to your team or have your agency help with the implementation. The results should include doubling the leads gained from the event, and producing real revenue from your trade show program.

Thank you for reading our blog. Flawless Inbound is leading the full inbound marketing and inbound sales revolution. Talk to us today so that we can help revolutionize your marketing and sales process.