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Bring your trade shows into the digital age with Trade Show Optimization

WRITTEN by: Bill Sterzenbach |
categories: Business Growth

Mar 2017


In the midst of such exciting new digital technologies, it’s easy to forget our old friend the trade show. Anyone in the b2b space knows that while trade shows have their limitations, they are still highly effective at driving new business, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

We visit the big b2b trade shows each year, and we are always amazed at how many missed opportunities we see for integrating digital marketing activities with our offline friend the trade show. In this article we’re going review some of the more effective techniques you can employ to tie it all together and bring your trade show into the digital age.

Start with Attribution

Rebuild your trade show mindset - start from a digital perspective of “attribution first”. This approach dictates that you determine how every element of your activities will be measured as the first step towards any work on your trade show. If you can’t identify how it will be measured, retool the activity until it’s measurable.

Pre-show promotion

You should always be building your social network in preparation for your next event. You should actively participate in your connections posts and show engagement to build your network. Making this full-time investment will pay off in a big way in the weeks leading up to your next trade show. Be certain that your entire marketing team (including any outside partners) have your complete trade show schedule. Ask them to confirm receipt to ensure they understand that they are being relied upon to support your trade show activity in all aspects of their marketing efforts.

During the pre-show phase (essentially all year) you have tremendous opportunities to drive additional visits to your booth. Generating buzz around booth attractions will ensure that those in attendance will make it a point to give you a look. A simple post or two announcing your participation and booth ID at a show is not enough. You need to PROMOTE your booth via social media and email wherever possible. You are paying a lot of money for the space, be sure you are going to keep the folks in the booth hopping at all hours.

Setup meetings for during the show through email and social media in advance. To get the most out of your show, take every opportunity to connect with potential customers during the event. Often exhibitors respond to this suggestion with “I can setup a meeting with them anytime, the show is for people I haven’t met”. This isn’t entirely correct - we know it’s increasingly difficult to connect with our customers and prospects, and catching them at a show can be a phenomenal opportunity to engage (or re-engage).

Ideas for promoting your booth through social media:

Giveaways of sought after items such as iPads, Alexa devices, Microsoft Surface devices, etc

Use a free trip to the show as a means to generate organic social traffic and shares. We have seen success with “nominate a colleague for a free trip to the show” promotions. You invite followers to nominate a colleague by sharing your post and mentioning the colleague in the share. You can then collect all shares and select a winner from the mentions. You can spend a couple thousand dollars and get much more in advertising this way.

Channels/Methodologies for promotion:

  • Paid LinkedIn ads targeting the companies you’d like to see visit your booth.
  • Paid sponsorship in the show email announcements
  • Renting the show email list to send a blast all attendees
  • LinkedIn targeted InMail promotion to companies attending

Increasing the buzz

Be sure to leverage the networks of your salesforce and other team members to promote the show appearance. Providing a post on all of the major social media properties for your team to promote can be a big boost. More importantly, say something in the post that will generate excitement. A simple announcement is not enough to generate excitement.

During the show

Promotions to attract visitors should continue well into the show. Attendees are checking email and their social profiles during the show, and this is a great opportunity to remind them that you are there. Don't pull back on the pressure during the show, take advantage of the fact that you know they are there and a few steps from your booth!

Post show follow-up

Of course it's all about the followup. Consider promotions that work after the show as well as during the show. It's a great opportunity to solidify your connections with attendees who will have competing demands for their attention after the show.

We Can Help. Try our TSO Program

Upward Brand Interactions has a Trade Show Optimization program that works! Our program creates strong linkages between your offline show and the critical online world. Give us a call to learn more.

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