Heading to a trade show soon? You can make the most of your few short hours in the exhibit hall by creating a concept that engages attendees and the media.
Thanks to Daniel Honigman of G2 Crowd for contributing this guest post. As Daniel says, "With many major trade shows nationwide experiencing their highest attendance since 2008, it’s important for exhibitors and sponsors to develop a unique, relevant narrative to break through the clutter that exists at many shows."
Here's how a GridScape grabbed attendees and media attention at Dreamforce. What's your biggest trade show marketing challenge?
How did the idea for the GridScape get developed?
G2 Crowd is a real-time platform for customer reviews and feedback on business software, so each review affects the category Grid in some way. (For instance, our Grid with the best marketing automation platforms has 21 vendors; our CRM Grid has 27.)
We always kept a Grid with all vendors that have 10 or more reviews on our site, but hidden within our site. We weren’t quite sure what to do with it - or if we could do anything at all.
When Dreamforce approached, we thought that we could leverage this asset to create something that was both relevant and timely - especially important because at our sponsorship level, we would be unable to publish a Dreamforce-related press release.
To test this idea, we went through the list of Dreamforce sponsors and exhibitors (350-plus, and all of their products, including 70-plus with 10 or more reviews - and created a special Dreamforce GridScape for to see where both individual products and product categories would shake out on both G2 Score and overall satisfaction. (We called this a GridScape, as it’s essentially a Grid that cuts across multiple software categories.)
It turned out to not only be an effective narrative for show attendees, as they could quickly see what users thought, but how some of the leaders stacked up against each other. As we’re always looking for more content on the site, it was also a way for us to generate additional reviews at the show at one of our review stations.
How did the GridScape drive booth attendance and contribute to your ROI?
The GridScape not only drove booth attendance and interest from attendees, but vendors as well, who are always looking for any sort of edge they can get in the marketplace. Many attendees were drawn in while they walked by our booth because the GridScape was visually engaging. They saw our screen, as well as logos they recognized, and wanted to see what we were about.
In addition, as the GridScape was timely, we found that this attracted not only media, but media on day one of the show - something that’s almost impossible to do.
What types of analytics can you share?
To date, our GridScape page has been viewed several thousand times, both during and after the show. In addition, it generated some press on day one of the show in VentureBeat, which is very difficult to do.
Through the show, we were able to generate not only record traffic to our site, but a record amount of traffic generated from search engines as well. This means that our GridScape inspired site visitors to think of us after their initial exposure to us either at the show, or after hearing about us elsewhere.
What would you change next time?
There’s always room for improvement, especially as this was our first attempt with a GridScape.
Now that we know this approach works for conferences, we can couple it with additional content generated in real time. While we produced top-10 lists for G2 Score and overall satisfaction, we should be able to segment the data even more for future shows, since we’ll have more reviews.
We could, for instance, list the top vendors in a given category at the show, compare overall satisfaction ratings across product categories and more.
What type of press release did you prepare for this announcement?
Due to the nature of the show, only sponsors at certain levels were able to put out Dreamforce-related press releases. We were able to generate this buzz without any sort of press release or product-related announcement.
What tips do you have for getting into industry blogs like VentureBeat.com?
It’s always good to have a timely and relevant narrative. We have also found that it is important to help generate a story that’s based on unique data and sound methodology. We found this to be especially true with our Grids.
How do you see attendee engagement at trade shows evolving?
With many major trade shows nationwide experiencing their highest attendance since 2008, it’s important for exhibitors and sponsors to develop a unique, relevant narrative to break through the clutter that exists at many shows.
During that same time, many of the real-time digital communications tools - such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - have become even more of a part of the business conversation, especially in the B2B space. Many trade show attendees and non-attendees alike expect more of a digital experience from many companies. Attendees expect more than just a polished booth experience.
The overall digital narrative for many brands will extend beyond the show into more of an evergreen experience. Those that became engaged during a show will receive communications long after the show is over. The show will become just another opportunity - albeit a large one - for effective real time engagement and content creation.
About Daniel Honigman: Daniel Honigman is the Marketing Manager at G2 Crowd, a crowdsourced business software review platform. For more information, go to G2Crowd.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @G2Crowd and @danielhonigman.