Using Inbound Marketing To Promote Your Trade Show Displays

LinkWall Voice of America-resized-600Today, there are more tools than ever at your disposal for promoting your trade show booths. The Internet and online marketing have become incredible tools for spreading the word about appearances your company will be making, but only if you make good use of it.

Your website can be a powerful tool for driving people to your award winning expo displays. It makes a great central information hub for storing everything regarding your upcoming trade show appearances, creating an all-in-one source for your upcoming plans. Virtually all of your online activities can be geared towards driving people to your website which, in turn, should hopefully get the more fired up about your trade show displays!

So, while this isn’t strictly an Internet marketing blog, let’s talk a bit about inbound marketing and how you can apply it to your exposition appearances!

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Simply put, inbound marketing is about gently guiding people to your website to learn about your trade show displays, rather than using pushier methods.

The basic idea is that people don’t like being interrupted by advertisements, and never have. While changing the channel was always an option with TV or radio, the way programming is presented on them helps ensure most people stick around for the ads. Few people are so annoyed by an ad that it actually causes them to shut off a program they’re enjoying.

On the Internet, however, that sort of continuity is missing. If you hit someone with an advertisement online they don’t want to see, chances are, they’re just going to click on another website. There’s almost nothing compelling a visitor to stay, so you have to make sure not to scare them off.

So, inbound marketing focuses on finding ways of putting your website in front of viewers so that they want to visit it, rather than feeling strong-armed into viewing it.

How Can Inbound Marketing Be Applied To Trade Show Displays?custom 10x10 trade show exhibit with tension fabric back wall and counter

There are several different techniques that get bundled up as “inbound marketing,” so let’s look at a few and how each can be applied to your exposition booth appearances!

I. Blogging

Blogging is the bread and butter of inbound marketing, and blogging about your trade show display well in advance of its appearance will do a lot to boost awareness of it.

However, you don’t want to simply write any ol’ blog. What you want are some targeted keywords that directly relate to your appearance, which people online might be searching for to find you. An obvious example of this sort of search would be “E3 Exposition Attendees.” If you’re planning on going to E3, you’d want to sprinkle terms like that throughout the blogs.

This causes Google to tie your blog more closely to those keywords so, when someone searches for “E3 exposition attendees,” you’d be one of the top hits. This free keyword tool from Google can help you find the best ones to promote your exposition appearance.

If you happen to be on friendly terms with any journalists or fellow bloggers in your field, inviting them to do a guest blog that relates to your trade show appearance is another great option for building more buzz.

II. Calls To Action and Landing Pages

Calls to Action (CTAs) and landing pages are two inbound marketing techniques that go hand-in-hand. A landing page is simply a page on your website dedicated to presenting a single offer to the visitor, usually one which is free in exchange for some personal information. A CTA is a banner, button, link or other advertisement on your site that directly asks the visitor to click to receive the freebie.

That is to say, if you’ve ever seen a website with a line like Click Here for a Free Marketing E-Book you’ve seen an example of a Call to Action, in action. These can be placed on your website itself, or they can be included in social media, emails, or other mass electronic communications.

In the case of your trade show booths, what you would want to do is create a landing page (or more than one) which directly relates to your exposition appearance, and invites the visitor to become part of it somehow. This could be as basic as signing them up for your mailing list, or the offer could be as fancy as you want to make it.

If you’re planning on running a contest or other interactive activity that would require people to sign up ahead of your exposition appearance, the combination of CTAs and landing pages are the perfect way to fill up your list. Plus, of course, the same keyword strategies you use in your blog can be used on these pages as well to further boost their effectiveness.

III. Social Media Interactionsbenz-photo-main-2

Social media is the “third leg” of inbound marketing. You’re probably already using social media to promote your trade show displays. If you aren’t, it’s time you begun!

Besides pushing your own status updates and Tweets, however, you should also make sure that every post you make to your blog – and potentially every page on your site – has a full suite of social sharing buttons. This is another way your blog can pay off in promoting your exposition displays: If you write great articles about your industry, trade shows, or any other subject that catches peoples’ eye, they’ll do your marketing for you.

This may seem a bit counter-intuitive, or even like wishful thinking, but Dan Zarella’s research shows it is effective. More Tweets, more Facebook posts, and more time spent encouraging people to share your materials with their friends should have a definite positive impact on your website hits and, therefore, in your trade show display outreach as well.

Getting Started With Inbound Marketing for Your Trade Show Exhibits & Displays

Pre-planning is the most important thing here. One of the major issues with inbound marketing is that it can be slow to pay off, since you’re relying on momentum building over time, as people visit your site. Consider one month to be the absolute minimum amount of time you’d want to spend building an inbound campaign, and ideally, a timeframe more like three to six months is better.

Otherwise, it’s really just a matter of making the initial materials. Come up with a couple unique offers to put into your Calls To Action, and start working on blogs with keywords. It’s going to be slow to build, so don’t get discouraged.

The key to successful inbound marketing – whether it’s for a trade show display or any other purpose – is to stick with it. Be consistent, keep the blogs and social media updates coming and, most importantly, make sure you have good content.

The combination of a great blog, great CTA offers, and social media promotion will boost awareness of your expo displays and upcoming appearances far beyond what you could have gotten with offline advertising alone!

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