Conversation at a trade show booth

One of the most common hurdles companies tell us they face when starting a blog, along with finding enough time, is figuring out what subjects to write about. Determining blog topics shouldn't be hard. Even a single trade show can produce 3 months or more of topics to discuss on your blog.

Read on to learn how you can use your next trade show as an excellent source of pertinent blog topics.

Listen Up!

Trade shows offer you a unique opportunity to interact with an engaged audience of your prospects, industry peers, competition and customers. Rarely will you have all of those resources in the same building. To get the most out of your trade show experience, it's important that you:

  • Think about more than just collecting leads
  • Are fully available to listen and absorb as much discussion and feedback as possible
  • Pay close attention, as each interaction has the potential to yield valuable insights.
  • Simply listen. Most companies have their standard pitch, but also be prepared to listen to what your prospects have to say.

Before arriving at the trade show, make sure you have a small pocket notebook to jot down ideas throughout the show. Many times, the best topics for blogs can occur when you don't expect them. You could be deep in a discussion when suddenly the "That would make a great blog post!" light goes off. Capture those moments immediately following your conversation before you forget them.

Now, here are a few things to listen for when interacting with your prospects, customers, and competition.

Getting Blog Topics from Prospects

Most likely, the primary reason you're attending a trade show is to meet prospects and drum up new business. However, prospect interactions offer a unique opportunity to hear directly from your target demographic.

  • What problem are they trying to solve? - Is the answer on your website? If it's a specialized need not covered in your website's core content, it could make for excellent targeted blog material that speaks to a particular need or niche.
  • What is their industry and profession? Focus blog posts to speak directly to a specific industry or profession within your target demographic. These blog posts can be highly relevant to a specified customer base and increase the chance that a reader will find value in the post and engage with your brand.
  • What industry terms are they mentioning? - Certain industry terminology could lead to new keyword ideas. You may also find that your prospects refer to your products or services differently than you do, even if slightly so. Use those keywords as the basis for keyword-optimized blog posts and rank for new terms.
  • What's hot in the industry that comes up frequently? - Addressing what's current in the industry on your blog will gain the attention of visitors and help drive additional traffic when promoted on social networks. You ARE promoting your blog posts on social networks, right?

Getting Blog Topics from Competition

Your competitors will most likely be in attendance at most trade shows. While you may not want to overtly approach their booth and ask what they're up to, try to observe and listen to what others are saying about your competition.

You could also bring along a staff member and have them visit your competitors' booths for information gathering purposes. I know we've personally visited exhibitions for clients and visited competitor booths. Not only have they handed us brochures that we can use for further keyword research, but we hear their sales pitch and get volumes of ideas from hearing them talk. Because they do like to talk...

  • What competitive options are people discussing? - Contrary to common belief, your blog is a great place to address competitive offerings. We wrote a blog post for a client comparing their technology with pros and cons of other technologies and it's generated tens of thousands of dollars in business for them. You can also steal traffic from competitors and rank for keywords that you wouldn't have before by using competitor keywords to address competing products.
  • What differentiates your company from the competition? - Note what makes you different from competitors and highlight your advantages on the blog, whether that’s a better technology, longer warrantees, better sales process, better customer service, etc. You don't want to come across as boastful, but your blog is an excellent outlet for setting yourself apart from others in your industry.

Getting Blog Topics from Existing Customers

Running into existing customers at trade shows presents a great opportunity to build the relationship by asking about their experience with your company. Those conversations often yield highlights that you can share on the blog or potentially develop into more in depth case studies.

  • What was their experience with your company? - It's always a good practice to listen intently to your customers. Customer feedback often sheds light on positive aspects of your business that you can discuss on your blog. Those discussions may also yield negative feedback that you can address either on the blog or internally to improve your service.
  • Would they be willing to share their experience? - Use customer feedback to create case studies. A case study on your site that showcases a customer's experience with your company can be extremely influential in swaying a prospect's purchasing decision by adding credibility and relevance to your efforts.

Since trade shows are more relaxed than a typical office environment, you may choose to bring along a video camera (your HD cell phone camera will suffice) to record their experiences with your company. This, too, makes good blog and website content.

Getting Blog Topics from Presenters and Speakers

It's a good idea to write a blog post about your experience at the trade show itself. What did you learn from speakers or presenters? What new technology or methods are emerging in your industry? A timely post discussing your experience with show highlights, photos, and key takeaways demonstrates that your company is active and participating in industry discussions.

In addition, if you're speaking at the trade show, record that session and offer it as an on-demand download on your blog. That type of fresh video content makes for terrific lead generation offers. Try to post these blog updates as soon after the show as possible, when the experience is still top of mind for attendees.

And there you have it! Next time you head to a trade show, have some fun and keep these tactics top of mind. You'll be amazed at just how many content opportunities arise when you listen for them.

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