The following is a guest post by AJ Wilcox:
So if you’ve been following this blog for long enough, you likely have an active following on Facebook, Twitter, or both for your business. Do you have an impressive booth that your customers could benefit from seeing? If so, leveraging your social media outlets could be doing excellent things for your business, as well as the show.
I recommended to my boss that we advertise that we’re going to be at such-and-such show, and he said, “It’s not our job to get people to the show – that’s the show’s job. Our job is to pay them and show up. I don’t want to pay to promote their show.” While I understand my boss’s point of view, I feel like not promoting the show as an exhibitor would be a mistake…especially over social media, because it’s free.
Instead, let me present my take on exhibitor promotion. I’m fairly idealistic, and I feel like if every exhibitor brought customers to the show, that it would benefit every exhibitor and the show immensely. When the shows are more widely attended, it encourages more and more people to come, which give you access to more potential customers.
I recommend using social media as a tool to let customers and acquaintances know about the show and encourage them to come. They way I’ve done this for the most part is through contests and giveaways.
Most of the shows I exhibit at give me a certain number of free tickets to give out. Reach out to your audience and offer free tickets to the show. If demand is higher than the amount of tickets you have, then do contests, giveaways, or trivia to distribute them. Not only does it give you more interaction over social media, but it gets people to the shows.
If you don’t have free tickets, simply inviting people to come check out your booth at the show could be enough. If they come from your invite, they’re sure to drop by to say hi while there. As a simple principle, the more time someone spends interacting with your company, the more connected they will feel to it. Connection breeds sales and referrals, so this will be excellent relationship building for business growth.
Once you’ve gotten them to the show, now use social media as a way to engage and interact with them at the show. Create a twitter hashtag, or participate in existing hashtag conversation. Provide interactive media like this QR code banner stand example we created, or simply talk about the highlights of the show while there. It’s not inconceivable that a customer would see your updates and think that the show sounds interesting, and decide to come.
Obviously, don’t update so often that you annoy them to death and they stop following you, but enough to stay interesting. Let me know in the comments how you use social media to bolster booth traffic and customer engagement while at the shows!
If your booth is more impressive than is your shop (as is the case for my company), it may be more advantageous to get customers to the show to see you. Social media will help them feel connected to the show will make them feel like they’ve shared an experience with you, which is always good for continued business relationships. Plus you’ve optimized your booth for a very specific purpose, and any excuse to get key customers there will be worthwhile.
About the Author: AJ Wilcox works for Giant Printing in Austin, TX. He constantly exhibits at various industry trade shows and is an avid proponent of booth and lead efficiency for highest show ROI. He loves exotic cars, running, and hanging out with his wife and 2 kids.