Turn Your Next Trade Show From a Total Flop to Triumphant with Inbound

by Kaitlyn Macri on June 19, 2013

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Turn Your Next Trade Show From a Total Flop to Triumphant with InboundMany consider trade shows to be an outbound approach to marketing and reaching your audience.


However, it doesn’t always have to be outbound. You can take an inbound approach.


When most people think trade shows, they’re often flooded with visions of cell phone kiosks at the mall, complete with salesmen tossing pamphlets and spitting sales pitches at them at rapid pace.


Most companies will turn their trade show experience into an outbound approach. Targeting mass audiences in the hope that they’ll find a few potential customers out of the many.  The Foundation of making your trade show inbound is creating a unique campaign built around the show itself. You want to come up with something new, fresh and exciting.


Your main goal should be to stand out at the trade show among the other businesses. You want everyone to be talking about your booth and your company.


Planning Your Inbound Trade Show


If you want to stand out, it’s important that you don’t go the traditional route. Not only will everyone be passing out traditional marketing collateral such as pamphlets, brochures, business cards, and even the same branded key chain. That can get pretty old.


I should also note that everyone will be wearing suits, ties and dress shoes. If you dress accordingly, don’t expect to be found in the sea of other vendors. If you’re walking around the venue, you want it to be easy for attendees to spot you. Consider coordinating your wardrobe with your campaign.


A trade show isn’t something you should start planning one month before the event. In the ideal situation, you should start some where around a year to six months prior to the day of the trade show. You need to develop goals. You cannot just go into the trade show and let it happen. How are you going to track and measure its success?


Consider developing these types of goals:



  • Generate X amount of qualified leads for sales to contact

  • Drive people ­– through collateral – back to your website

  • Generate buzz throughout event

  • Acquire X amount of email contacts


Taking an Inbound Marketing Approach


Inbound marketing lets prospects and leads find you. Therefore, you no longer need to harass them and shove your marketing message in their face.


To develop an inbound marketing approach to your trade show, you’ll want to:



  • Create buzz for your company

  • Stand out among the other booths

  • Grab the attention of the attendees

  • Appeal to your target audience

  • Be web friendly


You will most likely find that the more people and prospects coming to your booth are more qualified and actually interested in learning more about your company.


When those interested and qualified people start coming up to your booth, don’t be intrusive. They came to your booth in the first place because you stood out from the crowd. You didn’t go the traditional route.


While engaging with those individuals that stop by your booth, you want to have a meaningful conversation. In order to have meaningful conversations and make valuable connections, you need to introduce a little context into the experience.


Don’t just use your trade show to interact with the attendees, use this opportunity to engage and interact with the other businesses and booths.


For all you skeptics out there, this can be done. While everyone is throwing the pamphlets they've obtained into the nearest trashcan, they will be keeping your flag items and remembering the great experience your booth and company provided.


Need help taking your trade show to the next level? Check out our latest ebook for five ways to ensure that you stand out  and you're the booth everyone remembers.

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