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Five tactics to rock your next tradeshow event

We all know that marketing your business at a tradeshow is a significant investment. Factors like budget concerns, economic conditions and even technology can impact whether or not people are attending tradeshows.

Despite that, tradeshows are still a primary source of new leads and sales for a lot of companies. Being able to get as much exposure for your business is essential. There are several ways to increase the odds of generating quality leads and sales at your next tradeshow event.

1.    Be a speaker.
Volunteer to be a panelist or speaker. Whether it’s part of the tradeshow’s educational seminars or to pitch a topic to speak on, this opens the opportunity to build credibility with the audience and your company’s name gets that additional exposure beyond just having a booth space. Couple that exposure with being able to position yourself as an expert in the industry and it’s a win-win. Take advantage of the opportunity or create the opportunity to be a speaker.

2.    Host a private dinner.
If you know that your best customers will be attending the tradeshow, invite them to a special thank you dinner. Leading up to the event, ask each customer if they’d be open to a brief chat that would be video recorded. Then before the dinner, email a couple of questions to those who agreed to record a testimonial, so they can prepare answers in advance. These testimonials can be a powerful draw to potential customers when you upload them to your website.

3.    Have a post tradeshow happy hour.
This is a great way to connect with prospective customers and work on building relationships. Have a special invite prepared for visitors to your booth. You want this to be focused on having fun and not a place to be selling your opportunity. Don’t forget to invite your best customers as well since there’s a good chance they may talk about what you have to offer, and talk your company up to those prospective customers.

4.    Request editorial attendee list
Most of the big tradeshows will have a list of editors and/or journalists who are planning to be at the tradeshow. It’s to your advantage to get personal time with the editors and writers. Knowing in advance who will be there gives you the opportunity to connect before the show and ensure getting time with key editors.

Be proactive and schedule meetings with those key writers/editors. Offer them a demo of your services/product, talk about their recent articles (you’ve done your research, haven’t you?) and ask about their upcoming articles. Offer yourself up as an expert resource for them in the future. Being able to meet with them establishes a relationship that can help you in the short-term and become a key PR asset in the future.

5.    Use social media.
Your company should be taking advantage of social media to drive traffic to your exhibit leading up to the show, during the show and to your website after the show.

Before the show, your company should be on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., sharing what you will be doing when you are there, and why attendees need to stop by your exhibit. From getting the special invite to your happy hour to even the special events and contests at your tradeshow booth. Get the word out.

During the show, you should be socially sharing what’s happening at your booth, pictures of contests happening, presentations occurring, even video testimonials that happen in the booth. There are many ways to use social media to drive traffic to your booth during the show.

After the show, it’s important to share a recap of the events, video and picture montages, personal thank you’s to visitors and share any post-show specials that are being offered. In addition to the above, social media also gives you the chance to build on those relationships that have been started.

With a little of creative positioning, these are some surefire ways to gain additional exposure for your business and ultimately drive sales.

Timothy Carter is the Digital Marketing Manager for Nimlok Displays, a division of Orbus Exhibit & Display Group. He is also a columnist at Marketing Land, Small Business Trends and AuthorityLabs.

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