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How to integrate inbound marketing in your trade show strategy

Are trade shows even relevant anymore? Now that prospects can find all they need to know about products and services online, do they still want to spend time and money to attend a trade show?

If you’ve ever spent an hour staring at your computer screen trying to stay focused on a webinar, you’ll understand the allure for trade show attendees. It’s one thing to look at product information on a website. It’s quite another to meet the team behind the product or solution, and have the chance to ask questions, learn about what’s coming in future, and even make suggestions on product development or direction. 

Benefits of trade shows

So for trade show attendees, there are lots of benefits in attending in person, including networking, building face-to-face relationships, and diving as deeply as possible into the companies and solutions they’re interested in. For exhibitors, lead generation and sales are of course the primary goals, same as they’ve always been. And trade shows are also a great opportunity for organizations to learn more about customer needs, and solidify customer relationships.

Other elements to consider in the inbound age

For some organizations, trade shows have long been viewed as a ‘standalone’ marketing component, managed independently from other marketing programs. But to maximize your trade show ROI, you need to fully integrate inbound marketing into your trade show strategy.

Download our step-by-step guide on integrating inbound marketing into your trade show strategy

The experience for trade show attendees has changed

Since all the information they need is online, they don’t need to carry around a branded tote bag with reams of sales collateral anymore. Instead, they want to visit your booth, perhaps sit and relax, and talk with key people. They want quick and easy ways to access relevant product information online, on their mobiles, and they want to feel ‘in the know’ about your trade show activities and announcements. 

And let’s not forget about the industry influencers who will be at the trade show. They’re looking for the next big thing, or the next big company. Gaining a mention in a blog, or a social media post, from a key influencer in your field is invaluable, so make sure to keep these influencers on your radar.

So how can you support these needs with inbound marketing techniques? With an inbound plan tailored to the event. 

Add some inbound goals to your trade show plan

First, consider your trade show goals. Your primary goals are probably lead generation, sales, and relationship building. So how about adding some new inbound goals, such as:

  • Increasing traffic to your website
  • Increasing your social media following
  • Signing up more email and/or blog subscribers

And just like lead generation and sales, these new goals can all be easily tracked.  

Create a dedicated landing page for the trade show

You’ll likely be offering a range of CTAs before, during and after the show, including downloads (white papers, product information, etc.), raffles or contests, and signing up for email or blogs.

Create a landing page just for the trade show, and funnel all trade-show related activity through it. That allows you to highlight your show offer or tagline on the landing page, and allows you to very easily track each CTA.

An easy step-by-step guide on integrating inbound marketing into your trade show strategy

This is just the start in planning how to integrate inbound marketing into your trade show plans. To learn more, we’ve created an easy step-by-step guide on integrating inbound marketing into your trade show strategy.

It’s a checklist of inbound activities that you can use to power and promote your trade show involvement, and strengthen the integration with your overall inbound plan.

Gunther Walravens
Gunther Walravens
Associate Partner at Living Stone

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