Trade Shows are usually pretty straightforward affairs – a decent booth, some nice people to work that booth, maybe a guy doing magic or tap dancing, some games, etc. We’ve seen it all. Some booths even have those fancy scanners that capture information for a follow up.

But, in these times of the user generated experience, why are we still pitching to people as they walk by? What’s in it for them? They have plenty of reasons not to stop at your booth. Why not give them some new and exciting reasons to stop and interact?

Think about the typical person visiting your booth. Maybe they just grab some stuff and keep moving, maybe they drop their card in your fish bowl or maybe you scan their badge.

Sometimes, you might get lucky and engage with that truly interested person and make a connection. But as soon as that happens what about the other people walking by? Are you missing an opportunity because you’re engaged in conversation?

What could you do to set yourself apart? to transform your booth into something different? Well, what about taking advantage of the fact that these people are carrying cell phones?

You may have heard about QR (Quick Response) Codes and SMS Marketing. You may remember such Wood Street Journal posts as Text Messaging & Mobile Sites, a Powerful Combo and QR Codes Are Becoming Mainstream. What about using these in your trade show marketing efforts?

Here are 3 basic ways to use this technology to boost the power, influence and reach of your trade show booth…

1 – Create a Targeted Mobile Site for the Event

A targeted mobile site is a site designed specifically for mobile browsers. The content on this site is specific to the event.

These are relatively simple to create and most web design and development professionals can help you with this. Basically, you want to create a mini mobile site that is specific to the event.

When someone at the event gets to this page, what do you want them to do? I would suggest that you keep it as simple as a brief message with a simple form for them to fill out.

But don’t just ask them for their info. Give them something for it. Think about the event and how you fit in. For example, we are going to be at ASTC 2011 , a trade show for science centers. Our goal is to promote our conference apps, which are perfect for these science centers.

When the potential client fills out our form we will provide them with some information on how to use apps and the web to enhance the visitors experience at their science center. This will come in the form of an eBook, Blog post or white paper.

The point is that we are offering them some really useful tips in exchange for their contact information. When we get back from the trade show (or even while we’re there) we can follow up with these people using the white paper as the “ice breaker”.

2 – Set up a QR Code and SMS Number

QR Codes are the funny looking squares that you can scan with your smart phone. For more on this, check out our post – QR Codes Are Becoming Mainstream.

qrcode

SMS is a fancy acronym for text messaging, a very powerful mobile marketing tool. Some would argue that it’s more effective and more widely accessible than a QR code. For more on this check out our post – Text Messaging & Mobile Sites, a Powerful Combo.

I would argue that you should use both. This is the best way to cover all of the bases. If someone scans the QR Code or sends a text message to the number you provide, they would be directed somewhere.

With a QR Code their phone will bring up the link to your mobile landing page. When they get to your landing page they will find an offer and a form. They can be walking away from your booth but you are still engaged with them.

If they choose to go the SMS route, they text the number you’ve provided and your system returns a message with the link. The great thing about SMS is that you can craft that return message to be something like this…

Thanks for contacting us, click this link to get our exclusive white paper, “Mobile Marketing Tips for Science Centers” – www.woodst.com/astc2011 (link not currently active)

See how powerful that is? They feel in control but you are really driving them towards conversion.

3 – Integrate QR Codes and SMS in ALL Show Materials

Seems obvious, right? You might be surprised how many opportunities you might miss. Think about all of the promotional and support materials you create for a trade show – before, during and after. Why not include the QR Code in ALL of them…

  • Ads in the show directory or program
  • Your trade show banner
  • One-sheets and brochures
  • Your name tag
  • Business cards printed specifically for the event
  • Pens and other tchotchkes
  • And the list goes on…

People at your booth must be aware of these things and promote them. Make sure your staff tells passing prospects to scan the QR Code or send a text and explains what they’ll get in return.

If you do any sort of follow up, include the QR Code and SMS. If you plan to send an email blast, add them to the email content. When you follow up with the people who dropped their cards in your fish bowl, send them the codes.

Mobile and web technology today is amazing and is getting better every day. You are able to engage and convert potential clients on their time creating a positive client relationship right from the start. And the data you collect is incredibly useful.

What do you think? Do you have any doubts? Can you think of other ways to use this technology at your next trade show? Let me know in the comments below.

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Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.

5 Responses to “3 Tips on Mobile, QR Codes and Trade Show Marketing
  • Great post! I especially agree using QR and SMS together is the best way to get the “hip” appeal of QR codes, without losing those who don’t understand how to scan them (which is still the overwhelming majority of mobile users).

    Keep in mind a QR code can send a text message so you’re at least capturing their mobile number right away. This is useful if you want to send them a text message later in the day or after the show such as “Thanks for coming, don’t forget to check out…”

    Also, by using SMS email capture becomes very efficient. A simple response like “Please reply with your email address to receive…” makes it easy for your audience to give you another piece of information.

    Either way, driving them to a properly formatted mobile website in the end always makes sense. Why not give them an opportunity to learn more on-the-spot? Once you have them on your mobile site there are a number of ways you can “drive them towards conversion”!

    • Lots of great info Justin, thanks for adding this.

  • Fantastic post Jon. I forwarding this to everyone involved in our trade show planning.

    • Glad it was useful Jason, let me know if they have any questions.

    • Salona

    This is a great post! Really useful ideas for using QR codes. You can create customized QR codes which include your brand logo, colours and different effects using QR Artist. Check it out at http://www.qrartist.net

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