Social Media Spotlight: First of a Four-part Series
Social media has transformed the way companies market tradeshows. No one knows this better than renowned tradeshow industry consultant and thought leader Traci Browne.
The author of “The Social Trade Show” has graciously provided us with a series of blog posts that we’ll be posting each week for the next four weeks prior to the 2014 SHOT Show.
I’ll also be giving away free copies of Traci’s book each week. The first two exhibitors (and you need to be a SHOT Show exhibitor to qualify) to send me an email (be sure to include your mailing address) requesting a copy will receive one. Ready. Set. Go!
Five Reasons for Including Social Media in Your Show Marketing Mix
With all the work you already have on your plate to get ready for the show, why add another task? Social media is a growing communication tool, and if you’re not taking advantage of it, you’ll soon be left in everyone else’s dust. But if you need more convincing, here are just five reasons to get you moving.
1. Reach a wider audience.
As sad as this may seem, there are some very qualified buyers who cannot attend this year’s SHOT Show. They might not have the budget to travel or the time to spare. They might have family obligations that prevent them from attending. They want to be there to see all the new products and services available, but they just can’t swing it. But they can and will be following along with what is happening at SHOT Show via social media.
Savvy exhibitors can stand out from their competition by paying attention to these online buyers. Make them feel a part of the event by:
- Live blogging from sessions they are missing.
- Live stream or video demonstrations taking place in your booth.
- Tweet about new products and services you are seeing on the show floor you think they might be interested in by using the #SHOTShow hashtag.
2. Attendees will pay more attention to you.
It’s likely this is not your first SHOT Show rodeo. Even if you are a first time exhibitor at SHOT Show, you probably have some great advice you can impart on the attendees. Share helpful information that attendees will value before and during the show and your company will stay on their radar. People tend to pay attention more to exhibitors who don’t just market at them but those who are helpful as well. What kind of helpful information could you share?
- Tips on great restaurants attendees should check out while in Vegas.
- Tell them where to find the best coffee with the shortest lines closest to the trade show floor.
- Point out sessions taking place with speakers they don’t want to miss.
- Offer to introduce them to industry celebrities you know and who will be at the show.
3. Listen to what your customers are saying.
The SHOT Show is always a great place to do market research. By listening to conversations taking place around the show you can uncover valuable information about what your customers are looking for and what they wish existed in the marketplace.
We’ve always been able to do this in line for coffee, in the hallways between sessions, at the bar or restaurant in the evenings. Now, social media provides you an opportunity to amplify your listening and expose you to conversations taking place even if you’re not in the same room.
Pay particular attention to social media conversations that start with, “I wish…” Where can I find…” and even “I hate…” Chances are you just might have the solution to their problem or know someone who does.
When you are not just pushing your message out on social media but paying attention to what your potential customers are saying, you may over hear things like, “I wish there was a way to connect all my stores’ security systems.” If you are in that business jump on it and invite them to your booth to discuss solutions to their problem. If you are not in that business but know someone that can help them, invite them into your booth to meet that person.
4. Become part of a community.
Social media isn’t a campaign or a tool to be rolled out a week or two before the show. It is a commitment of time and resources undertaken so your company can connect not just with customers and potential customers at an event, but also with your industry’s larger community; a community of other suppliers, associations, media representatives, thought leaders, potential employees, mentors, and mentees.
Being an active member of a community builds your company’s reputation as a trusted solution provider and its employees as thought leaders in your industry. People in your community will get to know your company as more than just a brand. Buyers will start seeking you out and listening to what you have to say. Your company will be put on people’s “must see vendor” list.
5. Expand the length of the show.
Let’s face it, a lot of buyers are coming to SHOT Show, and there will be a lot for them to see and do. Chances are there are a few people who might miss you. By incorporating social media into your marketing and communications mix you won’t have to wait until next year to see them. You can easily continue the conversation and continue reaching out to potential buyers long after the show by doing the things mentioned above.
Just remember, keep your audience needs in mind when communicating on social media. It shouldn’t just be all about you.
Author of “The Social Trade Show – Leveraging Social Media and Virtual Events to Connect With Your Customers
Chris Dolnack is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDolnack.