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Modern Marketing: 20 Trade Show Tech Tips

January 20, 2012 by   - () 2 Comments

Evanne Schmarder

Editor’s Note: Evanne Schmarder is a columnist for Woodall’s Campground Management. She is the creator of the RV industry’s first Digital Marketing Workshop – www.DigitalMarketingWorkshop.info. She’s also the owner of Roadabode Productions – outdoor hospitality communication consultants specializing in digital marketing strategy, social media program development, seminar facilitation, educational presentations, business writing services and the producer and host of the RV Cooking Show. Contact Evanne at evanne@roadabode.com or (702) 460-9863 or visit her online at her B2B site, www.roadabode.com, or her B2C site, www.RVCookingShow.com.

With the summer camping season just around the corner, educating the public about enjoying the great outdoors in general and inviting them to your park is the name of the game. Each fall and spring there are consumer RV shows going on somewhere in the U.S. almost every weekend.

These RV shows are a way that you can connect with current and prospective customers. A win-win event, they provide opportunities for “wanna-be” as well as experienced campers and RVers to get excited about an outdoor vacation, learn what’s new and discover new places to get away from it all – your campground specifically.

There are a number of trade show best practices – including the look and feel of your booth, educated, expert booth staff, and printed collateral with trackable promotion codes – but technology can assist in your show’s success as well. Consider these 20 trade show technology tips to help you get cutting-edge attention and make the most out of your RV show investment.

Pre-Show Promotion

  • Determine specials, prizes and promotional items to be used at your RV show booth. These might include special coupons or even scratch-off tickets for firewood, ice, soft serve cone, branded items such as a beverage cozy, hat or T-shirt, camp store discounts or items etc.
  • Build an RV show landing page on your website. Write keyword-rich SEO content for the page, create a QR code directed to that page and use it on printed show promotion, provide an offer coupon redeemable only at your booth, promote all your planned “at show” marketing hooks.
  • Launch an e-mail blast with an invitation to visit your booth. Link to your RV show landing page.
  • Blog about the details of your booth and any behind-the-scenes scoop.
  • Spread the word on Facebook. Link to your landing page, blog postings, post photos of the prep, invite comments, discuss specials and/or promotions you’ll have at the booth.
  • Establish an RV show hashtag (#) on Twitter. Look for other complimentary businesses that will be at the show and co-promote using their hashtags and yours.

During the Show

  • Create a Foursquare event location and offer a special to those that check in.
  • Do a daily drawing and announce the winner on your Facebook page. If they’ve “liked” your page, give them an extra goodie.
  • Send out a call to action to your social networks offering something special to the “next 25 people” that visit your booth and say, “I love camping!”
  • Offer a photo opp with a fun, famous or wacky cardboard cutout. Snap your own photos of folks having fun taking their picture for use on your social networks.
  • Show short, looping how-to videos at your booth. How-to’s might include setting up a tent, building a campfire, making s’mores, hiking tips and local trails, swimming and/or sun safety etc.
  • Hide a cache at your booth, add it to the Geocaching.com directory, and promote it across your social networks.
  • Host an RV show photo scavenger hunt. Players receive the scavenger hunt list at your booth, take photos of each item/location found, and upload photos to your Facebook page or Flickr account in exchange for a coupon, goodie etc.
  • Create a QR code that “likes” your Facebook page, “follows” your Twitter profile or subscribes to your e-newsletter and post it around your booth.
  • Hold a MeetUp or TweetUp at your booth at a designated time bringing your online friends together in person.
  • Upload video highlights of the day to your YouTube channel and promote it on your social networks.

Post-Show Follow-Ups

  • Launch an e-mail blast with an overview of the show. Link to all of your social networks that had show news.
  • Thank those that visited your booth and list contest winners on your social networks.
  • Add show news and follow-up to your website.
  • Keep the communication flowing, engage with your fans and followers. Ask how they enjoyed the show, what new, neat things they saw, how they enjoyed your booth, ideas for next year etc.

RV shows are a place to meet your customers, make new friends, explore what’s new in the industry, create industry connections and bring in business. Use every tool in your arsenal and make it fun. After all, that’s what our business is all about, right?

Are you doing anything techy at your RV show booth that I didn’t mention here? I’d love to hear about it – please drop me a line and we’ll trade notes.

Comments

2 Responses to “Modern Marketing: 20 Trade Show Tech Tips”

  1. Bob Zagami on January 21st, 2012 6:10 am

    All excellent suggestions Evanne, but I don’t see many dealers or campgrounds at this level of expertise. While that is good for your business, we can only hope they take your ideas and actually do something with them. Technology is good, but people make the difference. Spending money, time and resources to do all of the above will be wasted if RV dealers and campgrounds continue to send people to consumer RV shows who prefer to hide behind tables, read a book, talk on the telephone or eat a meal while PROSPECTS and CUSTOMERS walk by without stopping and talking. I just walked the floor of the Connecticut RV show last night and only two exhibitors reached out to draw us into their booth and engaged us in a conversation. This industry needs a lot more training on basic trade show management and techniques before you can ever hope to maximize the opportunities you write about here. Great information – hope they use it 🙂

    Bob

  2. Evanne Schmarder on January 23rd, 2012 12:45 pm

    Hi Bob and thanks for the comments. It’s funny, the different takes on dealer/mfg reps at shows. I agree they should be available and ready to help but personally, if a rep is standing about the booth space attempting to “reach out” I look the other way and try to avoid them. If they are milling about the booth I might go inside a rig but as soon as they go beyond an unsolicited “I’m here to help if you have any questions” I’m outta there. Once I’ve determined I’m interested and have questions I’ll seek them out.

    In our business there are a myriad of technology comfort – and even interest – levels and I don’t think that’s necessarily related to leadership demographics (age, gender, location). This is a technology column and while I don’t expect my readers to implement all or even any of these suggestions I believe it’s important to make these digital marketing techniques known.

    That being said, a number of my 20 ideas are easy to implement – even if it’s just a trial run or feeling out a new way to connect with customers and prospects. I truly hope that some that are not current tech marketers will utilize one or two of these ideas – even if it’s as simple as a QR code pointing to their website or a cardboard cutout photo opp. For others, perhaps these opportunities will not be immediately maximized but they will, at minimum, will find a place on the radar screen.

    I agree, more training on basic trade show management and techniques can only be a fantastic thing for the industry and consumers alike. That’s a topic for another column. Great feedback, Bob, appreciated.

    Evanne

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