Assure Qualified Booth Traffic Before the Show Even Starts
Set Realistic Goals. Trade shows present a golden opportunity to introduce your company and products to thousands of decision makers who are in buying mode. Yet for the many exhibitors who don’t prepare and execute a marketing plan for each show, they can be an expensive waste of time. Here’s what you can do to ensure a show’s success before it even starts:
Always set measurable goals before each show – both for the show as a whole and for each staff member involved. In my experience, most attendees know exactly what they want to get out of a show, but most exhibitors aren’t nearly as focused.
Market Months Ahead. Getting people to your booth doesn’t depend on whims of nature, the economy or the show management. It’s yourresponsibility.
According to research, 76% of trade show visitors formulate their “must see” list of exhibitors beforehand. Market early and often to make sure your company is on your prospects’ “must see” lists.
Start by identifying those people who have bought from you or inquired about your products before and who are likely to attend the show. Add appropriate categories from the trade show attendee list and possibly some rented lists.
Set Appointments in Advance. Two or three months before the show begins, contact your prospects with a combination ofmailings, e-mailings and telemarketing.
E-mail is the least expensive option, and can also extend the life of the show. One of our clients has found that 16% of the people they e-mail to before a show refer back to the e-mail again in the two months following the show.
To reach all your prospects, mail and/or telemarketing must usually be added to the mix. Send a personal invitation in advance of the show outlining what you’ll be exhibiting, the benefits of visiting your booth, your booth number, dates of the show, and who to contact for more information. A personalized letter is far more effective than a postcard or mass mailing.
Follow the mailing with a call inviting prospects to make a specific appointment to visit with a sales rep at the show. Even if they won’t commit to a specific time, most will agree to come by on “Tuesday morning” or “Wednesday afternoon.” Follow up with a confirming e-mail or postcard with the name of the rep they should ask for when they visit.
You’ll be amazed what a difference this technique makes in generating qualified visitors to your booth. It may sound labor-intensive, but most of it can be outsourced easily.
Heighten Your Visibility. Reinforce your pre-show prospecting every chance you get. Announce your presence at the show and your booth number on your web site, in ads, and in your customer newsletters. Send pre-show press releases on products you plan to introduce at the show. Contact show management and offer to conduct seminars at the show. The more times your prospects see your name, the longer they’ll remember you.
You’re Halfway There. Packing your booth with qualified prospects is only half the battle. Maximizing results also requires staff training, a system for qualifying leads and capturing enough information for effective follow-up…and then actually following up. More on this in future issues of Let’s Grow!