Digital Tactics for Trade Show Marketing

October 23, 2018

John Foster

John Foster is the vice president of OOH Media Strategy for EMC Outdoor, a media placement and planning agency specializing exclusively in outdoor and out-of-home advertising. With five years of OOH experience working in the trade show world, John is ensconced in the intricacies of events and how they tick. 

The rule of seven is one of the founding concepts of marketing. The principle states that a message must be received at least seven times before it really sinks in and drives the recipient to take action.

In alignment with this rule, Out of Home advertising is designed to reach people in multiple, organic ways throughout their day. Similarly, trade shows implement the rule when delivering multiple messages to event audiences. When combining digital marketing tactics with Out of Home media for trade shows, the desired seven messages can be delivered in dynamic ways.

Successful trade show marketing overlays digital strategies that enhance media and create messaging repetition. Think of the trade show experience as three touchpoint periods: pre-, during and post-event. A properly integrated media plan will maximize physical media while interacting with people on a digital level to deliver key messaging during each of these periods.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

The lead-up to an event can often be the most exciting part. You have the chance to bring people together and generate excitement for the event. It’s when the seven opportunities to reach your audience begins. Marketers often forget this important point in the lifecycle of a trade show leaving to chance that people will organically discover their brand, booth, event or experience. Digital tactics can allow you to build recognition early, get your name in front of attendees and spread the word.

  • Email Campaign: Inform your target audience about an important event or booth information and familiarize them with your brand.
  • Preregistrations: Allow preregistration for games, raffles and other experiences to acquire lead information and build buzz.
  • Invitations and RSVPs: Digital invitations can help gain key demographic information from attendees.
  • Geofencing: Serve brand and product messaging to attendees before the event to increase impressions.

Strike While the Iron is Hot

During the event is the most critical point for serving up messaging because it holds the largest opportunity for advertisers. According to a 2016 survey from EventTrack, 72 percent of consumers say they positively view brands that provide great experiences. Brands can showcase themselves and interact with audiences that have self-identified as their target. With this unique opportunity to deliver brand message, give them an unforgettable experience.

  • Social Media: Activate attendees on social media to share content, hashtags, photos, video, etc.
  • Data Capture: A trade show presence means nothing if you can’t prove its ROI. Use street teams with iPads to engage and capture attendee demographic information.
  • Raffles and Giveaways: Create digital game experiences that make people want to participate with your brand.
  • IEET (Integrated Experiential Exhibit Technology): Enhance the attendee experience on the trade show floor and in your booth with VR/AR technology (What is IEET?).

The End is Just the Beginning

Don’t let your competitor have the last word. Check in with your audience after the show to keep the conversation going. Remind them how great their experience was at the event and provide shareable content they can send to someone who missed the show. Use the attendee data and information collected during the event to drive awareness and continue the buzz around your brand.

  • Shareable Content: Create slideshows and sizzle reels from event content.
  • Proof of Performance: Create a POP or case study from your event performance that includes ROI and impression data.
  • Follow Up: Continue your relationship with attendees who provided contact information by giving updates on Experiential activations or contest winners.
  • Promote Extended Engagement: Provide links to webinars, future events, relevant products and opportunities to further engage with your brand.

Typical trade show marketing solutions only target attendees before, during or after the event. Strategic integration of digital methods allows trade show marketers to employ the best messaging and platform methods for reaching an audience. It enables the rule of seven, which expands the window for and types of engagement. This gives attendees a deeper understanding of a brand and makes the messaging and call-to-action more effective.


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