Don’t Just Show Up – Engage! #JustStartToday

You have registered for the trade show or conference. Maybe you have a booth. You’ve done your signage and have your business cards printed. After all, the top companies and brightest minds in their industry will be present to ensure qualified participants. You are ready, right? No, – not right.

The potential new clients will not seek you out just because you showed up and put some signage in your booth. There are many awareness activities that occur around the trade show time; taking advantage of these options will ensure you see a greater return on your trade show investment.

About 80% of the work required to maximize your ROI at trade shows/conferences is actually done before the event even starts

Pairing pre-event activities with your networking efforts at the event should give you the biggest payoff. There are a variety of awareness opportunities that occur in conjunction with the major shows as either a vendor or an attendee:

  • Advertising
  • Issuing press releases (and getting the industry publications to publish them!)
  • Sending emails to your database or show attendees
  • Writing blogs that highlight your expertise
  • Planning a social media campaign
  • Pitching articles to industry publications

If you’re planning to attend ISC High Performance 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany this June 19-23, we have some specific recommendations for this event that could also apply for future HPC industry shows.

With a limited budget, we typically recommend concentrating your advertising spend on pre-show and at-show activities. Numerous HPC industry publications such as HPCwire, InsideHPC, HPC Today, and Scientific Computing World offer advertising packages that can be a mix and match of mediums at a wide range of price points. These packages range from the full-blown, we-want-to-go-big sponsorship packages that cost about $6,000-10,000 to eNewsletter and websites banner advertising starting at a more affordable rate of $1,300. Other options worthy of consideration are the “Tech Guide” offered to attendees at ISC entrances including the press booth.

These advertising options are all time sensitive, particularly for ISC. Be forewarned: advertising opportunities will sell out and many options have already sold out!

Public Relations
We recommend sending press releases six weeks out (ideally, but 3-4 weeks’ prior is still viable), and ask for interviews to try and land coverage pre-show. You can hit any or all markets out of HPC, Big Data, and Data Center depending on budget. Knowing everyone in the industry has its advantages (yes, we are advantaged 😉 )

Let’s hit the pause button a moment.

Yes, there are a vast amount of awareness efforts to be considered for ISC, and the know-how to get the most bang for your advertising spend or getting noticed by the media is just as important. Add in emails, blogs, or social media, and it can become a little overwhelming.

Two recommendations to help you #JustStartToday:

  • You can hire someone, specifically with the expertise in the HPC industry, to help with your awareness activities at the event. There are firms of all sizes. You don’t need to go with a big firm: many of the smaller firms are more nimble and know more people in the industry. As the press releases start coming out pre-show, smaller firms can adjust the message and the plan very quickly so your communications are differentiated and on-point.
  • Do it yourself. This takes a lot more work on your side. You start by looking at your time and skill set and then make a plan.
    • Are you a pretty good writer? Write a blog. Choose a topic you like and that highlights your product.
    • Make sure your LinkedIn and Twitter are up to date. Engage with influencers on social media and post interesting content. This will start to get you some notice.
    • Contact the publications for advertising options. Be careful here: really look at what they are offering and if your content will hit your target audience.

Some other tips taken from the process we use with our clients:

  • Document your goals for the show. What do you hope to accomplish? You can’t put together a show plan if you don’t know why you are there.
  • What are the key messages you want to communicate at the show? Know them. Make sure your team knows them!
  • Any awareness activities should fit into your overall marketing efforts.
  • Start with templates based on best practices. You may have a template from what you’ve done in the past. It’s easier to start with something and edit than create from scratch.
  • Post-event reporting tying back to your goals: what worked, what didn’t work, and what to do next time.

The difference if you have someone (like Xand McMahon) help you with your plan:

  • We have experience and knows what works best. We start with our templates and then develop a plan that fits you and your budget.
  • We have perfected our trade show methodology so our clients get the most out of the spend.
  • We know just about everyone in the industry. Seriously, between Lara and me, we do. 🙂

The goal: Get the most out of ISC, and then ride the ISC awareness wave into other shows such as Hadoop Summit, Supercomputing, and all of the HPC shows in between. This is where you see the return on your ISC event-based marketing efforts.

The important thing, #JustStartToday. Don’t just show up for the event. We truly believe it’s imperative to take advantage of the many awareness opportunities that occur around the major shows.

Feel free to contact me if you want to brainstorm or bounce your ideas off of me. I’m always happy to discuss ideas!

About the author: Kim McMahon has performed sales and marketing for more years than she cares to count. She writes frequently on marketing, life, the world and how they sometimes all come together.