Case Study: How We Used Inbound Marketing Techniques at a Trade Show

Posted by SAI on January 20, 2013

Successfully Using Hubspot at Expo or Trade ShowSince SAI Digital began four years ago, we’ve attended our local business expo. Every year, businesses from around northwest Georgia gather in one room to hand out flyers and freebies to potential customers and hope that some of these phone numbers turn into sales. And we love attending!

Yes, you heard right. We, SAI Digital, a digital marketing agency made of people who will shout the praises of all things inbound, web-centric, and internet friendly till the end of our days, still embrace our local trade show, an outbound marketing event. It seems strange. This year, we were determined to find out.

There are a lot of roadblocks that come from being a digitally focused business at a trade show. We don’t deal in tangible products; we create web projects and offer marketing services that are varied and complicated. Our goal instead was to create an interactive and memorable experience that related to our services and allowed us to easily create leads.

How can you use a trade show to showcase inbound marketing expertise?

Here’s what we did:

The Concept

Plinko and other interactive games are a great way to engage visitors at a Expo or Trade ShowThe Expo had a carnival theme, so we decided on a game of Inbound Marketing Plinko. The Plinko board itself was made and programmed by Steve Tebo, a member of the SAI Digital extended family. We asked the question: how do customers find you? The slots at the bottom represented some of the inbound services we offer: mobile, search, social, and email. Landing in the middle slot, SAI Digital, earned you a chance in our drawing for a Nexus 7 tablet. As people played the game, we had a chance to talk with them about our services.

As a B2B agency, our primary interest was in the Expo’s first day, which had a business-only audience. Everyone got one chance to play, but we encouraged them to sign up for additional chances. Using Hubspot 3 tools, we created a mobile-friendly web form, which we used on a tablet to capture names and email addresses. Hubspot’s Smart Lists allowed us to create a custom field for Plinko winners, so we were able to keep track of who was entered in the contest.

The Giveaways

Think of a way to help communicate who you are, while still providing something practicalEverybody loves a giveaway, and at trade shows it’s crucial to have something besides brochures to offer your visitors. For everyone who visited our booth, we gave away branded funnels. To connect to the theme, we attached a recipe for country fair funnel cakes and a link to download a free Internet Marketing ebook. We found that people really liked the funnels because they were both useful and different from any other giveaway.

But even the very best ebook isn’t enough incentive for people to give us their personal information. Tablets are exciting and buzzworthy gadgets, so we gave away a Google Nexus 7 on the first day and a Kindle Fire on the final day. Even the giveaway relates back to one of our services — web app development.

The Follow Up

Save yourself time and automate emails before the event even startsBefore the Expo even started, we developed a lead nurturing strategy, which is a crucial step. Once again using Hubspot’s tools, we created an automated next-day email that thanked folks for visiting our booth and offered them a free download of our Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing ebook. In a week, those who downloaded the ebook will receive another email inviting them to schedule a SAI Digital discovery meeting.

The Results

  • Leads: 143
  • Downloads: 10 as of this morning.
  • Conversion rate: 6.9%
  • Our booth won Best in Show!

The Take-Aways

  • Your presentation and giveaways should relate to both the trade show theme and your products and services.
  • Have a great giveaway that creates and incentive for prospects to become leads.
  • It’s more impressive to have visitors enter their information on a tablet. Plus, it’s less data entry for you.
  • Before you begin talking to people, have a plan for nurturing leads and creating customers.
  • Make sure visitors leave with info on how to find you on the web and on social networks.
  • Be creative and fun! Have something that draws visitors to your booth.
  • Don’t be shy, and don’t sit behind the table waiting for people to approach you. Talk to people, ask questions, start conversations.

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4 responses to this article

  1. Pingback: Plinko!! | 7hills Makerspace

  2. James said on November 16, 2012

    Incenting not incentivizing* English

    • Lillian said on November 16, 2012

      Thanks for reading, James! Good ole Merriam seems to prefer “incentivize,” but I’ve totally rephrased the sentence to be more clear. It’s likely that both words fall into the completely-made-up-by-business-people category. :)

  3. Ken Doughty said on November 19, 2012

    Lazy marketeers think web is the answer – it isn’t. You have to get off your bum and go to the market. Guess what? you’ll find the people who hold the cheque book don’t surf the web. Old school marketing is still the most effective, like trade shows.

    There’s a very good saying: “If you don’t meet face to face, you can’t see eye to eye”.