It’s that time of year — trade show season! HIMSS, RSA and many other conferences are just around the corner, which, if you’re Michael Scott, means free pens, magnets or even a sweet Microsoft Office button-up. However, if your focus is more business-oriented, you may be thinking about your content strategy.
If your killer speaking submission earned your company some microphone time, congrats! You’ll have plenty of content opportunities. But whether your're speaking or attending, you’ll need a plan to position the company well at the show via content. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Before the show
Trade shows are frenetic, and the legwork you put in leading up to the event will pay huge dividends once you’re there. Here are some tips to get your conference content strategy moving.
Consider multiple forms of content
Depending on your capabilities, think about multiple content formats, from blogs and images to podcasts and videos. Obviously, blogs are the most direct way to share deep insight from the conference and give your company’s take on what’s happening. Images and videos offer an opportunity to personalize the company by highlighting your people. And if you have a podcast, you can hit all the notes: conversation, insight and personality.
Work with your SEO team
Before you publish a single post, make sure you’re creating content that incorporates the keywords you want to rank for. To that end, take a look at the conference website and see what keyword synergy exists between the show and your organizations, and brainstorm for content that builds around those keywords. Like any piece of content, if something is worth publishing, it’s also worth finding.
Publish pre-show content
Get the content output going by letting readers know you’re going to the show, why you’re going to be there and what you hope to take away from the event. Spend a few hours with your team reviewing the conference’s presentations before the show and identifying the themes and topics your potential clients would be interested in (more on that later). Doing this work reveals great content opportunities (especially on LinkedIn), as it creates the opportunity for early engagement and possible meetings once you’re at the conference.
Assign clear responsibilities
As with any exercise, your team needs a clear understanding of what each person is supposed to do to keep the content train moving forward and on time. Designate who’s responsible for creating, editing and posting the content. To that end, it’s a great idea to have a workflow guide to keep everyone on the same page. This is especially important at trade shows, where things can become hectic — organization is your friend.
During the show
Think strategically about presentation recaps
While at the conference, you’ll want to share content that says more than “We were there.” Consider how you want to position your experience and why it matters to potential customers. It’s good to attend a mix of presentations, from niche topics to keynote presentations (especially if a household name is speaking). Roundtable discussions are typically great fodder for blogs, as they offer a wide array of insights on a single topic.
Don’t recreate the entire presentation. Instead, focus on three to five interesting points shared by the speaker(s), then offer commentary on those ideas that fit within your company’s messaging. Double down on discussion areas that speak to your customers’ challenges and pain points when possible. This is where your content can add tremendous value.
Take note of emerging trends and buzzwords
What’s great about trade shows is that they often serve as town halls for discovering emerging trends. People from far and wide are bunched into a hall, talking about what makes them and their customers tick. If you talk to enough people, you’ll likely find that a challenge you thought was specific to your organization is becoming more commonplace by the day. Ask why other companies are feeling a particular pain and what they’re doing about it.
Other times, you’ll hear repeated terms and phrases you haven’t heard before. Take note of these, and ask questions. Again, think about whether these emerging terms relate to your business and customers. If they do, including these learnings in your content is a great way to position the company as forward-thinking and to stay ahead of trends.
Mine for contradictory takes
People love it when you go against the grain, so if there’s an emerging theme from the show that doesn’t sync up with what you believe, consider building content around it. Obviously, you need to weigh the risks of swimming against the tide and vet ideas appropriately. But if your experience, data and instincts tell you something’s off with a popular opinion, consider talking about it.
After the show
Keep the content going
So much happens at a trade show, and there isn’t always enough time to share all the things you want to during those three to four days. Still, you can use the conference as a springboard for sharing the rest. First, gather thoughts during a conference wrap-up. You can use this exercise to create as a “best-of” version of your previous content while placing it all into a larger context. Here are some ideas:
- Rank your favorite presentations.
- Share some of the most interesting things you learned and why they’re essential to understanding or serving your potential and current customer base.
- Recap amusing anecdotes from the show, even if they’re not specific to your business.
- Share random thoughts that are interesting and pertinent but don’t necessarily fit into content from the show.
- If you gave a talk, turn that subject into a webinar, blog post or byline.
Evaluate and plan for the next conference
Once the trade show dust settles, debrief your content efforts and have an honest discussion about what worked and what didn’t. Take a look at traffic/downloads, how certain pieces of content ranked, social engagement, etc. Did any of the content lead to new topics or ideas? And, most importantly, did your content output generate leads? Use this insight to refine your content plan for the next show.
Need to determine the best path forward for your company’s content strategy? Learn how Look Left can help you make it happen.