Trade shows can sometimes seem like a necessary evil for a company. From creating marketing materials to securing speaking opportunities for your executives to planning your schedule at the show, we know the laundry list of to-dos required for a successful presence at any industry conference is longer than you’d care to admit.
Last month, Black Hat (and co-located conferences BSides and DEFCON) took Las Vegas by storm and put the spotlight on both budding and establishing security companies. We met celeb lookalikes (see photographic evidence of our business development manager Lindsay LeCain with KISS impersonators), tasted whiskey at client Arbor Networks’ booth, and even turned off our WiFi capabilities to fend off potential hackers. But most importantly, we ditched our heels for flats and powered through the show floor to talk shop with the industry’s leading security companies.
Lessons From the Show Floor
Here are a few lessons from our team’s experience at Black Hat that will help your company manage its next show presence with ease:
- Do your homework. If your company is attending a show, do your research into recent trends and hot topics in the industry. At a security show, for example, what cyberattacks have dominated recent headlines? What were the implications of those attacks on the industry? Be prepared to talk with the experts and audiences at the show.
- Determine your goals ahead of time. Before you even step foot on the show floor, think about what you’re looking to get out of the conference. If you’re strictly there to learn, take advantage of trainings and speaking sessions at the show. If your goal is to talk to other vendors for their perspective on the industry, take a look at the exhibitor list ahead of time to determine who you want to talk to.
- Network…and do it well. When you’re talking to other industry experts at events and conferences, one question is bound to come up: “What does your company do?” Be prepared to tell your company’s story that explains exactly what you’re doing differently than the other 1,000 vendors in the room. The more you can tie your company story with recent trends, the better you’ll provide context for potential customers. Of all the insightful conversations we had at Black Hat, the ones that stood out kept us engaged with their unique point of view. Make sure people walk away with a little something to remember you – like business cards and other marketing collateral (tip: company swag doesn’t hurt either).
- Create content. If you’re like us, you know the importance of great content and you use every trade show as an opportunity to show off your company’s collateral. At Black Hat, for example, our team created a customized infographic to accompany us at the show which highlighted our experience in the industry. Don’t discount the value of a strong piece of content.
- Maximize social media presence: Is there an event hashtag? Are your executives speaking at a panel that could be live-Tweeted or streamed? The more social activity you participate in, the more your company becomes a key player in industry conversations online. But, don’t negate the value of face-to-face interaction. Use social media to complement a great booth presence that will leave attendees talking – and posting.
- Follow up. Following up post-show is not just about checking in with contacts you traded cards with – it needs to include finding ways to keep your company visible. Focus on developing a unique point of view for your company, train spokespeople and get ready for media outreach. Finding a public relations and communications strategy partner can help make sure your company’s story goes far beyond a tradeshow.
Still feeling stressed about your company’s next industry trade show presence? Don’t worry – we’ve got your back! Connect with us here.