Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Enhancing Marketing & Customer Interaction at Trade Shows
Powered by Smart Phone Technology & Social Media Tools

As a Marketing Manager at ProQuest, I get to help librarians and users (library patrons/school teachers and students) find information to power successful research and, ultimately, learning.

Sometimes the end result of using the website materials I create leads a student to information that helps them get a better grade. Sometimes they assist a grad student in uncovering new avenues of research around a thesis topic. Other times, they help patent lawyers nail down the critical parts of a business deal/tech design to make a new product or drug and get it to market before the competition.

Whatever the outcome, my passionate support of ProQuest's amazing research tools and services makes a difference. That alone propels me to work harder to discover fresh ways to support our users online and off.

In recent years, my daily work has gradually morphed into both web support and social media outreach for all of our markets, growing well beyond just K-12 schools. (Hint: It's too much fun, too rewarding, to be work!)

Our Twitter channel, FaceBook pages, accounts on FourSquare and Gowalla, and use of TweetPhoto and Qik video have all made a big impact on our marketing. Most recently, I've worked with our trade show team to increase interactivity with customers during our trade shows.

As a conference attendee (or booth stand rep) at some point in your career, I'm guessing you've experienced what I have -- you're walking the show floor, and every booth is populated with hungry sales people trying to rope you in.

All well and good. Today, though, conference attendees have Internet-connected smart phones, laptops, and netbooks close at hand. They post real-time messages to colleagues about what they’re learning, seeing, and hearing. For the past few years, these messages were confined primarily to comments about airline flights, food, hotel problems, and issues with the show staff.

Woven through the noise are quick quotes borrowed from session speakers and keynotes, occasional links to PowerPoint decks, and other session materials. Still others mention products and companies by name, informing the virtual world about new product releases, new functionality, and more. Slowly but surely, these online communications have morphed into critical channels of interaction and info sharing.

In recent months, companies like ProQuest have begin to make leverage the social aspects of these technology tools, engaging with customers at trade shows and live events using:

Real-Time Media & Message Sharing Tools

Online Messaging (#sla10 and #ala10)
Twitter (SLA and our ALA 2010 tweet stream)

Quick Response (QR) Codes

Check-in Notification Services
FourSquare & Gowalla (at ALA)

Video: Share from Booth in Real-Time (then Tweet)
Qik Video (ALA new platform and toast)

Photos: Share via Tweets
TweetPhoto (ALA tied to Tweets)

I used all of these tools at our recent SLA and ALA trade show appearances, to increase brand awareness, share resources and tips to boost usage of our products, invite users to sign up for free online training, find our booth stands at events around the world, and more.

Click each service name above to see our efforts in each space for each show. And keep this in mind -- DROID phones (what I use, cheaper than) iPhones both offer the apps and tools you need to set up and post to these services for no cost at all. Talk about low-cost effective marketing to savvy customers!

To see all of these smart phone tools for spreading the word at trade shows and live events, click here.

As for QR codes, these little gems span online and print.

These blocky codes are “scanned” by your cell phone camera and instantly connect the user to online media (videos), web pages, and more. ScanLife is a free program (application) that makes trackable QR codes possible in our trade show booth, making it easy for savvy customers to interact with each of our kiosks using their phone, and get more information via a webpage, PDF file, email signup link, and more.

The many QR codes in the booth area helped customers get our newest PDF catalog/sheets, and even watch our new ProQuest platform launch video on YouTube.

Some photos of our booth/activites... enjoy!

On the last day of the show, PRNewswire gave us a few minutes in Time Square to announce our new platform! Here's the release this photo refers to...

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