How to Leverage Short-Form Video in Marketing Your Next Trade Show or Live Event

March 15, 2023

Mike Szczesny

Mike Szczesny is the owner and vice president of EDCO Awards & Specialties, a dedicated supplier of employee recognition products such as crystal awards, branded merchandise and athletic awards. Szczesny takes pride in EDCO’s ability to help companies go the extra mile in expressing gratitude and appreciation to their employees.

Many live events and trade shows are back after a long absence and look very different than in the past. There have been changes in the length, structure, format, venue and content — all for the betterment of the event space. It also caused a change in marketing. Promoting a trade show or live event should be just as interactive as the experience, giving rise to short-form video content. 

Unfortunately, not everyone in the event space has yet to master this medium. As organizers move into the next generation of trade shows and live events, it’s important to consider the following when using short-form videos for marketing:

Commence Early Preparations

Producing short-form videos takes time, as you’ll be splicing together a lot of different footage to create this type of content. It would be wise to start planning well before the event — not just for months, but for a year in advance, to capture all the necessary footage and think strategically about how to promote the event.

By starting early, you’ll be able to think strategically about promoting the event through video and have plenty of time to experiment with different approaches to see what works best. You’ll also be able to gather feedback from stakeholders and make any necessary adjustments along the way.

Build Anticipation With Event Teasers

Teasers are often one of the most effective ways to get the word out about an upcoming show or event. They’re typically fewer than 30 seconds long, which makes them easily shareable on social channels. Make sure they’re not only attention-grabbing but contain all the key details about the proceedings, such as date, location, event statistics, highlights of previous events, speakers (if any) and a call-to-action. 

Utilize Videos to Attract Exhibitors

Promoting a trade show or live event through short-form videos shouldn’t just be about improving your attendance numbers or ramping up the excitement, though that will be a big part of it. Never forget that this medium is just as persuasive in recruiting new sponsors and exhibitors. Consider splicing footage of past shows, testimonials, post-show highlights and so on to paint an interesting story of the upcoming event. 

Address Frequently Asked Questions

Attendees will inevitably have questions about the show. And while you should always include a FAQ page on the event’s website, a short-form video can provide another layer by offering details on those aspects that people most want to know. It’s all about finding the right questions to answer to make them a valuable component of your marketing materials and ensuring that it helps cut down on some of the back-and-forth between attendees and your support team. 

Showcase the Host City

Naturally, attendees will spend time doing something other than just participating in the show or event. Off hours will open another opportunity to develop additional short-form video content and make your event even more appealing to potential attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. Consider shooting short videos showcasing what to do in the host city, including featured landmarks, restaurants, shops, entertainment and activities in the surrounding area. 

Feature Honorees in Videos

If the event is more of an industry summit, and you’ll be handing out plaques or crystal awards during a ceremony, shooting short biographical videos of the honorees might make sense. Provide details on their background and experience, and splice in interview footage of the individuals to make the content enjoyable while also giving attendees a chance to get to know who is being honored and will be speaking at the event. 

Provide a Behind-the-Scenes Look

People sometimes want to see how the sausage gets made. It’s educational, and isn’t that what this industry is all about? Give attendees a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in the lead-up to an event. Time-lapse footage showing the setup of the trade show floor or a navigational video detailing how to get around the show floor as it is being set up would be interesting and beneficial. Just use your imagination to create an interesting behind-the-scenes spot. 

Implement an Omnichannel Strategy

Not all attendees, exhibitors or sponsors frequent the same marketing channels. Even if the event or show is for a niche audience, they’ll often have their channels of choice for correspondence. Meet people where they are by using an omnichannel approach for short-form video distribution. Post videos on the event website, of course, but also share on social channels, including in emails, use for presentations and more.  

Tailor Video Production to Specific Channels

What works on YouTube won’t work on TikTok. Review the channels you intend to use and build video content around their best practices. The last thing you want is to produce marketing material that does nothing to get meaningful results regarding awareness, interest, attendance or excitement. 

As with all marketing materials, making short videos to promote your next trade show or live event will require creativity. Start planning early, experiment with production and test the content to determine what resonates with target audiences — whether the target is attendees, exhibitors or sponsors. 

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