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I have been walking shows for nearly a quarter of a century and I still get excited each time I do. It’s the energy and the glitz and glamour of show biz that keeps me coming back for more. It’s especially interesting to watch a show during set up, sometimes from the vantage point of a balcony of mezzanine. Beneath me I see the organized chaos of hundreds of people scurrying around, forklift trucks lifting wooden boxes and empty spaces being converted into showpieces - each piece of the jigsaw puzzle magically coming together.

Try watching the show you are exhibiting in take form. See if you aren’t as impressed as I am. But, we don’t have to keep this excitement our little secret, my guess is that lots of your customers might really enjoy seeing the sights and sounds of a trade show even if they can’t attend. You can share the experience through the technology of social media. 

I read an article in Exhibitor Magazine which reported that the Freedman Decorating Company of Dallas, Texas used Twitter to bring visitors to their booth. That sounds easy enough. They had a significant following on Twitter so by offering a $5.00 Starbucks coupon and an opportunity to hear about their latest offerings, their pre-show promotion took on a whole new look.

But, you have the power to take your show promotion even further. For example the technology giant Intel Corporation posted images and videos on YouTube and Flicker for people around the globe who could not attend one of their major international conferences. These absentee customers could see new products, hear speeches and share in the experience of a show.

It’s pretty easy to explore the world of YouTube. Visit www.youTube.com and enter trade shows. When I did it I was quite impressed. I found one video that received 1,940,425 views and another with 1,276,956. While this may be beyond most company’s realistic expectations you can still achieve a viewership. With a bit more searching I found a video posted by Auto Page, an automotive solutions retailer, who shot as video at their show in Las Vegas and received 5,019 views and Freeline Skates who manufactures skate, surf and snow boards, exhibiting at in San Diego received 981 views.

Think about it. Freeline Skates was able to attract 981 people who spend 2:38 minutes watching a video about their products. That’s not bad.  

So, if you are looking to beef up your show promotion efforts with a minimum of costs keep social media in mind.

Here are a couple of things to consider:

•    Take serious steps to developing a social media site on Twitter, LinkedIn, Flicker or Facebook to encourage the people you want to follow you with interesting and timely information. You can also use social media to invite guests to your display.

•    Videos don’t have to be broadcast quality. You can take it on your I Phone. An interview with a customer at your booth, a tour of your booth or a walk around the show may do the trick.

•    Video don’t have to be lengthy. The most popular videos on YouTube were those in the 2 – 4 minute range.

•    Focus on the experience. Keep away from the tendency to reiterate information your customers can already see on your web-site and focus more on the experience they are missing at the show.

•    There is no limit to the number of videos you can post. You can do a comparison of your display this year to the one you had last year to let your customers know that you really listened to their feedback. Perhaps you can do a mini version of an in-booth presentation or take a time-lapse video of your booth under construction.

Promoting your attendance at a trade show is crucial, but the methods have changed largely because of the demographic shifts in your customer base. Years ago sending out a thousand e-mails might have done the trick, but not today.  The Generation X’s and Millennials who are technology savvy, demand information in bit size chunks.

About the Author:

Barry Siskind is President of International Training and Management Company, a Toronto based consulting firm specializing in helping exhibitors achieve top performance at their trade and consumer shows. He is the author of The Power of Exhibit Marketing. Each year Barry travels throughout the world helping exhibitors improve their return on the show investment.



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