trade show marketingFor years now trade show attendance has been dwindling. Without reading the reports, I think we can agree that budget cuts for travel is one major contributor, as well as a feeling of disconnect from the organization holding the event. But recently I have come to realize how social media and mobile devices can play a big part in making the benefits of attending a trade show far outweigh the perceived negatives. So before you say no to your next industry trade show, think about how important it can be for your business.

As I prepare to head out to my first trade show in a few years I began thinking how to take advantage of the opportunity to be around people of similar interest from around the country – especially since I am traveling from anchorage to Orlando (which gives new meaning to red eye). And of course I wanted to incorporate my inbound marketing skills so that my company might benefit as well.

One great thing that has changed is that I no longer need to haul my heavy laptop case through the airports. I now only need my smartphone and tablet to do just about everything I need to do. And what I need to do is create content through blogging and then promote that content through my social media channels. Social media is also a great way to connect with people at the event.

Let’s look at some ways to enhance the trade show experience and help your small business at the same time. Your return on investment should prove that attending the trade show is much better than not showing up at all.

Blogging

Creating content is such an important component of a small business marketing plan. By attending education sessions and speaking to vendors on the trade show floor, you can get enough information to write 100 articles! Here are some ideas to plan for your next show.

  • Interview experts presenting the education sessions. Video interviews would be 1,000 times better!  A picture may be worth a 1,000 words, but video is worth 1,000 pictures.
  • Post the top 5 topics or top 5 trends you hear being discussed at the event.
  • Review products that will benefit your customers
  • Capture questions being asked during sessions and post answers given. Expand and comment with your own suggestions and ideas about the topic.

You get the idea. My plan is to post at least one blog page per day.

Promote with social media

Now you have the content written and it’s time to push it out. Depending on your industry and intended audience, that might mean Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or a number of other sites you prefer.

One way you might use your smartphone is to take a picture of a cool new product your followers would enjoy and share some information about it through your Facebook business page.

Making connections with LinkedIn

I’m a big fan of LinkedIn and especially at events that are away from home. After all, LinkedIn is all about connections. Here are some ways you might use it to enhance your experience at the next show.

  • Look up profiles of speakers before you attend their session to see if you can learn more about them.
  • Arrange a social meeting with other attendees that are in groups you follow.
  • Share your content with groups who would benefit.

There are many other opportunities to help your small business.  For example, I plan to create an ebook that the audience would benefit from.  A handout will have a QR code that links to the page to download for free.

What are you planning for your next trade show that will boost your return on investment?

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Sandi Sturm is the inbound marketing specialist at Alaskarama.com and mobile marketing specialist and developer at MobilePlusLocal.com.

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