Tricks of the Trade Show: Guerrilla Content Marketing

Trade show attendees are not oblivious about why they’re there. They know they’re going to be sold to, and can sniff out exhausted pitches and decks from the other side of the convention center. And, since they’ll be looking at you as the tangible representation of your entire company, everything they perceive about you they will associate with your brand. With that in mind, smart sales folks know that delivering the story of their product is not their only job -- and that’s how the idea of guerilla content marketing was born.

Sales and Content Marketing: Friends With Lots of Benefits

Companies that align their sales goals directly with company-wide objectives generate about 208% more revenue than those that don’t. But even so, many companies see some noticeable distance between these two teams, both when it comes to independent objectives and how they can help each other succeed. Realistically, neither can be successful if the other isn’t, so that distance is more than just inconvenient -- it’s dangerous.

Nowhere is this more apparent than between field sales and content marketing. Each of these teams is directly focused on customers: getting them interested in a product, demonstrating how it can help them, and keeping them invested in future product iterations. The content that’s used to do this is largely informed by real customer pain points, questions, challenges, and other info -- which is given to, and mostly communicated by, the sales team. And, when pitching, assets created by the content marketing team (like ebooks, demos, and white papers) are the very tools used by salespeople to turn prospects into loyal customers.

Trade Show Presentations = Sharing Assets and Capturing Leads

Speaking of presentations: they are, in fact, an incredibly important piece of marketing content, because pitching at a trade show can be one of two very different things: a taxing obligation, or a rich opportunity to become more adept at connecting with your target audience. What it becomes for you (and other internal stakeholders) depends almost entirely on how you prepare your tools and present your message. 

The most effective way to take advantage of the trade show is through conversational presenting and visual storytelling. Here are a handful of things to keep in mind as you develop your trade show pitch:

  1. Visuals (and flexibility) matter. A lot. Standard, chronological slide decks are static and not ideal for the demanding, loud, interactive environment common to trade shows -- but visual storytelling is. Simple but relevant visuals are proven to be more persuasive and more memorable than dull stock images or text alone. Vibrant visuals can also capture a person’s attention before they even see which company is behind them. So, if you were waiting for a reason to ditch the traditional slide deck, there you have it.
  2. You’re presenting to people; and people want to be heard. What better way to do that then to veer off the beaten path, weave in a little extra content, and have a legitimate conversation? In comes conversational presenting, a strategic presentation approach designed to fully engage the audience with decks that aren’t confined to a specific order. It gives you the freedom to respond to diverse needs and challenges, start a dialogue with your prospects, and readily respond to questions as they come up (rather than when you get to the slide that has them). Plus, you’ll be able introduce additional, related content -- like a case study from a similar customer, or a report demonstrating statistics that matter.
  3. It’s all about the lead (and establishing relationships). Today’s company doesn’t need to print hundreds of colorful, high-quality copies of a case study to (a) effectively use content at a trade show or (b) turn their salespeople into powerful guerilla content marketers. After all, physical assets cost a lot of money. It’s hard to make them memorable without compromising their value; it’s even harder for trade show attendees to keep track of them (and therefore, you). But the most damaging issue? No lead capture. If you’re adamant about using physical assets, do it; but don’t use them exclusively. Always have digital versions on hand, and offer to send them directly to the prospect’s inbox. This way, you satisfy their interest while maintaining an open line of communication.

The wonderful thing about trade shows is that it gives salespeople and content marketers a chance truly work together. Content that’s developed for trade shows is laser-focused on supporting the pitch; when a pitch has a backbone made of killer content, the salesperson has the tools they need to stay flexible, adaptable, and prove the value of the product -- with diversified mediums and from a variety of angles. Even better, the information salespeople gather at trade shows can be used to refine existing content and create new assets (presentations included!) to fill the gaps, which of course helps them, too. 

This is true guerrilla content marketing: giving people who are most often focused on profits a cost-effective way to bring leads into the fold with meaningful content. It’s allowing the people who lead candid conversations with customers and prospects to truly be a part of developing innovative content to secure those targets and reconnect with them. Finally, it’s a never ending cycle -- but rather than being vicious, it’s very, very valuable.

Keep on with your trade show self! Read our next post in the series: Closing the Deal

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