Trade shows are powerful marketing tools for B2B businesses. But when you’ve been focusing your efforts on digital marketing, it can be disorienting to shift suddenly back into face to face marketing.

Fortunately, the best trade show marketing merges the world of digital marketing and face to face marketing. Customers expect an integrated experience in which they can engage with your company online just as easily as walking into your booth. And the brand that can balance both sides of this marketing coin will reap the biggest benefits. For a real-life anecdote that demonstrates this, read this blog to hear what we overheard one of our client's prospects say at a trade show.

With this in mind, here are nine trade show marketing tips you can use to blend your digital marketing efforts with your in-person trade show opportunities.

  • Create an attendee cheat sheet in advance. Create a list of social media profiles of peers and customers you know will be in attendance. During the show, send Tweets and Facebook updates that tag them in the conversation. For an added marketing punch, publish this list on your blog and let other attendees know about it. Then you’re responsible for inviting a wide community of users to participate with your brand online.
  • Don’t forget the folks at home. It’s often the case that a number of interested parties can’t make it to an event for any given reason. Don’t leave them out. Find a way to include them by live-tweeting throughout the day, filming parts of trade show events, and posting recaps of the day on your company blog. If you’re running promotions or raffles in person, offer an online option to include those who aren’t at the event. If you're conducting a product demo at your booth, be sure to make a feed available on your website (and make sure people register to watch online to generate a lead).
  • Get involved in the event hashtag (or start your own). Get the most out of your engagement efforts by focusing your time on established community hashtags. If you post all of your updates as “HealthcareEvent2015,” but everyone else is using “2015HealthcareEvent,” you’ll miss out on those opportunities to have your voice heard. Often times, expo organizers will list event hashtags on their websites prior to the event.
  • Bring share-worthy swag. Spend your swag budget on items that will encourage the recipient to share the experience with their personal networks. That might be something so cool it deserves a photo or video, or something so silly that it helps the attendee get into the spirit of the event and snap tons of photos with your branding on them.
  • Poll your customers digitally. Rather than collect feedback via paper slips that turn into a raffle for free trials or discounts, create a short link to a professional form (or Google form) to poll your booth visitors on their thoughts. Don’t stick with just reactions to your product or display. Ask wide-reaching industry questions that will provide you with information that can help your future marketing efforts and appeal to your customer’s desire to share their opinion.
  • Use geofencing technology to push to website landing pages. Geofencing technology has a lot of potential for B2B trade shows. Start slow by setting up a location near your booth that pushes customers to a mobile-friendly landing page or brochure for your company, as well as information on how to locate your booth. Connecting the attendee’s physical experience with mobile alerts can drive foot traffic your way.
  • Snap testimonial “before” shots. Meeting an established customer? Snap a photo to include on your website and build your social proof. Meeting a new customer? Snap a photo as a “before” shot for a future testimonial. Stories that begin with “When Matt met us, he was struggling with….” will be very powerful when you’ve provided your solution and turned the customer into a happy one.
  • Keep a journal. Okay, so this isn’t very digital. But keeping a short trade show journal each night will help you remember key moments and insights from the trade show that can provide you with several months of blog posts. You never know what will end up being important, so jot down whatever comes to mind.
  • Turn cards into connections. Finally, don’t file those business cards away for the next trade show. Review collected cards each night and shoot connection requests to each contact via LinkedIn. The sooner you connect in relation to when you met, the more likely you’ll be to kick the relationship off right away.

Are you gearing up for a trade show? Use these trade show marketing tips to support and integrate your digital marketing efforts with your face to face ones.