Using digital media to stand out at a business expo

This week I went along with a client to assist at their exhibition space at a conference in Auckland. They exhibit at just one conference each year so it’s a crucial event to generate leads. This year was LawTechNZ, which really makes sense for them because they specialise in providing Desktop as a Service (the cloud) to lawyers and law firms.

To sum up a long day – they went back to Wellington with some very hot leads, and we put it down to this one key thing: A LOT of people visited their exhibit booth.

There are plenty of reasons to attend a conference, but checking out the exhibits isn’t usually high on the list so we deployed some digital media tactics, and a few other tricks to create some buzz and get people to our booth.

Here are 10 ways you can use digital media like the pros to maximise your time and money at your next trade expo, because like a website – just because you’re there doesn’t mean the people will come – you have to draw them in.

Use digital media before the expo

  • Promote the event on your social channels: use the event’s hashtag and tag/mention the primary organisers. They might re-share your post to their followers, which likely includes everyone attending the event.
  • Include an exclusive ticket discount in your next eNewsletter: see if you can swing a discount on the ticket price for your own customers and promote this in your newsletter, or purchase tickets and offer them as a giveaway/prize draw – this will increase exposure that you’ll be there.
  • Organise your killer giveaway and promote it using digital media: get creative and be super relevant to your industry. If it’s in your budget give something to each person that comes to your booth in exchange for something in return that they can do using digital media, for example if they:
    • Fill in a survey – you can also use an app for this so there is no manual entry afterwards
    • Take a photo and upload it to social media using your hashtag
    • Mention/tag you on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter while at the expo/conference
    • Sign up to your newsletter (use an automated list builder app so you don’t spend hours entering hand-written email addresses after the fact)
Use-LinkedIn-to engage-before-event

During the expo

  • Live tweeting and social media engagement: events and Twitter go hand-in-hand and there is usually always an event hashtag so take advantage of all the people using so no one misses out on what you’ve got to offer them. For this particular event we were using #LawTechNZ. [Tip: If you’re trying to engage the younger generation and you’re in right industry try SnapChat: Here’s 6 small ways small businesses should use SnapChat.]
  • Take and share photos: This will add to your ever growing bank of content to use in the future.
Using-LinkedIn-to-promote-your-event
  • Product demos: I am not deep-level techy so talking to lawyers about Desktop as a Service was not easy. Showing them Desktop as a Service A lot of booths had monitors showing video displays of their product – but people can watch that from afar giving you no opportunity to talk to them.
  • Promote your killer giveaway: Every single person that comes to your booth should be offered the giveaway, but not until they’ve given you what you are looking for in return. Our giveaway was alluring enough that nearly everyone came to our table to grab one. We were handing out mobile phone power banks – something nearly all of us need when our phone battery dies. I sourced these for my client through a promotional products company, so we added the logo, tech support 0800 number, web address, and got them in the colour of the companies branding. Your giveaway will also provide a lot of content for your pre and intra-promotion on social channels.
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A few ‘on the day’ ideas:

  • Stand in front of your booth
  • Look inviting and active – not bored and preoccupied
  • Have some takeaway materials for people to read later – my favourite are case studies and content you’ve created in the past like printed articles or blogs.
  • Shake everyone’s had and ask their name, and introduce yourself (seems obvious right?)
  • Ask questions to get them talking about the subject you’re an expert in and to break the ice
  • Never leave the booth unoccupied, bring helpers or extra staff to rotate so you can take a break and come back energised.
  • Follow up: if you were asking for email addresses, send everyone an email to thank them for coming to see you and include links to your latest material. Invite them to join you on social media and/or send discount codes to purchase your products/services. If you did a survey, share the survey results on your social channels.
  • Write a blog: do a quick wrap up of the event, it’s easy content and you’re bound to have some great photos.
  • Keep the hashtag alive: if you were live tweeting or engaging with people on Facebook/Instagram you can keep the event hashtag alive by having a follow up prize draw, for example ‘share a photo of your expo loot’, or ‘if you could wrap up the event in one word what would it be?’

After the expo

  • Follow up: if you were asking for email addresses, send everyone an email to thank them for coming to see you and include links to your latest material. Invite them to join you on social media and/or send discount codes to purchase your products/services. If you did a survey, share the survey results on your social channels.
  • Write a blog: do a quick wrap up of the event, it’s easy content and you’re bound to have some great photos.
  • Keep the hashtag alive: if you were live tweeting or engaging with people on Facebook/Instagram you can keep the event hashtag alive by having a follow up prize draw, for example ‘share a photo of your expo loot’, or ‘if you could wrap up the event in one word what would it be?’

Final suggestion:

Say ‘yes’ to being a sponsor: If there are options to sponsor an event, a giveaway, or just to get your name on the website then do it.

You’ll not only get your brand on all the promotional materials, you’ll also usually get a mention in front of all the delegates.

My client was strategic and sponsored the onsite coffee cart, which also included having our exhibition space in close proximity to the cart. Free coffee brought people in droves to our area of the exhibit hall, and people floated over to our stand while waiting for their brew.