Hopefully you’re in the midst of planning your 2017 CeBIT Australia booth. You’ve got your layout planned, your featured technology is going to dazzle like a holographic disco ball and your giveaways are so awesome they make the humble pen look as appealing as a discarded tissue. Well done you! But before you grab yourself a celebratory beverage, you need to stop and make sure you have a promotional plan to match.
An exhibition is more involved than Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, so a simple: ‘yep I’ve built it and now ... they come’ attitude is not going to cut it. (Although it would be very remiss of us not to mention the year that Nvidia literally pulled an amazing field stunt for CES trade show in Las Vegas, so in that case people didn’t just come, they went bonkers).
Yet we are constantly surprised at how often we see businesses half-heartedly promote their booths the week before the event. If you want to truly maximise your ROI you need to have a strategy in place months ahead, so that you’re getting lots of the right customers seeking you out.
Below we’re going to talk you through four easy ways to promote your exhibition so that during the event itself, all that hard work will lead to the real reward: a killer ROI.
1. Get on the social bandwagon
One of the simplest, most effective things you can do is to start following the event’s hashtag and contribute to it. For example for CeBIT Australia 2017 we’re using #CeBITAus. Because the hashtag of the exhibition is well-known, you are giving your business broader reach as well as ensuring that you’re a part of the conversation. Social media can also provide a very organic way to reach out to customers who will be attending. As Max Doyle, Managing Director of Hello Social, suggests, ‘if you find something relevant, don’t be scared to jump onto a hashtag and start a conversation with a company or a customer.’ As long as the conversation feels authentic it can be a fantastic way to generate awareness before an event.
You should also be using your social media channels to announce your attendance, to give tantalising tidbits about a new product you may be launching, or teasing your audience with that awesome giveaway. In terms of timing, Brand chemistry’s Digital Marketing Specialist, Serena Chuan, recommends after your initial announcement you should be posting something up every week, starting a month out from the event, and slowly increasing the frequency of the posting the closer you get to the event. She says ‘it’s about finding the balance between reminding your followers that you’re attending and overdoing it to the extent that they become alienated and switch-off.’
2. Be a thought leader
Another great way to promote your presence is to get key members of your team involved in thought leadership, be it through podcasts, video content, or guest-blog posts. Thought leadership is more than just blatantly spruiking your new product, service or even your business, it’s about demonstrating expertise in your field.
There are two key elements to thought-leadership: making would-be customers aware of you as a person and also making them aware of your company brand. These two components are linked, because one has a positive impact on the other. The focus at this stage is building relationships, not selling. You aren’t just raising awareness for your business, you are cementing yourselves as innovative leaders of the pack, cultivating trust and solving pain-points for your would-be customers. Look out for opportunities to contribute. We suggest the following:
- Keep your eye out for controversial new topics that you can talk about (cybersecurity attacks, how AI will affect the health industry etc...) with Google alerts
- Subscribe to industry publications
- Become active in relevant LinkedIn groups
- Give advice on industry blogs (on how to pitch to would-be investors, why your company promotes telecommuting etc...)
Sharing your own smarts and opinions out also allows exhibition goers to put a face to the great ideas, while showing that your company is comprised of cool, whip-smart people who are generous with their expertise. It makes your business more approachable, more exciting and more human.
3. Be strategic with your email campaign
We can’t stress this enough: An email strategy shouldn’t consist of realising that your event is around the corner and spamming your entire database in a blind panic. It’s not just a useless waste of your time, you actually risk alienating current and potential customers. Instead we suggest sending a personalised email only to a target account list, one whole month before your event, letting them know that you will be attending. Email campaigns are more powerful when they are aligned with an incentive. For example, Marketo suggests hosting a breakfast for target accounts and sending them an invite to a breakfast during the event, or announcing an exclusive demonstration of your product.
4. Get an email banner
A month before the event, you can also increase awareness for your participation at an event by creating an email banner at the bottom of your emails. It can be designed, or it can be something as simple as an email signature stating something to the effect of ‘we’ll be at stand 8 at this years’ CeBIT. Come and say hi and have a coffee with us.’ You could supplement this by hosting an event CTA on your webpage. CeBIT also have an excellent ebook on how you can make the most of the event.
We hope that these tips have helped you think about how you are going to approach your pre-exhibition promotion. If you are considering exhibiting and want to know more about how it can provide you with a great ROI for your business, you should consider looking into exhibiting at CeBIT Australia 2017 (it’s certainly not too late!)