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What is a Tradeshow and What do They Mean for Businesses?

For many businesses, tradeshows represent a rare opportunity to not only meet potential customers face to face, but also a time to get to know potential investors – while at the same time keeping a watchful eye on their most aggressive competitors. Admittedly, the idea of having access to literally thousands of potential customers in such a short time (many tradeshows wrap up after just a few days) does in fact sound like a sure win situation, the truth is many businesses – both big and small – walk away from tradeshows with very little to show for their time, effort, and most importantly, their investment.

A business that identifies and executes a tradeshow strategy ahead of time will more often than not prevail where the ill-prepared firm will not – and these days, social media is playing a larger role than ever in ensuring the success of tradeshow attendees.

How Social Media Can be Used to Make Your Show a Success

While you can certainly take advantage of platforms like Twitter to invite potential clients to stop by your booth, chances are if you wait until the day of the event, your efforts won’t be nearly as effective as they would be had you started them a couple of weeks earlier. For instance, if the tradeshow you’re attending has an official hashtag relating to the event, consider using it in the days and weeks leading up to the show. Using the official hashtag (while adding one of your own – perhaps to highlight a new product or service) will get you noticed by the event’s coordinators and perspective clients that are planning to attend.

You might also consider taking a number of pictures during the show and sharing them via social media. These “action shots” create a sense of excitement around your brand that potential customers won’t want to pass up.

Take pictures of your products, your staff working the floor, engaging with customers – but be conscientious about how many pictures you’re sharing. You want to share enough so as to remain at the top of the list of booths to visit; sharing too many can be detrimental as your company may come off spammy or pushy. With tradeshows lasting as long as they do, those are two monikers that could ruin a show for you rather quickly.

A good rule of thumb about strategically sharing information with followers while at a tradeshow is to have a meeting beforehand and come up with an idea about what you want to accomplish. Space out your tweets to coincide with events you have scheduled at your booth, like say, a product unveiling or a presentation.

Success Most Often Relies on What You do After the Show

When the booths come down, it’s time to follow up with all the qualified leads you were able to collect at the show. Using various platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook reach out to those potential clients that you spent time cultivating a relationship with on the tradeshow floor. Using these tools allow you to continue to continue to build the relationship without using the time consuming and antiquated phone call. Sure, it’s still nice to hear a voice when discussion business, but at this point, gathering information and building the relationship is key. When contacting potential clients, be sure to send each one a personalized message – perhaps something you discussed at the show.

Blogging. If you can swing it, have someone on your team draft several blog posts that you can share on your website. One thing I have found that helps create a relationship with a potential client is offering to share your blog post on their site (only approach them about this if the blog post favorable mentions their company). Everyone loves free content!

Lastly, take the time to build up you email list. Remember, these are qualified leads – time to get them on the newsletter list.

Common Mistakes Businesses Make When it Comes to Social Media

  • Relying too heavily on social media. Remember that there is no substitute for shaking hands and building a relationship on the sales floor. Social media is intended to supplement your interaction with clients and investors not be your primary point of contact.
  • Always have a strategy when it comes to social media. Just because things like Twitter and Facebook did not get their start in the business world, don’t assume you can take a casual mindset when it comes to how you use these platforms.
  • Proofread your posts – leave out slang, egregious spelling, and emojis.
  • Limit your posts to those that will have the most impact. Quality always trumps quantity.

Lastly, failing to interact with your followers can paint a negative picture about what your firm thinks about things like customer service and attention to detail. If you’re going to post, be sure you have someone on your team who is dedicated to interacting with your followers.