Half of b-to-b marketers love doing trade shows; the other half hate it. The difference is, those who think trade shows are worthwhile understand success depends on preparations made before and after the show. The members of the other group seem to simply set up their booths and wait for qualified prospects to stop by and identify themselves.
Convincing people to visit your booth requires several efforts, including scheduling visits with prospects and advertising your event. The following preshow promotional activities can help your company generate more qualified booth traffic, ensuring you won’t be standing around:
• Send free exhibit passes to past inquirers and other prospect lists. Search your in-house database for people who have expressed interest in your products or services in the past. After you have a list in place, send the prospects free exhibit passes, which are often available at no charge from show management.
• Call hot prospects and key customers, and encourage them to visit your booth. People love to feel wanted, so use this to your advantage by personally inviting attendees to visit your booth. Provide incentives such as a special premium just for loyal customers and potential leads, or a one-to-one product demonstration, if applicable.
• Post your event dates in print and online mediums. Include such taglines as “See us at Booth 1525 at XYZ Expo” on print ads, in direct mail letters and even as part of your e-mail signature. Post all of your company’s events on your website, and make sure they are mentioned in your e-newsletter.
Smart salespeople and marketers know their job isn’t complete after the show is over and the booth has been packed and shipped to the next location. Use these post-show tactics to dramatically improve your ROI:
• Follow up on information requests within 24 hours. Fax, e-mail or send leads to your inquiry handlers overnight, and communicate that you want the material expedited within 24 hours. Fast response is your second opportunity to get the upper hand over the competition and to make a favorable impression—your first opportunity was your performance at the trade show.