Trade shows hold excellent marketing and sales opportunities for B2B companies. But with limited budgets, investment in show-floor real estate might be daunting. Here are three ways you can maximize your company’s trade show attendance and make the cost of a booth well worth it:

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Seek Out Speaking Opportunities

Pulling customers into your booth with engaging showmanship is hard work. Don’t forget that trade shows also present an opportunity to reach a captive audience off the show floor. These events are full of opportunities for conversation – from 1-1 meetings and small group presentations, to panel discussions and auditorium-filled keynote presentations – many of which are free.

Maintaining a presence in front of the crowd goes beyond giving your company good brand recognition. It positions your employees and company as thought leaders. Seek out topics that are relevant to customer issues and make sure not to use the opportunity as a sales pitch.

Capitalize on the Media

Editors of your key publications are already at the event to learn about what’s new and innovative for their readers. Articles published at-and post-event will help you reach key audiences beyond attendees. There are several ways to engage with media at events:

  • Set up 1-1 Meetings – While you’re both under the same roof, take the opportunity to lend your company’s perspective on industry trends. Ask event organizers for a list of registered editors and schedule meetings with key spokespeople. Use this time with the editor to build a relationship, provide background on your company and key offerings, and talk about potential editorial opportunities.
  • Provide Content for the Event Media Kit / Press room – Event organizers typically gather news releases, images and other content from exhibitors, and make it available to media. This is an easy – and (often) free – way to get your latest news in front of your key editors, many of which do round up articles about major announcements made at events.
  • Contribute to the Show Daily – Some events will partner with a publication to produce a daily newsletter or print edition publication of event highlights. There are often opportunities to provide content for editorial or place an ad. Promotion in the Daily is a good avenue for reaching event attendees on-site to drive traffic to your booth or speaking engagement.

Engage on Social Media

Events are a big hub for social media conversation, particularly on Twitter. Begin by researching how the event organizers are using social channels and hashtags. Then, develop a calendar that shows a steady cadence of social media posts with engaging content, images and video, to run pre-, during, and post-event.

Remember not to be overly promotional in your content. Experience shows that audiences are willing to share content with their followers if it is educational and informational. Follow the 70/30 rule:

  • 70% of content should be sharing others’ posts and ideas to build relationships.
  • 30% of content can be thought leadership to build your company’s brand and publicity to promote the business, products and upcoming events.

 

It’s not just about posting content, but also engaging with others. Prior to the event, set up your profile to follow your key customers, partners and influencers. Once you’re on-site, monitor hashtags for opportunities to proactively share/retweet posts, engage in conversation, respond to comments, questions, etc.

And the opportunities don’t stop when the event ends. Develop a post-event plan for handing off contacts to sales reps, follow up with the editors you meet and continue the social media conversation.  Compiling and sharing event-related leads, media coverage, and social results starts to build a case for positive ROI with your executive team, which can further your marketing plans and budget.