Digital Marketing + Trade Shows: A Match to Make Connections

Generate leads before your next trade show using digital marketing.

It’s a question that you’ve likely considered in today’s digital dominated world: has online communication replaced traditional face-to-face networking? The fact is, although much of our business interaction today is done through online marketing, the handshake isn’t dead.

We experienced this first hand in the fall at CPhI Worldwide, the world’s biggest pharma trade show. Over a few very busy days, we interacted with prospects and current clients, setting up new business meetings on site and building connections that we are still growing months later.  Part of our success was that we paired our trade show experience with digital optimized content marketing in advance of the show. The result was a match made in networking heaven.

Digital marketing has changed the way we sell and connect

Today, it’s important to spend more time educating prospective customers about our capabilities and services than direct selling. Your website is an essential part of your sales team and one of your most efficient sales channels. So if you’re headed to a trade show, it’s important to build your web presence and plan to make digital marketing part of your trade show strategy before, during and after the showroom floor. Here’s our five tips to maximize the trade show experience:

1. Kick Start Your Sales Cycle

Get the sales cycle going before you get there. Why? Fifty-seven percent of the sales decision is made online before prospects reach out to you. Start making connections, educating your prospects, and demonstrating your expertise online ahead of time so when showtime arrives, you can focus on closing deals. Connecting digitally, particularly on key social channels like LinkedIn, before you get to the show means all you have to do is practice your pitch and perfect your handshake. Or set up an email campaign to key prospects in advance to introduce yourself and share original content, industry news or expertise. The other upside to being proactive? You’ll be on your prospect’s radar before your competitors.

2. Review and Update Your Website

Now that you’ve amped up your web presence to get the sales cycle started, potential clients know you exist. Your website is the first place they’ll turn for more information on your processes, products and services. To prepare for the influx of views, do some website housekeeping. Broken links or spelling mistakes will leave potential clients with a less-than-stellar first impression of your organization. eBooks, whitepapers and how-to guides are examples of content that you can share to build trust with your prospects.

3. Arm Yourself With Knowledge

If you’re going to be rubbing elbows with your future clients, you’ll want to be knowledgeable about what matters most to them. More importantly, you need to know how to speak to their pain points — and how you can solve them.

Searching on social media is one of the most effective ways to peek in on industry conversations. Set up listening tools on Twitter and LinkedIn using keywords related to the event and industry. Tools like Google Alerts will deliver custom reports to your inbox daily if you take the time to set up the right keywords.

4. Plan Ahead to Capture Leads and Share Content From the Floor

Create a plan that will help you capture leads on the trade show floor. How will you ensure you can get in touch with your new contacts long after the event has ended? Exchanging emails or business cards is a traditional way to network, but use your imagination. Apps are a great way to standardize the contact information you collect and will store data for you long after the show is over. Cardmunch makes storing business card contact information easy – and digital!

And don’t ignore social media on the trade show floor. Share your experiences in real time and share what others might have missed. Remember that there are potential connections out there who wanted to attend but couldn’t — you could be their on-site reporter!

5. Plan Your Post-Show Follow Up

Don’t let the momentum die after the show. Instead consider these lead generators to differentiate yourself from your competitors and keep the connections alive:

  • – Develop a personalized “thank you” email campaign that can be tracked and measured.

  • – Turn to your social spaces to follow up by sharing images and content with contacts on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

  • – Use a newsletter or blog to recap your experience and share with your circles and any new contacts you make.

The overall message here is this: don’t give up on trade shows….just learn how to connect the experience with digital marketing. This perfect match up of modern and traditional will maximize time spent on the showroom floor.

Ready to make the most of your trade show presence? Download your own trade show digital engagement checklist to get the most out of your next exhibition.