Promoting Events or Trade Shows

So you’ve got your stand at a trade show or professional event confirmed. Exciting times! Naturally you want to make the most of this and get some PR or publicity around it, but where to begin?

Firstly, most events will already have official sponsors who pay a lot of money to have their logo splashed all over marketing materials and social media. In addition you and every other company involved will be hoping to leverage their involvement for publicity. This isn’t meant to put you off – merely manage your expectations about the level of interest press is likely to have.

Promoting an event is a lot of hard work – but definitely worth the effort if you can garner assets for social media, reach new followers and make a profit.

Event organisers: It’s worth contacting the event’s PR team to find out what’s on offer. It’s not uncommon for an event to have a Press Preview evening where journalists get a sneak preview and a press pack to take away – perhaps your press release or small product could be included in the product or press goodie bag?

Ask them about social media too – what’s the official hash tags to use? Would they retweet any of your tweets? Find out how they like to work it. You may be surprised, if someone is short of content perhaps you could draft a 500 word guest blog post about why you’re excited to be showing at their event? This would be a win win – free contact for them and exposure for you, plus lots of fodder for social media to boot. If they don’t mind linking the blog post back to your website this will also help your SEO.

Offer to be a guest speaker if someone drops out. It’s a long shot as these things are normally agreed way in advance but just waving your banner about why you’d make a great speaker could be something that comes back to you. Again it’s great content, gets your name out to a wider audience and positions you as an expert in your field. You’d also be helping the event organisers out of a tight spot if somebody does drop out.

Message: How much is it? Where is it? Who can attend? What will they learn? Simply saying there’s an event happening isn’t much of a ‘call to action’. Really upsell the benefits of what attending your event can provide to those lucky enough to attend. Seduce them with what exclusive knowledge they will learn. Make them feel that being at this event is literally the golden ticket to their future!

Instagram: You can use up to 30 hash tags on Instagram. It’s worth using them all. Some people may warn you against this as it can look “spammy” but as a start up with a small budget, now isn’t the time to get too precious. Our rule of thumb is don’t use more than 5 has tags in the Instagram caption. Paste the other 25 in the first comment below, that way it won’t appear as a long line in people’s feed. Use a free hashtag generator to help you think of good ones if you get stuck like this one: http://www.all-hashtag.com/

Twitter: It’s about your contact’s contacts. Ask everyone who you work with to get behind your campaign and retweet your tweets about your upcoming event. Be sure to include a call to action – are you asking people to sign up to find out more? Buy a ticket from a link? Read a blog post about it? No sense just saying words for the sake of it. Again using a couple of clever hash tags can really make the difference. Worth checking with the event if they are using specific hash tags too so you can join the conversation.

Facebook: Although Facebook seems to be considered old hat, it’s definitely worth cross promoting adapted content from your Instagram on your Facebook channels, be they a professional page or your on personal profile. Like I say, it’s about your contact’s contacts and you never know who may see it.  Again encourage all your staff and supporters to like and share.

Linked In: Often forgotten about, but if your event or trade show is B2B specific now is a really good time to start publishing content on LinkedIn. Setting up your company page is relatively straight forward, ask all your employees to update their profiles to show your company page on their profile too. Start promoting your event USP and give a clear call to action e.g. We’re be showing you how to cut out the middle man and sell widgets at 40% less at WidgetCom on Friday 13th June at Olympia stand B2. Sign up for your free ticket now by licking this link: xxx. Ask all your team to like and share too.

Your blog: If you have your own company blog page, this is also a great place to promote your upcoming event. Again be sure to include a call to action for people to buy tickets or dial in to a webinar, etc. and a follow up blog post to capture highlights or best bits. The event may be over but followers of your brand who couldn’t make it will be interested to read about how it went and share on social. And so it goes on.

Timing: My final thought is to have faith and be patient. Six weeks out is a good time to start promoting, but you’ve got to pump out a reminder almost every day on one platform or another just to keep the momentum going. And get all your supporters behind it too. This on top of actually planning and organising your stand, you can see how PR and marketing is a full time job. Even just executing a couple of the ideas above would help.