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December 30, 2014
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South East Europe: Trade Show Marketing Brings Contacts and Contracts


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by Gorazd Čad

I’ve been creating and encountering content and ‘content marketing’ right throughout my career, the main difference being that in the past we gave it a different name and as a rule it was included in the PR. The current Content Marketing Institute (B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmark) study shows how times have changed and how important it has become in a B2B market: today, 93 percent of marketers use various content marketing tools, with 44 percent having a carefully worked out strategy. The number of companies directly employing a content custodian is also on the rise, with content marketing budgets already in excess of 30 percent of all marketing costs.

With all this content marketing buzz going on, it’s important to question why it has become so very important for trade show organisers too. For one, the competition between global and regional trade shows is certainly becoming more and more fierce, with classical advertising methods becoming almost unfeasible. In addition to all of its direct effects content marketing also indirectly affects search engines and triggers a positive response from readers. With our buyers increasingly taking over campaigns, beyond content marketing there are only few tools that enable communication through various channels: trade show organisers are consequently becoming media houses and publishers with their own media channels, and social media has facilitated and strengthened this role, enabling quick and easy distribution of web content.

So where do you start? Well, good content marketing starts with really understanding buyers (customers), and the most important added value is in storytelling, not in the selling of services. These stories must be personal, heartfelt and written in good old journalistic manner, with a good story easy to place within a variety of communication media, something that doesn’t readily apply to the bombardment of sales messages we get daily from most providers.

Good content can then also help you achieve the goals you have set regarding your participation at the trade show. When it’s genuinely good content we understand everything that the users continue to share – it is contagious and it works in the longer term, all of which raises the key question: whether it also increases sales. We believe it does, as in recent years we have received concrete demands based solely on good content. In order to fully exploit the capital of content marketing you therefore need to find a storyteller, immediately start measuring the effects, nominate a content guardian, connect tools, multiply stories and respect your readers.

For trade show exhibitors it is essential to prepare a press release with strong story elements that open the door to congress buyers’ hearts and minds – these readers reward us with a purchase and with their loyalty. Storytelling is the most efficient communication mechanism for building such a relationship with consumers, because it allows you to attract customers, to connect with them and to start building a long-term relationship with them on an emotional level.

Properly good content, however, has never been free. "The marketer" magazine has published an interesting analogy that content marketing is similar to buying a house rather than renting; no one today seriously considers buying independently, rather he or she honestly considers with whom to do business and seeks the best person for the job. Content managers have therefore today become the masters of multimedia tools and know how best to use a range of specialist ones.

I remain firmly convinced of the effectiveness of content marketing. At the same time, however, it does conceal some pitfalls and dangers. Just as with football, everyone thinks they know a lot about tourism, but in formulating their thoughts they can have big problems. The result of this can be poor content, and poor content means a bad reaction or response - or even worse, no response at all. Content must be fresh, content must be original and, when the time and place is right, content must also be a little bit provocative.

A few recommendations to tie things up: try to follow the basic rule that you do not copy others; constantly mentioning the company and its products is annoying and unnecessary; creating attractive titles is extremely important; avoid publishing transmitted news and content and choose to create your own original news content; use a top photo and do not overcook things with technical or scientific expertise. If you are posting advertorial, mark this out loud and clear – readers will not resent you this! The lure of quasi-content marketing is waiting for you at every step…

Trade shows are an excellent vehicle for launching original and infectious stories. The best ones offer thoughtful and carefully planned distribution, their own communication channels and a very clear target group. If you can use content marketing well, this will also be a key selling advantage for you and an opportunity that you grab with both hands.

Added value on the case of Conventa trade show:

FACT: The entire profiling of Conventa is based on content marketing and we were one of the first trade shows with a person employed in this field. We are therefore proud to say that Conventa is the largest regional ‘content marketing machine’.

RESULT: In five years, Conventa has been visited by 67 leading professional media organisations that have brought 119 journalists to the event. These have taken the voice of the congress potential of the region to the world and have published over 300 stories, whilst generating a significant number of posts on social networks.

IMPACT: Conventa is well attended by professional media and leading journalists. Many of them are so thrilled about the region that they have become media ambassadors and friends of destinations.


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