How to Use Account-Based Marketing in Your Trade Show Event Strategy


We’ve all had to throw an event before. Maybe a birthday party, a wedding, or a dinner with friends. There’s a lot of planning involved, from selecting your guest list, what they will leave with, and sending personal invitations – letters, email, or maybe through social media. Participating in a company event, like a trade show, is no different (x1000!). 

As marketers, we all strive for our trade show to be successful, but that success can often be measured ambiguously. However, with the use of account-based event marketing, you can increase the likelihood of success. By utilizing an ABM event strategy in your trade show marketing, you can target and engage with your most valuable prospects with personalized messages and experiences that convert better and retain more.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach that focuses on targeting specific accounts rather than a broad audience. It involves tailoring your marketing efforts to meet the specific needs and preferences of your ideal buyers. ABM allows you to create personalized experiences for your target accounts, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

When it comes to your trade show strategy, knowing things like who else is exhibiting, registered attendees, and whether or not you have engaged with them in the past can help your sales and marketing team create tailored messaging inviting them to your event or booth throughout various parts of the funnel. 

Define Your Ideal Buyer

Before diving into ABM, it is crucial to define your ideal buyer persona. This involves understanding the characteristics, pain points, and motivations of your target audience. It is also important to have an agreed-upon ICP, or Ideal Customer Profile, within your sales and marketing department. This includes firmographic data like industry, company size, revenue, and geography.  Having this information in place will allow you to vet your existing lead list along with event exhibitors and attendees to define who is worth reaching out to before the show. 

Identify Target Account 

Targeted account lists play a significant role in ABM event strategy. With an account list, you can define and segment your prospects and engage with them through personalized and relevant content at various stages of their purchase journey. When it comes to trade shows, with the right data and targeted account list, you can create modern and curated event experiences that blend into the ABM funnel, significantly increasing your chances of closing a deal and retaining customers.

At a trade show, you don’t have much control over who will be there exhibiting or attending. Therefore, it’s important to use your CRM to pull out any target accounts that you know will be there or are in the area and could attend the show. A tiered approach is recommended here. For example, your top priority accounts may be current customers you know will be exhibiting at or attending the show, and make sure you invite them to stop by your booth, speak with your team, and give them the opportunity to set an appointment to address any new needs. A secondary priority would be lead nurturing. Look at the exhibitor list and see if there are any standouts, for example, companies you may already have in your funnel or that you’ve engaged with in the past. Give them an opportunity to meet some of the faces behind your company, or even set an appointment up with them during the show. 

Engaging Target Accounts, Before, During, and After the Event:

Before the event make sure you invite the right people using your target account list. Sure, raffles and free stuff are a great way to get foot traffic, but it may not be the traffic you want. Instead focus on your priority accounts, who you want to attend your event or stop by your booth, and give the exclusive offers to them. You can leverage personalized email campaigns segmented by role or industry, social media outreach, and targeted content to create buzz and generate interest. 

During the event, make sure to provide personalized experiences, such as exclusive networking opportunities or tailored presentations. Set up appointments with highly engaged prospects beforehand so you can give them one-on-one time and a custom experience. You may entice top-of-funnel passersby with raffles or swag in exchange for their business cards. 

After the event, review the contacts who attended or dropped by your trade show booth. Did they have an appointment? Drop their business card? Segment based on high to low-priority accounts, and make sure to send personalized and thoughtful follow-ups with a clear CTA. This should vary based on how they’ve interacted with you thus far.

Leverage Digital Marketing Channels

While you are preparing for the event, create a strong online presence with content that would help your prospects. Also, consider how the experience at your booth will mirror or reflect your website and any other content pieces you are promoting. The added brand consistency will make you more recognizable at the event.  Draw them in with useful guides and tools related to your event that can assist them in overcoming their challenges or tell them something they didn’t already know. 

Display ads can be a useful tool in letting your prospective audience know you will be at the show. These might be companies you haven’t previously had the opportunity to connect with, but you know will be in attendance and fit your ideal customer profile. 

Measure and Analyze Success

To ensure the success of your ABM event strategy, it is essential to measure and analyze your results. Important ways to measure your trade show success may be appointments booked beforehand and of course marketing qualified leads. To measure the success of ABM specifically, look to see who was on your target account list that you created before the show to identify what your conversion rate was through your combined effort of marketing and sales.

Account-based event marketing is not an easy process, but it helps to focus your efforts on high-value accounts and achieve more conversions. By following these ABM strategies, you can set up a more personalized and useful marketing funnel, leading to increased engagement, more conversations, and, of course, a more profitable trade show. By implementing an ABM strategy before, during, and after your event, you can get the most out of your investment.

For more information on trade show marketing, check out our podcast episode –