Content marketing (prospect education) is an essential aspect of the B2B – and even B2C – sales cycle, particularly for high-end products and services. According to a study done last year by a content marketing platform, Curata, more than 80% of marketers use content marketing strategies to promote their product or service. Exhibiting at a trade show shouldn’t be any different. Exhibiting at an event can be a great way to leverage your content to drive attendees to your booth space, and thus gain more leads to convert to customers. Here are some ways your company can use content marketing to make your next trade show experience a success.
Keep Your Audience in Mind
Every trade show is different and attracts different audiences. And as an exhibitor, you’ll have different goals for each trade show at which you exhibit. We’ve talked about how important it is to know your business’s target audience and demographic in plenty of previous posts. And just like with branding and marketing, understanding your target audience at a trade show is fundamental to exhibiting success. At one trade show, you might target direct consumers of your product or service, while at another you might go after potential vendors or suppliers. The key to great content marketing for your next trade show is discerning who your specific audience is for that show so that you can write targeted content, entice them to visit your booth, and convert them to happy customers.
You might be asking yourself, how do I do that? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Remember, the purpose of your business is to solve a specific pain point for your prospects. Potential customers researching ways to solve their problem, and they choose you because they want you to be able to solve their specific pain. Furthermore, not only do they want you to take care of their problem, they want a clear demonstration that you know what you’re talking about and can be trusted to do it properly. Trade shows not only allow prospects to find companies that can solve their problems, but also allow companies to demonstrate how they’re the perfect choice for said prospect. When you are developing content with the goal to drive traffic to your booth (and thus gain leads and improve your ROI), keep this main question in mind: how does my product or service solve the pain of my clients? Create content that 1) recognizes the pain your target client is suffering from, 2) how your company can solve that specific problem, and 3) that not only can your business solve the problem, but can also be trusted to be the best.
The trade show’s attendees aren’t the only people you should be researching when cultivating your content strategy. You should look at your competition that will be attending the trade show alongside you. See what their value proposition is and how it differs from your own – prospects certainly will. Check out their content and see if they have any type of strategy leading up to the show. Are they posting educational blogs, video interviews with industry influencer, or even promoting their booth space with social media ads? If your competition has a content strategy focused on getting attendees to their booth and your company doesn’t, don’t be surprised when your exhibiting experience is a dud. Read/watch your competition’s content and position your content to show prospects how you are different and, ultimately, the better choice.
It’s also important to note that attendees at your next trade show might be at different stages of the buying cycle. Make sure you create content and in-booth experience to reflect these multiple stages. If you only gear your strategy to one stage, you might create a lot of missed opportunities.
Types of Content and How to Leverage Them for Your Next Show
Videos are a great way to create valuable content, especially if you are averse to writing, which can easily be shared, transformed, and repurposed. Create product demonstrations, interviews, video blogs, or any other type of content that positions your company as qualified, knowledgeable, and the perfect choice for your prospects. And don’t forget to use your closing scenes as a call to action to visit your booth at your next trade show.
White papers are a great long-format piece of content for your potential clients. Most attendees don’t want to spend the time reading a white paper or getting that in-depth when visiting a booth space. Use white papers before your show to cement your company as a leader in the industry. They can be informative, checklists, or even case studies. For better tracking, put your white papers behind a download page. This will allow you to get information about your leads before the show, give you a chance to target them further with additional touch points, and thus have a better chance at getting them to visit your booth and ultimately convert to a customer.
Blogs are some of the easiest pieces of content to leverage for your company. Save some time by making a transcript of your video and turning it into a readable blog post (or vice versa). Write articles that lead your target attendees through a journey with the finish line being visiting your booth at your next trade show. Add in ads and CTA’s about your upcoming exhibit asking them to attend and visit your booth or schedule a meeting.
Most trade shows have a branded show hashtag (for example, our trade show uses #B2BExpoNM) that show organizers, sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees can use to share updates and have conversations about the show. Make sure to leverage these mini communities on your corporate social media accounts. Use the show hashtag whenever posting something about the show or when sharing a piece of your content that targets show attendees. Create graphics that promote your booth space and invite people to visit you. Closer to the event, use paid ads to boost your content and marketing efforts, targeting attendees. Social media can be a great way to leverage your content and bring on the buzz for your next trade show.
Print and Digital Marketing
For more exposure, include your content in your digital marketing campaigns. Send out emails to your top prospects and invite them to visit your booth. Have CTA’s like “Set up a meeting” or “purchase your ticket” so they have something to act on that you can track. Purchase multiple tickets and invite prospects and top clients to attend the show as your guest. Send post cards, take out ad space on the show’s website or local newspapers, or even become a sponsor of the show. Spread the word that you’ll be there, and then use your content to further entice them to visit your booth.
You can’t get people to visit your booth if they don’t know you’ll be there in the first place.
Publish and Share Your Content on Various Platforms
For further the exposure of the wonderful content you’ve spent time, money, and energy on to create, make sure to cross-promote your content. Don’t just post blogs on your blog site, share them on social; don’t just call out your booth space or that your exhibiting in a target email, add it to your blogs; share your videos in social, etc. Not all attendees will find your blog post (or other form of content) because they went to your blog website directly. Expand your reach by sharing your content across various platforms.
And as we mentioned earlier, join the show’s conversation using the show-specific hashtag, visiting their website or social pages, and chatting with others exhibiting at, attending, or interested in the show. Want to be really consistent and on brand with the trade show? Use their provided collateral, or ask for their brand guidelines to use when creating your own collateral.
Have a Plan
The best intentions at creating an amazing pre-event content strategy can fall apart if you don’t start with a plan. Create a blueprint/schedule of your content, from creation to publication. Remember to focus your content around guiding your prospects through a journey from education, to seeing you as a solution, to purchasing a ticket to the trade show, to visiting your booth, to converting and becoming a customer. You can control the funnel with proper planning. We found this wonderful, and simple, content schedule guideline that you should use (and adjust for your specific company) leading up to your next trade show. Check it out here.
Trade shows can be hard enough as it is, from choosing the show, ordering all the displays, labor, and supplies, and convincing everyone that it’s worth the money. Making sure your booth has enough visitors shouldn’t be one of them. Increase your next shows potential success by creating a great content strategy. Base your content on the shows attendees and your target demographic. Develop various forms of great content that showcase how your company can solve your prospects’ problems. Publish and promote that content across multiple platforms. And use the show’s resources to join the conversation and invite people to visit your booth space. Trade shows can be great for businesses. Make sure your next one is a success.