Charli Matthews, Digital Marketing expert and editor of EMPOWERING PUMPS shares her thoughts on the importance of supplementing your social media activity and engagement with face-to-face interaction, especially in the world of Engineering.
Create brand zealots with better conversations with your customers
Even as a social media enthusiast, I’m convinced there is no replacement for direct interaction with your customers, prospects and other key influencers. Nothing beats sitting down to have a real conversation with another person.
I love the experience to meeting the shy, introverted project engineer who isn’t great at small talk, but lights up when you begin to talk about his/her technology. It’s an amazing transformation that you can only experience in the flesh.
Attendance at trade shows is an important component of our business strategy at EMPOWERING PUMPS because it creates an opportunity to engage with our customers and prospects directly. We attend about 12 Process Industry events each year and spend as much time as we can interacting directly with as many people as time will allow. We know we can’t talk with everyone and that is where social media plays a vital role in our success.
For EMPOWERING PUMPS, social media is an important component of our marketing strategy in engaging our customers in an ongoing conversation. We look for opportunities to engage with our customers and their customers beyond any trade show. We want to create EMPOWERING PUMP brand zealots.
During our conversations, we are trying to increase brand loyalty and help move our customers from a rational attachment (I like their product) to EMPOWERING PUMPS to an emotional one (I can’t live without this company because I rely on them for more than just a great product). Studies repeatedly show that customers with emotional attachments to your company tend to be more brand loyal.
Here is how social media can compliment your trade show strategy
Trade shows are huge commitment for companies. They invest time and resources in planning the meeting, building an exhibit, sending employees to the meeting, hosting events and, hopefully, promoting their attendance at the meeting. All that investment for just a few days. Pretty amazing.
I’ve been seeing more and more companies incorporate social media into their marketing strategy to extend the reach of their message(s) and participation at key industry events.
Integration is the common thread that aligns all activities, and it starts with developing a strategy that clearly identifies audiences, messages and tactics to reach them before, during and after the meeting. All activities should align with the strategy. Advance planning can help ensure a greater return on the investment.
Some questions I like to ask to develop a social media strategy:
- How are you engaging employees, customers and media?
- Before? During? After?
- How can you extend the show beyond a three-day event?
- How are you extending the reach of the show to those not attending? Employees? Customers? Prospects?
Incorporate social media into your event/exhibition marketing strategy:
- Determine the role of social media in your event marketing strategy
- Identify your social media channels
- Set objectives
- Define your on-line brand personality
- Create content consistent with your brand
- Train your team on creating content
- Have fun!
One very simple and effective tool to implement at your next trade show is the use of hashtags, the “#” before a word(s). The hashtag is a signal for others to join a conversation on social media.
Here’s how it works: You can create a hash tag related to a product, company or issue and register it online. Your hash tag is now recognized by social media channels and is available for others to follow and join your conversation. Most trade shows now register a hash tag to distribute updates about key news and events taking place during the meeting.
Social media is a great buzz word, but I like to caution companies that social media is a channel to have a conversation. It’s a conduit for your content. The secret for success lies in developing a plan to for to have that conversation.
But for companies looking to built brand zealots, like EMPOWERING PUMPS, social media can help engage your customers on a daily basis, even if you can’t have a cup of coffee with each of them every day.