TRADE SHOWS! – You LOVE them, you HATE them!
Let’s be real – marketers LOVE them because where else can you build your list in a matter of two days and have great conversations, and network with your audience. You HATE them because of all the preparation, hard work, and most importantly the cost. Everyone is excited to be in person again, but how have trade shows changed since the eruption of Covid.
Last year, virtual trade shows took center stage as the alternate option to in-person events. Luckily, for us, we landed one of our largest clients. So for us, the answer is YES. It was definitely worth it.
The great thing about the Virtual Trade Shows was the fact that you could target exactly who you wanted to talk to, connect with, and hopefully, schedule meetings with them. This is why I love digital. You can track everything! You could evaluate the analytics, who was in your room, how long, and where they clicked.
COVID forced us into the world of virtual events and we all had to make the shift to understanding how we can best leverage them. But, now as the world slowly shifts back to normalcy, in-person trade shows are back! Yay!
So, are you ready to talk about trade show marketing? Let’s get started!
Trades Shows are a powerful marketing tool to create buzz and promote your company. Learn how you can maximize your trade show experience before, during, and after the event!
Exhibiting at trade shows is a great way to find new customers and grow your business. The investment is worth it because of the one-on-one conversations with other people in your industry, potential partners, or prospects. One conversation can easily outweigh all costs combined!
Here they are, your [Must Have] Keys To Trade Show Success & ROI.
Get Your Game Face On! Let the world know you are back and ready to get to work!
Write a press release announcing your attendance at your Trade Show of Choice. It is important to notify everyone of the booth number, what product or service you will be showcasing, and the free resources you will be having. If you have appointment slots available, fill them!
Create Social Media Posts announcing your preparation for the show. You can create fun and interactive posts in your conference room brainstorming ideas for the trade show, sneak peeks, or hints at what your giveaways will be. Most of your team will be traveling in the airport, pictures of packing/unpacking, and getting things set up at the event are great posts. You can tag other partners that you plan on meeting with at the event or customers that you will be supporting or helping promote for the event. Don’t worry about being too creative! People like the element of surprise, so it’s okay to have a little fun with it!
Send out an email blast before the event to start creating that brand awareness. By creating an email drip campaign or countdown to the trade show you will create some fun anticipation leading up to the event. Not only will it create some excitement but it will be a reminder to others that you are on top of things and have a well-organized, thought-out plan, but that you are having fun planning your event. Your excitement will inspire action and get others motivated to get on the ball with their planning
Do your research and know what to expect before you go.
Most of the time, the trade show organizations will provide you with a list of all vendors on their websites. Try to schedule meetings with people you want to connect with while you are at the event, during the trade show, or after hours. Plan your networking accordingly. Make restaurant reservations ahead of time for your team, have extra seats at your table for special VIP guests, and give them the opportunity to network with your team. You can schedule at least 4 weeks before, if not earlier. The more you can prepare before you go, the better.
Create a unique hashtag. Have fun with it and create a unique hashtag to see how many searches you will get.
In an era where everyone is hashtagging their posts with a variety of different tags to “get attention” and post on social media, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Try something that will make you stand out as unique.
Tips on creating a unique hashtag:
Be about a specific event
Remain on brand
The most popular hashtags according to the website sociallypowerful.com the following is a list of the most popular hashtags #love
Click here to see the full list of the most popular instgram hashtags.
According to the website, Best-Hashtags.com, The most popular trade show tags are:
Start Following your dream clients
Don’t be afraid, it is okay to start following your dream clients. If you don’t know what a dream client is, I will write another blog post on that!
Chances are, your partners may have a larger following than you so it is helpful to be shown with them in posts or by tagging them.
Go Live on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!
Many of our clients get a little nervous about going live! I get it, I am an introvert, I don’t like being on camera myself. However, it is great exposure and you can have live interaction with the audience. Be Authentic. People want to know YOU, so just be real. However, proceed with caution and be careful. You don’t want to use the word “cannabis” for fear of being shadowbanned. Keep your focus on educating the community about effects, growth cycle, or how you can help the industry be more successful.
Try To Post on social media 3 times a day while at the show. Decide on your social media of choice. Keep in mind who you will be talking to. Are you talking to executives, growers, technicians, or partners? I have found that Instagram is a great audience for the cannabis industry. But, as mentioned earlier, choose your words carefully.
Bonus: Demographic info on the top social platforms to help you choose your platform of focus:
Facebook – 2.8 Billion Users – 71% market share.
Facebook users’ biggest age group is 25-34, but age 35+gradually declines in the audience. Source: https://www.statista.com/topics/751/facebook/
Instagram – 1 billion million active users ages 18-34, male-dominated, with women following their lead. After age 35+ the audience dramatically decreases. Source: https://www.statista.com/topics/1882/instagram/
Linked In: B2B – 756 Million Users
4 out of 5 linked-in members drive the decision process and Linked In’s audience has 2x the buying power! Source: https://www.statista.com/topics/951/linkedin/
Pinterest – 454 Million Users –
Take a moment, breathe… you made it! Write up your takeaways and recap and post on social and email clients an update on what you learned.
Follow up with all leads, not just hot leads. This is the biggest mistake that I see with my clients. After they get back to the office, they get busy catching up on other work and 2 weeks later, they follow up. If you don’t have a marketing automation platform, this is a great way to be more efficient and make sure that you do follow up with your leads. A good example of a marketing automation platform would be Hubspot or Sharpspring.
Add to drip campaigns to keep prospects top of mind with regularly scheduled emails. A good example of a drip campaign should be focused on education. Keep in mind the “give and get philosophy”. The more you give (or educate), the more you will be remembered, and you will establish trust and be referred to as the expert in your field.
Now that you know what to do before, during, and after the trade show, make sure you measure your results. Take advantage of the new list you acquired from the show and segment the list into different categories based on their stage in the buying process. This will ensure you know what message will most resonate with them. Even if the prospect is not ready to buy today, they may be tomorrow. Target them through your marketing activities to stay top of mind and to be the company they think of when they are ready to purchase.
Enjoy The Show(s)!
Michele Ringelberg, the owner of ThrivePOP, has over 20 years of experience in visual communication, marketing, and web development. Michele works with small to medium-sized businesses as a seasoned marketing and online expert. She consults with business owners and senior executives and takes great pride in being a consultant who knows and understands how to get real results from digital and inbound marketing, specializing in the Cannabis Industry. Some clients include Pipp Horticulture, Fohse Lighting, Ubigro, and others.
A recent graduate of the Small Business Administration Emerging Leadership Program, Michele’s dedication and willingness to be a great leader was quickly demonstrated by her willingness to drive to Detroit weekly for classes. Michele is a visionary with strong business acumen and a passion for leveraging technology to help the business generate business demand and increase revenues. In addition, Michele has received recognition in nationwide marketing competitions where she demonstrated her marketing campaigns and results in technology, thus achieving the title of Marketing Genius of the year for her creativity, passion, and ability to get people excited about marketing with proven results and increased revenue.
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