Effective, Insight-Led Trade Show Follow-Up with Content Marketing

By
Mandy Movahhed
May 26, 2015

There comes a time in every wholesaler’s life where, as lucrative as existing relationships are, it’s time to hit the trade show floor and hustle some new leads. A few days’ worth of hard work can have a huge impact on your results in the coming months (or even years) as those new relationships deepen. It can be difficult, however, to execute an effective follow-up strategy that will eventually win you that new business. What if, long after the trade show had closed its doors, you could follow up with prospects with information that they’d actually pay attention to? What if that eventually led to the first order of many down the road? One way to provide more effective follow-up after a trade show is through what’s called “content marketing.” The content (e.g. blog posts) you create and publish on the Internet can help you continue the conversation and get new business relationships off the ground. You may even close sales based on the strength of your content. Creating that great trade show follow-up content, however, is not necessarily easy. Just as there are tricks behind getting attention at trade shows, creating the right type of content to generate interest can be tricky. Here’s how to make it all come together.

Preparing for Trade Show Follow-up: Gather the Right Information

As you’re setting your goals and objectives for a particular show in the weeks or months of pre-show planning, be sure to include goals around gathering insights on what your customers and prospects might be interested in. If there will be a speeches or seminars at the show, consider asking a speaker for a short interview or simply their opinion on one or two relevant subjects. Do your homework before the show to get in contact with these thought leaders. Another great technique is to prepare a set of basic questions to ask everyone who passes by your booth. Depending on how industry-specific the trade show is, you may consider asking visitors to complete a survey or opinion poll on, for example, how they think the sector will do over the next quarter, what they think the biggest trends will be next season, etc. Here, you’re gathering valuable market intelligence insights that people will want to see. Try to keep any survey short, but be eager to discuss if visitors are willing. There are great survey tools for trade shows, which can also help you capture the contact information of new leads. Be sure you are prepared to take copious notes or find other ways to record all of these interactions. You’ll need them later when it’s content creation time. If you already have some great digital content ready-made, you might be interested to know that more and more companies are using electronic literature in order to create a kiosk experience allowing attendees to select what content they want and have it sent instantaneously to their inboxes. Follow-up becomes much easier when you have a set of names, email addresses, and a clear overview of what content they were interested in seeing.

Slice, Dice, and Publish

After the trade show is over and the dust has settled, you can get to work sifting through the raw information you’ve gathered to package it up into some great content. The overriding principle here is that if the information is interesting or useful to you and your business, it will likely also be interesting or useful to someone else working in your space and especially to someone who may potentially do business with you. Here are few ideas to get you started producing content based on your ideas from the trade show.

  1. Present information that you gleaned from other trade show attendees. If you ran a survey, you can share its results with your readers. If you asked a survey question like, “What do you think will be the biggest trend this upcoming season?” people are going to want to know what others in their industry are saying.
  2. Share thought leadership. Informal chats with customers can also reveal nuggets of information that others in your space will be eager to learn. If you landed an interview, transcribe it and publish it so others can learn from it. Even these insights are coming from others, readers will associate them with your brand for bringing them to their attention. (Of course, make sure to get permission to use any quotes, etc. from the interviewee beforehand).
  3. Summarize formal presentations that were given during the course of the trade show. Trade show attendees who may not have seen one of the presentations or seminars at a trade show will be grateful for the recap.
  4. Analyze and comment on all of the above. Providing your own thought leadership is a great way to give your brand strength and credibility, as well as open up new dialogues. When it comes to B2B relationships, more depth means more profits.

Remember that all of this needs to happen very quickly after the end of a trade show. In addition to processing any orders you may have received at the show, make this content creation a priority for those leads who have not yet placed and order. Rather than having your sales team follow up with just an email looking for a meeting, give them something that will make your prospects sit up and pay attention. If, for instance, your reps sends  an email that includes a personal note along with an “Trade Show Trend Report,” it’s much more likely that they’ll get that meeting. Don’t forget to publish your content online as well; the Internet is home to millions of potential leads who are prowling cyberspace in search of information. In other words, don’t let your trade shows be just trade shows. Farm them for online content and reap the benefits for the years to come.