Ahhhhhhh, can you smell that? It’s the smell of freshly printed brochures, stale muffins and opportunity.
Oooowh can you hear that? It’s the click-clack of booths being set up, banners erected and promotional pens being splayed across tables.
This can only mean one thing: a Trade Show is looming. For some, a trade show is a field of opportunities, for others it’s a money sink, and for others it’s an unavoidable evil in an otherwise perfect universe… Anyway, I digress.
Trade shows are one of the old-school sales and marketing behemoths that seems to have managed to age gracefully as we shifted into the digital age. Sure, attendance is down. Sure, it’s more expensive than ever to participate. Yet trade shows are still run and some just keep getting bigger and bigger. Don’t take my word for it though, see the numbers for yourself:
81% of trade show attendees have buying authority Source: CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget
46% of trade show attendees are in Executive or Upper Management. Source: CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face
92% of trade show attendees say their main reason for attending trade shows is to see new products being featured. Source: CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face
64% of trade show attendees are not customers of the exhibitors’ companies. Source: Exhibit Surveys 2015
The perception of a brand that is not represented at an event falls by 5%. This is true even for global brands. Source: Facetime.org “The Power of Live Events
So, if you’re in an industry for which there is a trade show – you should most likely aim to attend.
But don’t despair, a trade show might be costly and take a lot of time. But if you do things right, you’ll reap the benefits in other areas of your business.
For example, is your website a bit outdated? Why not spruce it up for the trade show, and hey – it will benefit your company the rest of the year.
Things like this which will live on after the trade show can be a great investment, and the trade show is really just a push to finally do it.
I’d like to touch on a couple of things you might not think to review, but which will make your trade show experience (and business experience!) much better.
First is your list of customers. If I say can I see your list of customers, and your face blanks and you try to recall where you saved it, remember if it’s in your CRM, or hope your email contacts has them all – then this is about you.
I don’t want to shame you – I’d rather help you solve the problem. Having a clean and tidy list of your customers past and present is just a good business practice. It means you can get in touch with them easily to keep in touch and keep selling to them. So, if your contacts are a shambles, use the trade show as the perfect excuse to clean them up. Even if you can’t find them all, having a set place where they are will mean you can continue adding as they pop up in different places.
Now you might think – why on earth is this related to a trade show?!
The reason this is important, is that a trade show tends to generate leads, and a lot of leads at that. So, if you don’t already have a system for keeping track of customers, I’m guessing you don’t have a very good system of keeping track of leads either. If you take the time now to clean up your contacts, then adding new leads will be a breeze. Just tag them as a new lead so you can differentiate between leads and customers.
The second thing which is really key to getting a good ROI on trade shows is ensuring you have a plan to actually follow up the leads. It’s one thing to call a few hot prospects after the trade show. It’s a whole different proposition to follow up a few hundred leads. And often that’s what you’re going to have to do after a trade show if you really want to get a return.
What solution do I propose? Well to be honest the best solution is to call everyone. But I’m going to be realistic and assume that’s not going to happen.
The next best option is email automation. If you’re not sure what this is, it’s very simple – the name explains itself. It’s a set of emails which go out automatically. These can either go out on certain days or a certain number of days after a prospect is added to a list.
You might think this is a cold and impersonal way to connect with people. But that’s not the case at all! The key to email automation is writing emails which sound very genuine and connect with the prospects pain points. This could mean you need five different chains, each addressing a different pain point or highlighting a different service you provide. So be it, but when you do it once, it’s done forever.
For trade shows we’d recommend setting up some emails that go out even during the show. For example, you could invite prospects added on day one to visit your booth for a free beer/hot dog/soda on the second day at 3pm for example. This is a great way to build deeper connections, and guess what – most of your competition won’t be doing this. Another example is if you’re running a competition you can invite them to see the live draw. The idea is to start connecting immediately and build the foundation for a relationship.
Following on from the trade show emails with relevant information can be sent to educate and provide value. You will want to still call these leads, but having the emails means you don’t have the pressure to follow up every lead within a week of the trade show ending. Instead you can first focus your attention on HOT leads.
If you’ve dabbled in email automation before – you’ll be well equipped to handle this for your next trade show. If you’re a bit new to all of this, or perhaps just don’t have the time to get your head around it – we can help!
Our service Set’n’Prosper is made for people like you – people who don’t have the time or headspace to do it themselves. Our aim is to take your ideas, combine them with our expertise and deliver emails which will work. We take up as little of your time as possible, as we know you’re busy enough with other preparations.
Are you interested? Get in touch today, our consultants love learning about new businesses and tailoring a solution that fits like a glove!