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Trade shows still present an important avenue for networking, sales lead generation and joint ventures. Even in this digitized world, the old-school tactic of attending a conference relevant to your niche (or your customer’s niche) is still part of a great marketing strategy.

If you’re the one who’s organizing a trade show, there is no reason you can’t combine the advantages of the modern technological era with tried and true trade show marketing efforts. Here are some ways you can do that:

  1. Create Segmented Email Lists

Hopefully, you’ll attract quite a crowd to your trade show. Is there any reason why you shouldn’t ask attendees for an email address and build your various distribution lists? This is a great way to enhance your outreach.

For starters, you should create (or add to) email lists based on the interests expressed by the attendees. Your application form should query attendees as to why they’re visiting the trade show, their own background and their responsibilities within the organization they represent.

Then, use that information to add the attendee’s email address to a properly segmented email list that you can use for marketing purposes. A segmented email list is superior to a generic “everybody who attended the conference” list because it lessens the appearance of spam, reaches the right people with the right message and is generally more effective.

Recent research suggests that 39% of marketers who used segmented lists saw higher open rates. Twenty-eight percent of them saw lower unsubscribe rates and almost a quarter (24%) saw increased revenue.

  1. Use LinkedIn to Reach Out to Attendees

Why does the networking have to stop once the conference is over? Thanks to LinkedIn, you can network virtually with anyone, no matter where you or the other party is located.

In addition to providing a space in the application form for an attendee’s email address, also provide a space for the person’s LinkedIn URL. It’s quite likely that a number of applicants won’t know their own URL right away, so feel free to help them out by telling them how to locate it (it’s right below the “View profile as” button when LinkedIn users view their own profile).

Now that you have a LinkedIn contact, you can take advantage of the numerous benefits of LinkedIn marketing. This is in addition to the email marketing mentioned above, so it’s a great way to maximize your outreach efforts.

  1. Provide a Twitter Hashtag for the Conference

Sometimes, when you check your timeline on Twitter, you might notice certain trending hashtags that are referencing a conference or trade show. There’s no reason why you can’t create a hashtag for your conference to build online publicity.

First of all, make sure your hashtag is as short as possible, while still being descriptive. Remember, Twitter is a microblogging platform that only allows people to post updates that are no more than 140 characters in length. If you opt for a hashtag like #SalesAndMarketingTacticsFor2016, then you’re limiting how much people can say about your trade show in one tweet. Opt for something shorter, like #SalesExpo16.

Next, make sure your hashtag is well known to all attendees. Include it, in bold type, right alongside the actual title of the show in all your marketing literature so there’s no uncertainty about the hashtag that people are supposed to use.

You should also register your hashtag on a site like Twubs for further exposure.

  1. Create an App for Your Trade Show

Most people think of a trade show app as a tool for capturing leads. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s so much more you can do with an app.

Why not craft an app that’s a digital brochure that advertises the various exhibits at your trade show? You could also allow people to use the app to search for exhibitors of interest, making it easier for attendees to find exactly the kinds of vendors they’re looking for.

The advantage of a digital app is that it fits nicely right into a device that your attendees are almost certainly already carrying: a smartphone. This means your tech-savvy attendees won’t have to carry around a large brochure or booklet that explains where everything is located.

You can also use the app to highlight important information during the day and to remind attendees about events like breakout sessions. In addition, an app may be able to provide conference-related announcements and even give a shout-out to your display vendor (maybe for a discount on the multimedia displays they hooked you up with).

Speaking of shout-outs, feel free to use your app for advertising purposes. Sell people the right to advertise on your app with digital banners (that would be an additional source of revenue as well).

  1. Provide Wi-Fi Access at Your Trade Show

This should be a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. You must provide Wi-Fi access at your trade show.

The simple fact of the matter is that we live in a digital world. Beyond that, we live in a digitally connected world. People need to be online, and it’s not always practical for your attendees to rely on 4G connections.

Remember, a good trade show is also an exercise in good customer service. Think of your attendees as customers (really, they are customers). If you want a successful trade show year after year, then be certain you make it easy for people to access the Internet.

Finally, remember that the Wi-Fi connection can also work to your benefit. This is especially true if your trade show app relies on an Internet connection to check for updates about the schedule.

Planning a trade show can be a lot of work as there are many things to consider. However, by keeping an eye on the digital components of trade show operations, you can help ensure your attendees are satisfied, and your trade show is a success.

Sarah Landrum

About Our GE Network Expert - Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, sharing advice for young professionals and entrepreneurs looking for success in their ventures. Follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum and subscribe to her blog for more tips on all things entrepreneurial.



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