How VARs Can Create Noise At a Trade Show
The noise — and the hype — can get pretty darn loud when you’re at a technology conference. But if you’re a savvy VAR, you can rise above the noise (and build your own publicity wave) at a technology summit or business conference, regardless of the event’s size. So, how can you make sure your voice — and your brand — are heard? Just follow a few of the steps Lenovo recently took during the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas.
More than 140,000 people attended this year’s CES. Hundreds of products were announced. For those in reactive mode, it was seemingly impossible to have your message heard. But here at Lenovo we were in proactive mode — organizing our Twitter feed, blog, and video content to promote our messaging.
Twitter: Our primary Twitter feed (@lenovo) kept more than 7,000 followers on top of the news, driving readers to our Live Blog coverage of the show. The result: Thousands of people heard from Lenovo directly as we announced new tablets and described our Enhanced Experience innovations.
Tip for Solutions Providers: Have at least three really great Tweets ready to go per day during the next conference you sponsor or attend. Place the conference hashtag in all Tweets (in this case, we leveraged the #CES hashtag non-stop). And be sure to re-Tweet your partners’ and customers’ messages. They’ll appreciate the gesture and potentially return the favor. Always link your Tweets back to deeper content — like a blog entry or third-party discussions about your products or services.
Blog: Yes, Lenovo has its own blogging center, which included our live perspectives from CES. But if you don’t have the budget to design and host your own blog, you can quickly set up a free or low-cost option leveraging WordPress or Blogger.
Tips for Solutions Providers: Make sure the blog is updated twice daily during the conference — once in the morning to “preview” the day’s events, and once in the evening to “recap” the day’s events. Include HTML links throughout the blog entry — highlighting executive names, product names, company names and other proper nouns that could potentially improve your search engine optimization.
Don’t worry about readers clicking on the links and “leaving” your blog for a new destination. They’ll appreciate the link and likely come back later to read your next post. Also, make sure you automatically distribute your blog headlines via Twitter. Basically, Twitter becomes your blog headline distribution service.
Video: Text is nice. Pictures are nicer. But video is where it’s at. You’ll notice Lenovo used a lot of video to promote new developments like the Lenovo IdeaPad Slate:
Tips for Solutions Providers: Sure, you can buy expensive video equipment to capture conversations like the one above. Or, you can spend US$200 or less on a consumer device like the Flip video camera. Make sure you keep the video to five minutes or less — attention spans for web video tend to be short.
If you’re video involves an executive interview rather than a product demo make sure the video camera is mounted on a low-cost tripod. And cover roughly three questions and three answers in three minutes or less. Anything longer and you’ll lose viewership.
When a conference ends you shouldn’t go silent. Make sure somebody within your organization owns your long-term social media strategy. Then, pull multiple voices from your company into the online conversation.
Daily blogging can be an overwhelming choice for small VARs that are busy running their businesses. Here’s how to make sure your blog content remains fresh and relevant: Think of your blog as a weekly news feed that repeats itself each month.
- Tuesday, Week One: Write about a new customer win. Even if you can’t reveal the customer’s name, describe their vertical market and the business needs you addressed for them.
- Tuesday, Week Two: Write about your staff. Perhaps there’s a new hire you need to announce. Or maybe one of your sales team members just earned a promotion. Put the spotlight on your staff and their talents.
- Tuesday, Week Three: Write about a new technology or service you’re testing. Similar to how we put the IdeaPad Slate in the spotlight, you can tell your customers about new IT solutions that may address their mobility and communications needs.
- Tuesday, Week Four: Write about a certification your company has earned or a partner program you’ve joined. Highlight your vendor relationships but make sure you promote your brand as the top priority.
That’s it. Once you’re done with four blogs (one per week), it’s time to move onto the next month and start all over with your Week One theme — highlighting another customer win.
That approach should carry you through until you hit the road again, promoting your products or services at the next major conference or business gathering.