As much as you may be hearing from people—not excluding from us—that everything is going digital these days, you simply cannot replace the human element. Sometimes when dealing with a business, especially a big one, it is easy to forget that it is made up of real, live people, each with unique personalities that contribute to the overall brand. People do not want to just deal with machines all the time.
Think about all those times you’ve found yourself on the phone trying to get in touch with customer service for, let’s say, an insurance company. As time ticks by while you hopelessly argue with the robotic pre-recording, you grow more and more frustrated, and all you want is to speak to a human, right?
We know the feeling and we can assure you that this is not always the best way to connect with customers or clients, nor with prospective business partners. People like to be understood, people like to feel special, people like to feel like you are speaking only to them. They need that personal touch. If they feel neglected, the relationship will soon seem fake or distant and they will likely go elsewhere (perhaps even to your competition).
(Image source: https://www.infinityexhibits.com/image/data/Blog%20Pics/5-Reasons-Why-Your-Business-Needs-trade-show.jpg)
It’s why you should care about trade show marketing. People go to mingle, to build their network, to get to see the faces attached to the names, and to get to see or even handle some of the products that you keep raving about—in real life. We can say all we want about our services online, in a piece of direct mail, in a commercial, or just about anything else we can think of to get our information out there, but you need to prove it, too.
Since people often like to “see it to believe it,” if you are representing or leading your company in your trade show marketing efforts, you will want to be sure to bring samples, a demo, and branded promotional items that relate to your industry. If the show in question is only for your particular trade, then you need to be sure your items, whether educational or more for entertainment purposes, are unique. You need to plan to do your best to stand out from the rest. Be different.
Bring a surplus of professionally designed business cards that have your logo, company colors, and all the contact information people might need. You want to seem approachable and open to any questions. You are there to give them a better idea of what your company is about and not just canned responses they might have been getting on the Internet. Many companies opt to get branded tablecloths made, as well as signs or infographics, to draw more people to their booth.
You also need to realize that your trade show marketing should start well before the show itself, not just be carried out once there. People need to not only be informed and aware that your company will have a rep in attendance, but one of your jobs is to get people excited. Amp them up for what’s to come. Create content weeks, if not months, in advance of a convention that frames both your booth and the event as a whole as something that is not to be missed.
Our clients tend to get great leads from landing pages that offer an incentive for filling out basic information. It’s a win-win because once you have this info you can get them on your email list and promote in a way that stays interesting yet non-invasive. If you already have a contact list, utilize it—send out a newsletter saying you’ll have a booth at the show. Allude to some things you’ll be offering there (and how they’re exclusive, for attendees only) and don’t forget to include dates and location. Know that emails with a personal touch improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.
You can also use a social media campaign to alert people to your presence at a conference and hype up the importance of attending. Post about it and do a little research on the trade show’s website so you can get an idea of the hashtags they might be using. This will get you into the conversation and make you more visible to people who are already interested or maybe did not realize they were interested.
If you follow these guidelines—from which many of our clients have enjoyed an abundance of new leads and renewed relationships through the years—you are sure to be on your way to a great event. Having someone from your company attend trade shows is one of the best marketing strategies out there. People always take notice when you are making an effort to meet in-person and to get to know them and their needs or goals. This personal touch will get you far in a new digital world that seems to be getting just a little out of touch.