Why Content Marketing Is Key to Your Trade Show Success

A few of the industry’s largest trade shows are just a few months away—do you have everything you need in place for a successful Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mobile World Congress? If you’re like many companies, the answer is like “ummm, maybe?” And that’s not a great place to be when it comes to what is likely one of your major marketing investments of the year.

One misconception in trade show planning is that the organizer is responsible for helping you get traffic to your booth. Wrong. Their responsibility is to get attendees through the door. Getting them to your booth—or to your meeting room if you do not have a presence on the show floor—is the marketing team’s responsibility.

The good news: There’s still time to course correct for these shows and any others you have in your 2020 plan. And one of the first things you should be looking at is how to use content to grow your prospective audiences and get them into your booth to learn more.

Content marketing is a broad term that covers everything from:

  • Long-form pieces like white papers, eBooks and contributed articles
  • Short-form content like social media posts
  • Blogs and columns
  • Videos and podcasts
  • Interactive content like contests and lists
  • Visual media, like infographics and charts
  • Corporate presentations

Are all of these types appropriate for your company as you build out your strategy? Probably not. But by focusing on a few, and linking them to a strategic public relations and social media plan, you’ll see stronger results across the board for your trade show strategy.

Creating Killer Content

So, what can you do to make your pre-event content the best it can be?

  • Have something to announce. Many companies miss the opportunity to gain additional momentum at trade shows because they think they have “nothing to announce.” We disagree—companies always have something they can announce at trade shows, even without a new product to showcase. They just need to get more creative with the topics. Dig a little deeper below the surface and you’ll find you might have:
    • A growth press release showcasing your company’s industry momentum
    • A partner press release that showcases your company’s commitment to your partner and channel strategy
    • A vertical market press release that highlights your value to one or more key markets
  • Use teaser content in your marketing emails and social posts. It lets you get ahead of the buzz cycle by hinting at what you may be announcing at the show. Teaser campaigns are great for keeping audiences coming back for more. Some companies start populating their blogs and social media sites with teaser content and begin to contribute articles to publications a few months before the trade show, then reinforcing those messages through email and social campaigns. They want attendees to know early and often why they should book an appointment with your team at the show. Short video snippets can also be highly effective as teaser content and can easily be repurposed across all of your chosen platforms. Which brings us to…
  • Choose the appropriate platforms for the audience(s) you’re trying to reach. Is your audience a LinkedIn crowd or an Instagram crowd? Where do Twitter and Facebook fit in? How about trade publications, both mainstream and in your targeted vertical markets? How do each of these rate in terms of helping you share your messages?
  • Go beyond tried and true. If your idea well is running dry, it might be worth trying something new like an infographic or video to spark some additional interest. What about a contest or a photo spot? If these are worth pursuing, on which platforms will you use them?
  • Promote all of your show activities. Does your plan call for engaging with others, such as attendees, speakers, media and analysts, who are using the show hashtag? That hashtag (and any ones you have created about your presence) can and should be used across all of your pre-show content. You should be promoting:
    • Booth presence (if appropriate)
    • Speaker sessions
    • Any show sponsorships you participate in
    • Any special events, like coffee or a bar in your booth, or an afterparty
  • Don’t forget third-party content. In addition to populating your own blog and social sites, you should consider contributing article and blogs to third-party publication and let them help you share your expertise (and hint at what’s to come). It’s important to get started a few months prior to your event as most publications have deadlines and queues, and are popular before trade shows. LinkedIn groups can also be a valuable medium on which to place content.

There’s still time to invigorate your trade show campaigns with a good content marketing strategy. But don’t wait too long—good content takes time to deliver. The right pieces, however, can deliver tremendous results for your next trade show.

Want to learn more about Calysto’s approach to content marketing as a key trade show strategy? Contact Marissa Evans.

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