Just about every company is using the current economic crisis as an excuse to re-evaluate its event strategy. More than just a few companies have decided to forgo their booth presence, something that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. Scobleizer puts the blame of the dying tradeshow industry on bloggers and social networks but I think tradeshows have been struggling to show tangible return on ROI for quite some time and social media offers the first successful alternative.
Whatever the reason, social media and web 2.0 are being utilized more than ever to connect with customers. Here are just a few ideas I had when it comes to leveraging these tools to maximize your involvement at a tradeshow:
- Blogging - okay this is an obvious one but make sure you have one or two people covering the show. Summarize keynotes, write about what's hot and what's not - and not only traditional blog posts but microblogging with Twitter is a great way to make people who aren't at the show feel like they know the major happenings and video can really bring things alive!
- SMS - if you have a keynote session you can use SMS as a way to poll the audience or take questions.
- Widgets - Maybe you can create a widget that ties everything together, your blog posts, event schedule, collateral - you can even create a countdown to the show or any other major announcements.
- Virtual Presence - In lieu of a booth promote and send your customers to an online environment where they can not only attend a virtual event but they can ask questions, network and be part of a community you can grow over time. Check out what ON24, Unisfair and InXpo are doing in this space...
- PowerPoint - Post your webcast and keynote presentations on your community (ie. Facebook), on your blog and on SlideShare to extend the reach of the content.
- Mobility - Leverage the fact that everyone has a cell phone these days. Allow people to see the event schedule from their phones and offer to provide reminders to your events. Provide mobile promotions where you can send links to content or videos to those who request them. You an even enable your sales folks to send mobile business cards to people they meet.