Trade shows have continually been regarded as the single-most effective component of business-to-business marketing. In fact, in one national report, 91% of trade show attendees said they receive their most useful buying information from these events. This makes sense—especially when the trade show revenue in the U.S. in 2016 reached a whopping $12.8 billion.
No matter the industry, trade shows give businesses an ability to increase the awareness of their brand and drive sales. In general, trade shows create customer engagement and are a great way to launch new products or ideas while enhancing product knowledge.
However, not all business owners recognize the value of trade shows and do not render them a priority in the company’s marketing approach.
Most organizations see trade shows as merely a time to give out as many collateral pieces and brochures as humanly possible. And while this is a viable strategy in some trade show scenarios, this won’t actually help your marketing team in a constructive way. It’s true that many people are just there for the freebies, but others—like the 83% of trade show attendees with buying power—are there to become qualified leads and even customers.
Because of this, it’s better for your organization to receive attendees’ contact information so that you are in control to give them more information after the show.
In order to receive return on investment (ROI) from marketing at trade shows, we’ve compiled three phases to help you be successful at your next event.
3 Phases of “Working” the Trade Show
Phase 1 - Pre-Trade Show Activities
- Determine what giveaways you will have at your booth and how you will display your products and services.
- Email the attendees and invite them to visit your booth. Give them a hint of a raffle prize to provide an extra incentive to visit you.
- Send a letter to the attendees with the same email message. Not everyone will read the email, but most people will open a #10 envelope that comes across their desk.
- Leave all of your trifold brochures back at the office. You can take a few for anyone who truly asks (almost begs) for one.
- Pack a fishbowl to collect business cards and raffle drawing entries at the tradeshow.
- Not everyone will bring business cards, so create an entry form with “Name, Email, Phone # and Mailing Address.”
- You should also make sure to bring a phone or computer along so you can collect the social media channels of each visitor.
Phase 2 - On-Site Activities
- When you are at the event, remember that you are there to soft sell. You just want visitors to give you their contact information and leave with a pleasant memory of you and your brand.
- Keep in mind the messaging strategy you’ve developed based upon the target audience at the event. (Haven’t developed one yet? Our team at the Impact Group can help! Call us today.)
- Based upon your interaction, make notes on the visitor’s business card/entry form and rank your leads on a scale of 1-3:
1 – Hot
2 – Medium
3 – Cold
Phase 3 - Post-Tradeshow Activities
- On the very next business day…
- Put all of the contacts into your marketing software system or company-wide list, including your ranking system and notes.
- After three business days…
- Email your “medium” and “cold” leads. Make sure to thank them for stopping by your booth. You can also plug how your products and services can meet their needs. Close the email with a call to action that gives them an opportunity to contact you for more information.
- Call the “hot” leads to establish a more direct, person-to-person communication.
- Within 7-10 business days…
- Send a follow-up letter to all of your contacts.
- In 30 business days and ongoing…
- Include all of your new contacts in your monthly communications flow, whether this includes monthly email blasts or targeted social media posts.
Trade shows are not a thing of the past—but an important component of your business’s future. On average, trade show visitors will tell six or more people about their experience. By following the three phases of trade show preparedness that we created, you can make sure you have success at the event and generate new leads.
Want us to help you develop your strategy, creating marketing materials and messaging for your brand? Our team is here to offer you a free consultation.