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Use PR to get the most out of a B2B trade event

By David Beesley

Trade shows or B2B industry events often split opinion.

On one side they are great places to meet potential prospects face-to-face and showcase your business and services in the best light. On the other side they can be an expensive and time-consuming exercise for very little return in the short or medium term.

At the very least they might provide a sales return over six, nine, twelve or even twenty-four months.

But the businesses which tend to get the most out of B2B industry events are the ones which put in the time well in advance to plan their objectives, results measurement and how to ensure their PR strategy is fully integrated into this planning to extend their reach beyond the event and create more impact.

Forward planning allows for proper measurement criteria to be agreed so that you can accurately assess results to determine short, medium and long-term ROI. Forget counting the number of business cards collected. A strategic PR campaign can use B2B industry events as a platform to create an impact across your Earned, Owned and Paid media channels.

 

Agree your measurement in advance

Preparation is everything. Hours, days, even weeks can be poured into making sure the stand design is branded correctly, you’ve got access to the right tech on the stand, that your marketing and sales teams are prepped – making sure the demo works.

Measurement of the ROI can be an afterthought or fall into anecdotal systems such as the aforementioned number of business cards collected, footfall on the stand, or number of software demonstrations given.

Using a strategic PR campaign that includes Earned, Owned and Paid media tactics not only raises awareness of your business ahead of attending the event, you can drive leads to your website and measure the real impact on your business through social engagement, website visits, referral traffic, downloads/registrations, leads generated, qualified opportunities and eventually sales closed.

 

Using Earned media for Industry events

In the months leading up to an event, your PR strategy should include engaging with target media to understand whether they are planning to send a reporter to the event and what kind of topics or stories they are looking for.

From a PR perspective having something to unveil at a B2B event - like a piece of exclusive research - can make you an attractive proposition for a journalist and help you stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Try offering your key media an exclusive look at your report's key findings ahead of time.

Most, if not all of the industry events also have their own dedicated website, so try securing coverage for your blogs or features on the website ahead of attending the event to give journalists an early look at your company.

 

Using Owned media for Industry events

Make sure you have a dedicated web page which is search engine optimised for keywords associated with the event. Through the use of SEO, Google is more likely to find your dedicated web page and include it in searches that your target audience makes in the lead up to the event.

Publishing relevant content on that web page, such as what your reasons for attending are, the solutions you provide, registration for demonstrations at your stand, your stand number etc. and then amplifying that via your owned social media channels gives your audience the opportunity to engage with you months ahead of the event itself. This allows you not only to measure website visits to the page, but also start some initial lead qualification and nurturing of the contacts coming through.

 

Using Paid media for Industry events

Use your paid media – Google Adwords, Pay Per Click (PPC), Facebook advertising, Twitter Advertising etc – to target your specific audience even closer. The inclusion of paid advertising will boost the chances of your business being found in relation to the event, drawing in potential attendees to your website.

B2B industry events often operate separately from PR campaigns, with marketing and sales seeing it as their opportunity to shine. This misses a trick as any noteworthy B2B industry event will attract media attention. Through good planning your PR strategy should be able to use all B2B industry events to your advantage, creating content that can be used in the lead up to and the aftermath of an event.

Remember - content created should educate, inform and advise your target audience about the business challenges they are facing – don’t push your marketing or sales messages at the outset, this can come after the show once you’ve met the contact face to face and/or they’ve engaged with your business for longer.

If you want to know more about how to get the most out of a B2B industry event, then why not download our eBook which provides 11 tips you can easily implement to make sure you get more success at trade shows.

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Are you looking for PR support in order to make your event more successful? If so, get in touch with one of our team.