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Getting pre-social with events - a step-by-step guide to making your next tradeshow a winner before you even show up

Ah, yes. Tradeshows. Simultaneously the best and worst things about being in sales and marketing.

The name badges. The finger foods. The small talk. The free booze. Well, I guess tradeshows aren't ALL bad!

If you've been in the sales world or the marketing world for any length of time, either you or someone you know has attended a tradeshow. This blog will walk you through just how to set your business up for success with minimal effort on your part, so you can get back to grubbin' on those mini sliders and Stellas. 

SXSW Tradeshow Floor Action Ready Marketing Getting social with events

What to do before a tradeshow

Pre-show. You're getting amped up. You're booking flights. You're booking hotels. You're seeing what there is to do in your destination city. You're finagling dinner plans with partners, customers, and other vendors. All necessary. But what are you missing? Talking about actually going to the tradeshow. Here's what you need to do:

1. Set up a series of emails to go out to your client base, a list of attendees from years past or the current year if they'll let you access that. This should be no more than three emails, but no less than two. The first one should be an announcement... Just something short and sweet to the effect of "Hey, we're going to be at XYZ Tradeshow, if you're going to be there, we'd love to set up a time to chat!" (If you want to get really fancy, you can even set up an online scheduling tool where you input your availability and people can actually book appointments with you.) But the beauty of this? You, the solo warrior that you are, can do this for just about everyone at your organization. Setting up a drip email series is easy in something like a MailChimp or Constant Contact. If you have 4 people attending the tradeshow, get their permission, and set up 4 similar similar emails (not identical, you don't want the recipient thinking it's spam) to go out from the 4 different email addresses. This is a great way to get your name and brand out there. If you'd rather, just send from the brand and say something like "The Acme Co. is going to be at The Best Tradeshow Ever (TBTE) 2018! Come see us in booth 14!" Pro tip: Make sure it's coming from an actual person, as studies show people are more inclined to interact with emails that come from a person's name (i.e. Dave at Acme Co.). After that, schedule up 2 more emails. The next one giving them something they want. This might be a whitepaper you've created, a cool video, blog, or even just something silly for them to watch on the plane. This should go out just a day or two before the show. Finally, schedule up one email the night of the first day of the tradeshow. Say something like "I hope you had a great first day at TBTE 2018! Let's schedule a time tomorrow to meet." Tradeshow attendees typically run through emails after their obligatory dinners and drinks. This is a great way to lead into a fruitful day 2.

2. Schedule up social posts. Similar to your emails you've scheduled up, hit LinkedIn. Draft at least 2 messages, put them in your email, notes, save them in a Word doc or whatever works for you. The first post should be just announcing your intent to be at the show. Short & simple... Are you going to be at TBTE 2018? So will I! Let's connect. And put some image. Likely the image of the logo of the tradeshow you're going to. This will catch your network's eye as they're scrolling through their LinkedIn feed.  Then, after you get settled in at the show, Day 1, post a photo of your booth, table, or a selfie with a caption that reads something to the effect of "At TBTE 2018, Booth 14... Come say hey!" 

3. Get something "else" out there. If your company does press releases, get a press release out. If you blog, get a blog out. This will trigger your brand's name in the news or on any RSS subscribers, or even Google Alerts that people (probably customers or competitors) have set up. This would be the icing on the cake leading into the tradeshow.

In all, these three things shouldn't take more than an hour or two of uninterrupted, heads down work. Or contact us today for help! We will help you make the most out of your next tradeshow.

Ryan Williams