Trade show marketing is a great way to enhance your experience when participating in a trade show, as it is a great opportunity to get exposure to new prospects for your business. Where else other than the Internet do prospects find you? But you do need to tread cautiously in choosing which trade show to participate in. Creating a pre-show marketing plan and post-show follow-up are key to the success of maximizing your trade show attendance, generating traffic to your booth, and nurturing any new connections made while at the show.
The best way to maximize your trade show marketing efforts is to first identify the target market you are interested in reaching and make sure there is a strong likelihood that they will be attending this particular show, even if you have been an exhibitor there before. Has the show changed in its demographic audience? Are your competitors attending? If so are they trying to attract the same market segment that you are? Or are they looking to attract a different segment for a product line that is substantially different from yours? Don’t just exhibit there because another competitor is unless it makes sense to attend to support your marketing strategy. Weak strategy can lead to weak performance and trade shows can be a very expensive proposition with booth fees, personnel commitment, travel costs and more.
Part of your trade show marketing plan should be doing pre-show marketing once you find a trade show that is a good fit. Consider driving people to your booth rather than just waiting for people to walk by. Hiring trade show event staff to drive traffic to your booth is another great way to gain exposure and make new connections with your target audience. The event staff is trained on your products and services, therefore offering an informative introduction to the company and as prospects gain more interest, a salesperson is then introduced for an indepth discussion when it gets into specific details.
Pre- Trade Show Marketing
Often you can purchase a list of the registered attendees. Something as easy and quick as a variable data postcard with your booth number and a strong call to action, for example a raffle, can drive traffic to your booth, allow sales personnel an audience with your prospects and allow you to quickly capture vital contact information through entry forms or a card reader at the booth. That card reader can capture the contact’s information place it into an excel spread sheet or even better, add it to an excel spread sheet that you have built in advance with check off boxes to indicate which of your product lines your prospects would like information about.
You can of course have product literature to share with prospects at your booth, a giveaway as they walk by but that often gets lost after the show if finished. Consider using the database you have just compiled from your entry forms or your card reader and excel spread sheet to upload as emails by territory to your sales reps for follow up on and then to support those reps, consider a mailing of a customized literature pack with personalized letter carrying your reps name and contact information to these same prospects. Schedule it to arrive the week after the show.
Post- Trade Show Marketing
If you are collaborating with printer who has JIT (just in time) print capability and who has a work flow that can handle your template letter, you can have a customized package sent out to each of the prospects that visited your booth. This can all be an automated process that will allow every lead to be captured. Your sales rep will find their cold call warmed up since the prospect has already been to your booth, you know what they are interested in no guesses here (they told you). Your rep now has that information in the first email that you sent them from this new database you composed at the show and the prospect has a nice packet of information on their desk. They have been told in the letter to expect a call from the particular rep you have indicated in the letter. It isn’t mixed in with all the premiums etc that they picked up at the booths and forgot to bring back into the office.
Trade show follow up is key to trade show success. Just showing up with a booth and hoping you will get business doesn’t work anymore. As with any sales process, it takes nurturing your relationships with prospects down the path to becoming a customer If you do the appropriate follow up you can measure and track the success of your trade show participation and the list you have built can be a great addition to your CRM.