7 Ways I Use Twitter at Trade Shows

I find that Twitter is great for making personal connections with business partners, customers and prospects at shows. Twitter, not unlike trade shows, is used for brand awareness, introductions and nurturing relationships without hard selling.

Here are 7 best practices for using Twitter to be seen and heard at a busy show:


1. I try to establish my company’s Twitter presence a few days before the show opens. And every day during the show/conference, I’ll post amusing or informative links, announcements, insights and observations.


2. On the first day of the show, I let the show management know we’re active on Twitter by sending a message to the show using a hashtag (i.e. #EMCworld for the EMC World show) to let them know we are an exhibitor, and ask them to retweet our messages to share it with their followers. For example: “#EMCworld we’re a gold sponsor and would like you to retweet our messages to followers.” It works if they are truly checking their messages.


3. I also include the show hashtag(like #HPDiscover for the HP Discover show) on all of my messages during the show. Attendees will read the hashtag for the event as a stream, and your followers will also receive them. For example: “Here at #RedHatSummit keeping up with the latest…”


4. I swap Twitter addresses with anyone I meet at the show. I also try to get my contact’s company Twitter ID so that my company can follow them and when I give them my business card, our Twitter address is printed on it.


5. If we have a booth, I use Twitter to keep attendees informed of happenings. For example: “@yourcompany The next demo will starting in 10 minutes in Booth 45 #EMCworld,” or “@yourcompany Drawing for an iPod shuffle at 1pm in Booth 377 #EMCworld Must be present to win.”


6. If I want to have some fun, I do promotional giveaways for Twitter users. For example: “I’ve got a copy of “Dummies Guide to Cloud Computing” for the next person who finds me. I’m wearing a straw hat!”


7. By the way, I’m not the only one tweeting at a show; usually a good practice is to have 2 tweeters (but no more) to catch all the buzz. I manage our tweets on CoTweet, which enables us all to see what the other has tweeted, what’s scheduled and to also pre-schedule our tweets. By the way, the mobile app to CoTweet is not free, so if you’re going to use it, you have to take a laptop, or login through your mobile phone’s browser.




Weathering the Marketing Storm

Our beloved b-to-b marketing climate changed over the past couple of years. And it started with the economic storm–bad things happened, and then bad things continued to happen.

I saw three significant events occur that created a natural disaster somewhat akin to a Cat. 4 hurricane:

1)The economy brought massive reductions in staff, especially marketing.

2)The wave of social media increased marketing departments’ tasks, leaving us with more to do and more to learn. But, we weren’t asked NOT to do any of the other aspects of marketing, demand gen, PR, etc. So not only did we have to learn something new, we needed to implement and leverage it while it was emerging and evolving (i.e. no good roadmap of best practices, etc.).

3)Partners and vendors trimmed marketing co-op budgets, which restricted marketing’s efforts to absorb and implement the increased workload through outsourcing, which is probably how we would have addressed the problem in #2 in the first place.

Less overall marketing dollars and less headcount + more workload = OMG I better find a better way.

So, after having this thought process, and realizing that I am still getting a lot of stuff done (although I take more work home these days), I thought about the few things that I had done successfully to counteract these bad events:

-In the book, “Zilch,” by Nancy Lublin, the author implores for-profit companies to behave more like not-for-profit companies in that we need to make “everyone do everything.” She refers to CEOs stuffing gift bags for events and office managers proofreading PSA announcements. So I tried to do more of that–you wouldn’t believe what a great proofreader our event coordinator is, and how well our receptionist can phrase a follow up letter to respondents from a customer survey. Besides that, we’ve tapped our in-house experts to write blogs for us, so I now have writers as well.Video? The VP of Sales’ office works great as a set for expert interviews and our in-house graphic designer happens to be a video whiz.

-I used the social media apps to be more effective. That’s not super easy, as there are like, thousands of them. Some I use are TweetDeck, to measure your Twitter online mentions, Google Alert to measure yours and others mentions, and Cotweet, to allow you to control your company master Twitter account but let others in. A new one we just demo’ed is GaggleAmp, which takes your social media program and makes is real easy for you to get your employees to use their followers/fans/friends to post all of the company stuff to, exponentially increasing the amount of your online reach. Worth a look. And instead of producing that resource draining monthly company newsletter for partners, we get them all to join a LinkedIn group and post content there. Cost=FREE.

-I also use online content hosting sites as a way to turn up the volume. I find sites like BlogNotions that act as libraries for blogs and they draw the crowds for us. We posted a blog article written several months ago by one of our in-house technology high frequency trading experts to a financial traders’ site at: The High Frequency Trading Review and in 24 hours he had 500 reads. With our old co-op funding from item #3 above, we might have paid $10k for an event that would draw one tenth of that number and pray that everyone came. Today, without as much funding at our disposal, this tactic cost us a fraction of that, and shows an exponentially better ROI. That’s the beauty of syndication. Use it.

There’s hope for us all, a lot of work to be done and plenty of marketing jobs to be had. That’s good news: you’ll be able to pay your mortgage, tuition, car insurance and still eat three times a day. I will leave you with this comforting statistic published recently that says the demand for marketers is at a four year high. At least you’ll have some shelter from the storm.

Sending a Booth or Tabletop Display into the Field

How many times have I sent a booth or  tabletop display or even something as simple as a collateral rack to an event in the field and found out later that it wasn’t used or something to that effect because they couldn’t figure out how to put it together etc.?? Too many times!

We recently purchased a new tabletop display unit for our shows, complete with a frame, graphics and lights. Since I won’t be traveling to every event where this will be used I decided to take some time today do a test run and augment the manufacturers instructions with my own – complete with pictures!

First I scanned the instructions and saved them – since they invariably will disappear from the box, I will make a habit of sending them electronically to the Account Executive who will have to put it together.

I took out all the pieces and followed the directions, trying to pretend I was someone who had never put one together before, evaluating the clarity of them along the way. When I was finished I took a picture of the completed display – knowing what something is supposed to look like can help with assembly when all else fails.  I printed the picture and taped it to the reverse of the instructions.

As I was taking it all apart again I decided to number the pieces that went together – channel bar #1 attaches to # 1 on the frame – etc., since they all looked the same – but clearly aren’t. In addition I wrote up some “extra” instructions that will make it easier for any novice to put the display together, without tearing their hair out!

It was an investment of my time, but one that will be well worth it when our great looking display unit is easily assembled and displayed without me having to travel to every city it goes to!

Just another day in the life of a marketer – not one of the more glamorous days – but a worthwhile one nonetheless.

Facebook keeps you on your toes

When we set up a Facebook site for our company, as a B2B company we struggled with how and why we needed one. What can an IT reseller possibly offer that has any sort of pizzazz or interest?  We ended up adding two custom sections: one on our demo centers and one for our custom offering.

It’s a work in progress, but I learned that it’s not a site to merely post your press releases and we have started using it more extensively for event postings.

Here’s a great article from the HubSpot people on 7 great Facebook pages. I liked it because 2 of the 7 companies listed are technology based. Cisco had the creativity to do a Super Fan area, where they post photos of Cisco people sent in holding/using their stuff.

You really have to be on your toes these days. Wish us luck thinking of new, better ideas on keeping it current as a B2B marketer. Will keep you posted as we figure it out.