Free Pen? Stress Ball? The Challenges of a Tradeshow
No one pays to attend a business conference so they can walk the tradeshow floor. But most attendees do take time from their schedules to cruise the aisles, check out what’s new, and see if they can discover any insight to bring back to the team (along with a few freebies).
What I will never understand is why any business would invest their precious marketing budget to have a booth presence, but fail to design and execute a strategy that will optimize booth traffic from its target audience.
While everyone knows that a freebie is a great way to lure someone over, too often attendees ‘grab and go’ with not so much as a ‘thank you!’ to the booth staff. If you think your logo on that pen will remind the recipient about your business and prompt them to follow up with you weeks after the show is over, you’re kidding yourself.
The reality is, not every conference attendee is your target. And there are smarter ways to find and attract your real targets — and keep them engaged long after the show ends.
- Most conferences offer access to the attendee list. Just because you can get your hands on it, doesn’t mean you should communicate with everyone on the list. Take the time to cull through it and identify your real hit list – by title, and/or company name. Be sure to suppress your competitors.
- Choose a premium that has true value. The choice of the premium itself is the single, most overlooked, opportunity. Don’t select your gift based on the price per unit (no one needs another $1 pen). Instead, think of gifts that will be viewed as truly helpful or valuable. Cell phone rechargers. Custom chocolate bars. Travel first aid kits. All are useful for anyone ‘on the road.’ Or, better still, tie the premium into your product/service message. We once gave away desktop Zen gardens that came with toy construction equipment at a tradeshow aimed at builders – it was a huge success.
- Invite your targets to visit your booth. About 4 weeks before the event, mail a postcard to your targeted list, and invite them to stop by to get their free (high value) gift when they bring in their postcard. DON’T place your gift on display, for all the lookie-loos to grab.
- Choose your booth staff carefully. Who will man the booth? Do they have the elevator pitch down pat? (Most attendees don’t have the time for a full-blown presentation.) They should be ready to receive the postcard, recognize that they are now in front of a valuable target, and know how to quickly give a pitch while retrieving the gift. Make sure the staff scans the attendees event badge to capture full contact information.
- After the show, deploy a smart follow-up strategy. Review your booth visitors with the sales team and segment your leads for different follow up strategies. If your company specializes in specific vertical industries, then your follow-up email message should be custom written to that industry. If you know different titles probably have different "pain points" that your product/service can solve, then segment leads by title and industry, and send each title a message that addresses their particular "pain." In your email, thank them for stopping by your booth (otherwise, they may not remember your brand name), and include links to valuable content to demonstrate you understand them, their category and the issues they’re probably trying to solve. Do NOT gate the content! Your email recipients have already identified themselves to you, so now it’s time to build the relationship naturally. Your email dashboard should be able to help you determine who opened, read, and clicked on a link.
- Create an email series to nurture your leads. By now you should know that all leads are not deep into the buy cycle. Many are just in information-gathering mode, so keep feeding them emails with links to more and more content. Mix it up with case studies, executive briefings, invitations to webcasts, infographics, video and other content that will help educate them and position your brand as a category leader.
Remember, the freebie you select will be the sole enticement to get them to stop by your booth. So stop thinking about trinkets and trash or your targets will not only ignore you, they won’t develop a positive brand impression … especially from that $1 pen that runs out of ink within days of using it.
A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.