Trade fairs and (generally speaking) industry events are among the marketing and communication tools most commonly used by entrepreneurs and firms of all sizes for promoting their business and reaching B2C and B2B audiences.
Why? For lots of reasons. Below we list three of them.
- To meet people in the flesh, demonstrate products live and add vital contacts to the marketing database. This is key for products that are complex or made from special materials for which just a display (paper or digital) is not enough.
- To enhance your local SEO strategy: when it comes to local events, perhaps close to the company headquarters, you can use participation in a trade fair to improve your company’s ranking in search engine results for a given geographical area.
- To make the most of the event’s reach: it’s not only important to do things but to tell people you’ve done them too. A physical event is a perfect example, because – if you communicate properly about it – it can spread far beyond the boundaries of the event itself. Particularly when we’re talking about national or international shows.
This third point opens up promising communication and marketing opportunities, if you know how to correctly blend the physical and digital dimensions.
When physical meets digital
It’s called phygital, and involves blending the physical world with digital tools to create something that adds up to more than the sum of their parts.
The term is very much a buzzword today, not least because – as you can imagine – there is no shortage of ways for the word to spread far and wide. First, however, we need a change in mindset.
The question isn’t whether or not to open an online store, but rather how to fully understand and embrace the virtual world through the interconnected objects and environments that bring it to life on the web.
Once we’ve undergone this revolution in the way we think, we can move on to the most effective tools and solutions for creating an outstanding phygital presence at your next trade fair, with a particular focus on:
- Social media analysis
- Live video
- Judicious use of QR codes
Social media analysis
Social networks are not just tools and platforms. Social networks are us! Indeed, any public gathering generates a social network of people who are brought together by a theme and speak to one another, regardless of the channel.
At a trade fair or industry event, this ability to start conversations around an issue, product or innovation is generally boosted by the event’s official hashtag, in other words, the keyword preceded by the # symbol used by people online to tag content generated during the event (tweets, Facebook posts, photos etc.).
Bluenod is an affordable and useful solution for visualising Twitter participants in conversations around a specific hashtag. Say what you want about Twitter, but one thing is undeniable: it’s the primary social network used during events. Simply type a keyword into Bluenod’s search engine and the platform will map the network of users who are interacting in a given period around that hashtag.
Why use it?
To map out those who are genuinely interested in a topic (enough to talk about it online) and who share the common interest that is also the trade fair’s theme. Once mapped, users can then be approached through targeted Twitter Marketing campaigns, which will turn them into a true target audience.
One of the most annoying things about events is not being able to attend them. What’s more, companies often have access to backstage and private areas closed to other participants. So in pure “brand journalist”, style, this can be turned into a great opportunity for storytelling and talking about your firm.
There are all sorts of tools available and technology is becoming increasingly accessible to all. Now all you need is a good smartphone and the features (for example, Stories) offered by Instagram and Facebook to get good results first time.
Of course, as with any self-respecting video, you need to pay attention to the setting, arranging totems, displays and products as you would if you were shooting a short film. Nothing should be left to chance to prevent boomerang effects that can occur when these stories are instantly shared and go viral. Remember that buzz is not always positive: speaking of which, here’s some advice for getting customers talking about you on social media.
Why use it?
To involve and engage people in brand storytelling by providing a unique (and exclusive) perspective on the trade fair.
After a few quiet years, QR codes are back!
By placing QR codes on flyers, in product catalogues or specific areas of a trade show, you can offer the chance to pick up a “prize” – such as a freebie or branded item – from your stand. And if, to claim it, you ask people to fill out an online form with their contact details (name, surname, company, email address etc.), you can fully leverage the potential of QR codes.
What do you need? Just a simple QR code generator.
Why use it?
To grow your database of contacts by engaging users with a gift of little (monetary) value for you, but of great (emotional) value for them. All of which will increase footfall at your stand!
As you have seen, creating a phygital presence is easier said than done. I only listed three solutions, but there are many more.
Which forthcoming events will your company be attending? What marketing and communication ideas are you planning to implement?