An Inbound Marketing Approach To Tradeshows & Conferences

By Hannah Eisenberg - January 22, 2015

Inbound marketing approach to tradeshows and conferencesWait a second, you are going to say. Tradeshows and Inbound Marketing? How can you put them together in one sentence?

Trade shows and conferences are some of the oldest outbound marketing methods around and modern marketers always tout the ineffectiveness of attending them, since the return on investment cannot be measured directly.

However, here at 3P Creative Group, we have set the goal to revolutionize how sustainable businesses market themselves and we have a special soft spot in our hearts for farms.

This Sunday, we will be attending the NOFA Winter Conference. NOFA is a great organization that helps beginner farmers find the support and education they need to successfully grow their hobby farm into a viable business.

Nofa Winter Confernce 2015We attend the conference to meet with farmers and other business owners, have our finger on the pulse of things, and, of course, to get some exposure.

There are two ways to approach an outbound event like a trade show or conference.

The old school approach is to go to Staples or VistaPrint and print hundred of brochures and business cards, some banners and posters and postcards for everyone to fill out for a chance to win your giveaway prize. You will probably give away a lot of brochures and business cards that people throw into the next garbage can - while you make tons of follow up phone calls the following Wednesday.

Or you go the inbound route and you will have less leads, but they are better quality. Let's look at the inbound approach:

Why You Should Use Inbound Marketing Campaigns - Even At Outbound Events

Most likely, you are attending a conference to gain exposure and make new contacts in your targeted niche or industry. We call this ideal customer your buyer persona.

The more you know about your buyer persona before planning an inbound marketing campaign around this event the better. Ask yourself, what is this buyer persona looking for by attending the conference? What problems are they struggling with?

Is there any helpful content you could offer to them? I am sure, the answer is yes. So, why not capture them that way?

In order to integrate those leads into your inbound marketing lead nurturing, you want to capture all the people that you talk to in your marketing automation software as soon as possible.

Planning an Inbound Marketing Campaign

Plan your marketing campaign around two to three problems and address them with premium content or offers - consider different lifecycle stages of your buyer persona, e.g., a top of the funnel eBook, middle of the funnel offer like a case study and bottom of the funnel offer like a personal consultation.

For the conference, we have created the following offers:

We build out landing pages, the correlating thank-you pages, call to actions and follow up emails.

Pro Tip:

Disable Cookie Tracking Hubspot formIf you are going to use a laptop or iPad to sign up people right then and there and you are using HubSpot, you might want to create a new form for the landing pages that you will use at the conference. Then navigate to options in your form editing screen and disable cookie tracking.

Sign yourself out of Chrome and delete all cookies on the browser and pull up your landing page.

Now you are all set to sign people up without falsely identifying your iPad as theirs or worse overriding the past lead's information!

Start A Conversation

I have to say, this was the hardest part about preparing for the conference. I am just not a great outbound marketer - once I feel I have to "sell" myself, my head draws a complete blank.

Initially, I wanted to use an attention grabbing banner (back then we still called ourselves Organic SEO Press:

Dear Farmer Your Website Sucks

Honestly, to say it fancy: digital farm marketing is in its infancy and most farm websites are really outdated and, well everything else than optimal.

But I was not convinced this was the right strategy - so after long consideration, I decided to stay with a simple banner since the conference is very small and I want to see where the conversations go first without preemptively giving a topic.

So I decided to go with this:

Conference Banner: Inbound Marketing for business who care

Capture Leads

Hopefully, during the conference you will have many interesting conversations. But many prospects are not ready to really hear a pitch. They want to collect high-level information, compare vendors etc.

Instead of selling them hard right away, how much better is it to say: "Mrs. Prospect, it is great that you are interested in getting solar panels for your house. We are actually running a webinar next week on how to get the maximum tax benefits for your investment. Would that be helpful to you?"

For us, I want to deliberately keep it simple, clean and without swag to facilitate conversations.

We will have just 2 posters.

The first one that is more an interactive conversation starter. I myself hate going up to conference tables, so I wanted to offer something fun and interactive poster that gets the conference attendees thinking about their own website:

Conference Poster: How is your Website stacking up

We will put sticker dots in front of the poster and encourage attendees to rate themselves.

The second poster is a call to action for our email course:

Conference Poster Inbound Marketing Email Course

This will enable us to capture interested farmers and marketers at the conference and teach them the basics of Inbound Marketing.

Follow Up With Leads

Now that the conference is over and you have entered all the business cards into your marketing automation tool (hopefully with good notes) and you captured some interested prospects, you will be able to nurture them.

Based on your notes and their interests, you should create different lists. Email them soon after the conference with the follow-up content that you talked about. If you just had a general conversation, pull together a few blog posts, videos and resources that your lead is going to find helpful. Depending on the conversation, you might want to enroll them into a lead nurturing workflow.

What's Next?

We are very excited to attend this conference this weekend and if you are too, please make sure to come by and say hi!

After the conference, we will definitely let you know how it all went! So stay tuned.

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