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How Defense Contractors Can Link Marketing With Trade Show Success

Would you like to link your defense firm's marketing with trade show success? Keep in mind two things: 1) your marketing goals, and 2) your call to action.

defense contractor trade show marketing

In an earlier post, I wrote about the #1 thing that people want from trade shows: new learning. Not tchotchkes.

This is great news for those defense contractors who are beginning to embrace content marketing. Wikipedia defines content marketing this way:

Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.

By publishing helpful, useful content online, companies can increase awareness and trust, generate leads and build a relationship with their prospective customers and influencers.

So can trade shows fit in with that new approach to marketing? They sure can.

For many defense contractors, trade shows have played an important role in their business development efforts. The problem is that many of them are not making the most of their trade show investments by linking them to their marketing efforts.

A traditional trade show marketing mentality persists with some companies that exhibiting is the main event. And that most of the work happens once the trade show starts. But the reality is that most of the trade show work should take place leading up to the show in the planning stage.

Planning for a trade show doesn’t start a month in advance. It doesn’t start two months in advance. In fact, it can take anywhere from six months to a year of planning to do it right.

Trade show marketing is a very strategic process. You have to come up with your strategy and messaging, and make sure everything relates back to your business goals.

This includes all your online and offline promotions, any handouts and even the giveaways you distribute. It is no simple task and not every trade show is the same, but if you take it one step at a time you can have a successful trade show that achieves high return on investment (ROI).

Most important, once you figure out how the trade show can meet your business goals, figure out if the cost is worth it. Will you make up for the money you spend on trade shows on new customers and increased revenue? Figure out the ROI of sending your staff to the trade show. Could they be doing something else that is cheaper and more effective to generate leads?

Your marketing efforts should help your business achieve specific goals and metrics. Trade shows are no different. Trade shows present an opportunity to get quality leads, spread brand awareness and meet other objectives.

The goals of a trade show can include:

  • An increase in new leads and sales
  • An increase in organic and direct website traffic
  • An increase in social media following
  • An increase in email and/or blog subscribers

As you set your goals, make sure you have access to metrics that will enable you to track progress. Ensure that your marketing system can measure these channels and provide evidence to management about the performance of your event.

Once you set your goal and decide what metrics you will use to track progress, you will need to figure out how to get there. What will be the means of achieving your goals?

While you are creating your strategy, make sure you are thinking about what your call-to-action (CTA) will be. Some kind of action you want your buyer persona to take so that you can start or strengthen a relationship with them.

A good example would be some type of content like a research report or perhaps a book that would be valuable, helpful or interesting. A bad CTA example would be a chance to win a car if you provide cyber security services.

Your CTA should be integrated into every aspect of your strategy because, ultimately, it will be the key to reaching your goal. Consider the CTA’s role in everything, including your signs, landing page, booth, goals and metrics.

trade show marketing strategy

In trade shows, as with marketing, the call-to-action remains the key element connecting your goals with the means of achieving them.

photo credit: familymwr via photopin cc

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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