Housewares industry trades shows, like the International Home + Housewares Show, are full of innovative new products, eye-catching booths, and plenty of networking and business opportunities What’s not to love? However, if you’re like many of our clients and the brands we’ve talked to during almost 20 years of working with the International Housewares Association, you want to make sure the connections you make last beyond the show, right? Easier said than done. Too often the excitement wears off, contact information gets lost in the shuffle, and daily responsibilities take back over, causing valuable buzz and connections to fizzle out. You’re paying a lot of money to be at the show, so let’s make sure that those connections last is by driving people to your website and online platforms. That way, they can learn more about your brand and stay in touch long after the show is over. With that in mind, here are five easy ways you can drive show attendees to your digital platforms:
1. Make use of employees and their personal social accounts.
Whether it’s a quick conversation at your booth or a keynote session, your employees may be the first (and only) interaction someone has with your business. You can make the most of personal interactions at trade shows by including employees’ personal social handles — particularly LinkedIn and Twitter — on business cards, presentation slides, meeting agendas, name tags, and more, and encouraging them post and engage during the event. If a potential lead isn’t ready to take the plunge and connect directly with your brand, they may be more comfortable connecting with an employee they already chatted with in a less formal way. Since employees should be promoting your company's core values on social, they’ll be helping to keep your brand top of mind and foster a valuable personal connection until that contact is ready to move forward on a more official basis with your company.
Before turning employees loose on social, we recommend implementing a solid social media policy to make sure everyone is on the same page and portraying your brand in a positive light. Remember, you’re employees are powerful brand ambassadors and you hired them for a reason. Set some ground rules and let their personalities shine during the show and beyond!
2. Utilize technology to capture leads at your booth.
Trade shows are hectic. It’s easy to forget to grab someone’s contact information or loose business cards and notes in all the hustle and bustle. Then of course, you have to keep straight who’s who when you’re looking through your notes later on. By using laptops, smartphones, and tablets that are booted up and ready to go, people can quickly engage and connect right at your booth. There’s no chance of forgetting and technology makes it easy to keep details in one place and share among colleagues.
We recommend using a handy lead retrieval system to take things a step further. You’ll be able to quickly and efficiently gather contact information and follow up appropriately. Lead retrieval systems are often designed with trade shows in mind, allowing you to scan badges, add notes, and keep all the details organized. People visiting your booth will appreciate the convenience, and you’ll have valuable contact information and demographics to market more efficiently during and after the event.
3. Take your in-person events online.
Many housewares brands rely on product demonstrations, celebrity appearances, contests, and giveaways to drive traffic during trade shows. These events are part of what makes trade shows so fun and also provide a great way to drive traffic to your website and online platforms. If you’re not already, give people attending your special events a reason to follow up with you online.
For example, you could set up + photograph a meet + greet with a famous chef or housewares influencer at your booth and allow attendees to access a complimentary high-resolution image on your website after the trade show. Or have show-goers enter a giveaway at your booth and prompt them to check your website or Facebook page to see if they won. They’ll love the in-person experience and be excited to follow up and continue engaging online as well.
You can also stream your live events to your site or social channels. Whether it’s an in-booth demo, an after-hours event, or you’ve just stumbled upon your favorite influencers + can get them to chat, going live on your social channels + website is a great way to capture attention and drive traffic online — even people who couldn’t make it to the show. As an added bonus, you’ll have the videos available after the show has ended, which can be used over and over again and continue creating buzz!
4. Try geo-targeting.
Using geographic targeting can also be a great way to connect with people at the trade show and drive them to your website. As people visit your booth or wander around the event center, they likely have their smartphone close at hand. You can send targeted push notifications, pop up ads, social media advertisements, and more to grab attention and drive them to your website. Since show attendees are looking for ways to connect and engage, these types of advertisements are great for promoting exclusive offers, product discounts, and information that compliments what they’re already experiencing at the show or your booth.
Make sure your website is accessible + optimized.
You’ll have a lot on your plate as you prep for a trade show, but your website’s health + accessibility should be on your mind, as well. Search for your brand and product names to make sure you have the search visibility you need before a show. Make sure all of your latest products are up, any new advertising campaigns or promotions you launched for the show are listed, and your shopping cart + forms are all working well! That way, you’ll have a more well-rounded and cohesive experience for customers + you’ll be able to build off the momentum from the show.
5.Promote your brand’s official website and social handles.
This almost goes without saying, but if you don’t already, be sure to include your brand’s website and social media handles on printed materials and branded merchandise you’ll be distributing at the show (when it works within your branding and design). This seems ridiculously basic, but too often we see brands forget to prominently promote their online platforms during trade shows and networking events, leading to missed opportunities and interactions. The visual provides a subtle reminder to connect with your company online and an easy way to do so — without additional searching or sales pressure.
Ready for more?
Of course, these are just a few strategies you can use to drive show attendees to your website. The important thing is that you integrate all your online and offline marketing efforts for an effective, well-rounded experience for attendees. If you’re ready to learn more and up your game, check out even more trade show marketing tips!