Inbound marketing is a philosophy rooted in the idea that people value personalized, relevant content – not interruptive messages.
The inbound marketing methodology is about helping brands attract, convert, close and delight visitors, leads and customers through a variety of channels like social media, blogging, SEO and email. In essence, inbound marketing pulls customers to your company instead of shouting at them with interruptive messages.
So can trade shows fit in with that new approach to marketing? They sure can.
For many companies, trade shows have played an important role in reaching their marketing and sales objectives. The problem is that many companies are not making the most of their trade show investments by linking them to their inbound marketing efforts.
A traditional trade show marketing mentality persists with some companies that exhibiting is the main event. And that most of the work happens once the trade show starts. But the reality is that most of the trade show work should take place leading up to the show in the planning stage.
Planning for a trade show doesn’t start a month in advance. It doesn’t start two months in advance. In fact, it can take anywhere from six months to a year of planning to do it right.
Trade show marketing is a very strategic process. You have to come up with your strategy and messaging, and make sure everything relates back to your business goals.
This includes all your online and offline promotions, any handouts and even the giveaways you distribute. It is no simple task and not every trade show is the same, but if you take it one step at a time you can have a successful inbound trade show that achieves high return on investment (ROI).
Most important, once you figure out how the trade show can meet your business goals, figure out if the cost is worth it. Will you make up for the money you spend on trade shows on new customers and increased revenue? Figure out the ROI of sending your staff to the trade show. Could they be doing something else that is cheaper and more effective to generate leads?
Your inbound marketing efforts should help your business achieve specific goals and metrics. Trade shows are no different. Trade shows present an opportunity to get quality leads, spread brand awareness and meet other objectives.
The goals of a trade show can include:
As you set your goals, make sure you have access to metrics that will enable you to track progress. Ensure that your marketing system can measure these channels and provide evidence to management about the performance of your event.
Once you set your goal and decide what metrics you will use to track progress, you will need to figure out how to get there. What will be the means of achieving your goals?
While you are creating your strategy, make sure you are thinking about what your call-to-action (CTA) will be. Your CTA should be integrated into every aspect of your strategy because, ultimately, it will be the key to reaching your goal. Consider the CTA’s role in everything, including your signs, landing page, booth, goals and metrics.
In trade shows, as with inbound marketing, the call-to-action remains the key element connecting your goals with the means of achieving them.
photo credit: ljlphotography via photopincc | graphics courtesy of HubSpot