Contests are common marketing strategies deployed during trade shows. Exhibitors know that they work to attract attention and get people interested in booths, demonstrations or products. Now, technology has made it easier than ever to set up and manage contests in a very short time. It is also helping firms use contests as a way to generate excitement for trade shows and increase lead generation.
Social media has allowed businesses to run contests with potential audiences at any time, and firms commonly ask audience members to submit comments or photos as a way of expanding their reach. This is the strategy that Be the Pro is using to connect with blue-collar workers around the world. The firm is offering free boots to anyone who sends in a picture of his or her work boots, complete with mud, tears and holes. The strategy has helped the website lead discussions about issues that concern laborers.
Tip: Posting and sharing photos is a simple way to build relationships at trade shows in real time
Other contests are more complex. The Trade Show News Network reported that Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) recently hosted a Vine video contest. The promotion helped build connections with potential vendors by encouraging cooperation. The contest required attendees and exhibitors to put together 6-second videos, which were then published online. By cross-promoting with participants, EMS was able to present itself as a leader in video and social marketing strategies
Tip: Exhibitors can seek cross-promotion strategies to further brand awareness
Construction trade show connects global industry
These are just some examples of how businesses can break from their usual style of exhibit, but contests have also been used to generate success for industry trade shows. Exhibitor Online stated that World of Concrete, an annual event for the construction industry, turned to social media and contests to not only increase attendance, but to inspire the entire construction sector.
When the event's attendance dropped sharply as a result of economic downturn, the organizers knew they needed to do something to keep their exhibitors happy. The show is a valuable source of leads for firms making joint sealants, waterproofing materials and other chemical products. Construction workers who attend often have a significant influence on the purchasing decisions of their firms, making the event a key revenue generator for exhibitors. To boost attendance, World of Concrete held a global contest through social media. Managers, company owners and customers could nominate crews for exceptional work. These teams then competed for online votes, with the winners getting an all-expenses-paid trip to World of Concrete, according to the source.
The contest worked to generate excitement about local construction crews as well as the event itself. Vendors were kept happy because the move increased attendance and helped them capture new leads. Now, as the construction industry begins a slow recovery, businesses around the world recognize the role that World of Concrete plays in building connections within the sector.
Tip: A contest shouldn't be limited to a simple raffle or drawing. Being creative and expanding the scale of an initiative can generate significant excitement before, during and after a trade show.