Kyle Gaw

You’ve just landed in the city where the big trade show you’re attending this year is being held, ready to start schmoozing.

In typical fashion, you’ve already plotted what shows you’re going to attend and which of those are most likely to procure leads that will convert. You’ve RSVP’d to all after hours networking events to get in that much needed extra face time with prospects and are prepared with a fresh stack of business cards. After days of constantly being on your A-game, you head home only to find that your competition blew you out of the water.  

“Why did my strategy go down the tubes?” you might ask.

Let me tell you – while you were busy RSVPing and plotting which events to attend, your competition was doing the same. But they were also working diligently to leverage this trade show online for months. They were creating infographics, writing blog posts and producing video assets that they were targeting to event attendees with social advertisements. Don’t beat yourself up; what’s done is done. That’s why we’ve built a skeleton structure of how you can sync your content marketing efforts to get maximum ROI from your next big event.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

First, I want to be clear – traditional trade show preparations are still very much worth doing. Setting clear goals, researching the event, creating an eye-catching booth and preparing giveaways will be all the more helpful when syncing up your existing event strategy with your content marketing efforts.

It goes without saying that you need to engage with other attendees at the event itself. Plan to visit other booths and exchange contact information – it’s not just about bringing people to your booth. Dress to impress and be prepared with the latest and greatest news from your industry to use as talking points with your peers and prospects.

ROI tracking: The silver lining of trade show content marketing  

Almost 50 percent of trade show exhibitors don’t measure ROI by any means, according to a study by Display Wizard. That’s somewhat alarming considering the time and expenses that go into attending such events. Without hard numbers to track, how can marketers expect to improve their efforts?

Luckily, there are some website metrics that you can track before and after your trade show to get an idea of how successful you were. Start with getting a baseline report of where your site currently stands before you launch your trade show campaign. This data will be vital to judge the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts when all is said and done.

Use metrics from both Google Analytics and social media networks to create your baseline report. Pull data such as average session duration, total number of sessions, pages per session and percent of new sessions from Google Analytics for the quarter prior to when you launch your trade show content marketing campaign. Additionally, you should get a read on the current state of your social media channels. Capture your current follower count, average impressions, comments, likes and shares from each network that you’re active on.

This information is going to come in handy when you’re looking to see the impact that your trade show had on your digital marketing strategy. To help get you started ahead of your next trade show, below I’ve provided a list of the assets that you’ll want to create along with a recommended timeline of when you should execute each component. If all goes to plan, you should have a well-crafted content marketing campaign to align with your next trade show or major event.

How to leverage different content types for your next event

VideoA video asset has an incredible ability to quickly and effectively demonstrate the power of your product or service to new consumers. Need convincing? Some 57 percent of retail brands said they notice average order values increase when users watch just one video they’ve produced. Trade shows don’t afford you time to dig deep into your product benefits with each booth visitor – a quality video can get your value props to event attendees quickly and set you apart from the brand in the booth next to you. Plus, you can share it online ahead of the event to get people interested and reach those who won’t be in attendance.

White paper: You might be wondering, who is going to be reading a white paper at my booth – this asset seems like overkill, Kyle. To that I respond, you’re correct – few people will stand at your booth and read a white paper during a trade show.

But that’s not how I’m saying you should use this asset. You can demonstrate your industry expertise with a well-developed white paper that takes a deep dive into a relevant topic for trade show attendees. An asset such as this should be leveraged in the months leading up to the trade show you’re attending rather than at the event itself. Putting this asset behind a download wall on a conversion landing page will allow you to easily promote it on different channels.

Infographics: Consider this your two-for-one trade show content marketing special – infographics outline complex ideas in a visual manner that makes them easier to digest. If leveraged correctly, this asset combined with the video you’re going to produce is going to get your website visitors on board with your product value props well before the big day. An infographic clearly outlining your proprietary software or your business’s approach to problem solving will resonate with trade show attendees, especially when you have it professionally printed and displayed proudly at your booth.

Social media: Here is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time in the months leading up to your event. Every trade show nowadays has a custom hashtag that you can use to engage with event attendees before and during the event – and, yes, you really should be participating in those conversations.

Where you’re going to differentiate yourself is by running social media ads. B2B marketers especially will be happy to hear that LinkedIn provides the perfect platform for targeting event attendees. Sponsoring posts aimed at specific interest groups on LinkedIn will allow you to set your company apart and place you in the forefront of consumers’ minds. The theory of effective frequency supports the idea that repeat exposure to a brand results in conversions. You’ll be tapping into this theory yourself by exposing event attendees to your company in the months preceding the trade show.

Blogs: Finally, it goes without saying that you should be maintaining an active presence on your company’s blog. In addition to touching on relevant topics through the content types that I’ve previously outlined, use your company blog to interview experts within your business, provide thoughtful commentary on relevant topics and create helpful educational material in the months leading up to the trade show. All of this information should pull from the themes of the trade show itself and provide value to leads – don’t just produce content to produce content!

Basic timeline of a strong trade show content marketing strategy:

  • 5 months out

– Register for the event.

– Book any needed travel.

– Finalize your content strategy.

– Outline your white paper.

– Develop a video script and storyboard.


  • 4 months out

– Order branded swag.

– Create the white paper draft, landing page and CTAs.

– Film and edit the video.

– Plan and research blog topics.

– Outline the infographic.


  • 3 months out

– Format and publish the white paper behind a download wall.

– Publish and promote your video.

– Write and send an email blast promoting the white paper.

– Design the infographic.

– Start tracking trends on social.


  • 2 months out

– Start social ad campaigns and conversations.

– Begin writing relevant blogs.

– Publish 1-2 of the event-related blogs.

– Publish and promote your infographic.


  • 1 month out

– Integrate 2 blogs per week into your normal posting strategy.

– Increase your social engagement using event hashtags.

– Have the infographic printed.

– Prep all booth materials.


  • Day before the event

– Post final related blog.

– Remind attendees of your booth number.

– Stay active on social media.

– Get a good night’s sleep!