Tips for a Successful Tradeshow Season
With September upon us, many of our B2B marketing outsourcing clients are gearing up for a busy tradeshow season. To help, we wanted to share some tips and best practices for making this your most successful tradeshow season ever. Tradeshows are usually an expensive endeavour, so you want to maximize your investment.
Lay the Groundwork
It’s important to set goals for each show. If it’s a show where you expect to meet a lot of new potential customers – set an objective for how many new contacts you hope to make and the amount of new business you expect as a result of leads made at the show.
Let prospects know that you will be attending an upcoming show. Send personalized emails to prospects and include all pertinent information such as booth number, availability for one-on-one meetings and details of any presentations you are making.
Some shows will provide you with an attendee list – if so, vet the list based on your target and develop an email campaign for this segment.
Look your Best
Tradeshows are a significant investment. Make sure that your tradeshow booth and the experience you create at the show effectively portrays your company and value proposition.
At tradeshows, you only have a few seconds to make an impression. Clear messaging and appropriate displays are critical. This is also important for lead qualification. The more quickly an attendee can understand who you are and what you do, the more quickly they will decide if you are relevant to them. This is important because if attendees can self-qualify, you don’t have to deal with a lot of booth traffic that is irrelevant.
A general rule of thumb, staff should be 1 per 50 sq feet of booth space. Depending on the show, the number of attendees and your booth size, having a mix of staff from the technical, sales and senior management teams is important. It enables you to have a variety of staff to connect with attendees who are in similar functions.
Post Show Follow-up
The tradeshow has ended, now what? Input new contacts into your CRM or contact database. Personally follow-up with the most serious prospects as quickly as you can to continue the dialogue – do it within 96 hours. Depending on the contacts collected put them through the lead nurturing process. Depending on your product or service, follow-up to initiate a meeting to discuss their project, send them an invitation to an upcoming webinar or send them a case study that will interest them.
It’s vital to maintain contact and make the connection as soon as possible after the show when the discussion you had is still fresh in your prospects’ minds.
And finally, in this era of changing customer habits and shifting show attendance, make sure you are evaluating the ROI of your attendance at specific shows. Make decisions about which shows you’ll attend in 2011 based on data, not just intuition. Given the cost of attending shows, you may want to shift some of your budget away from trade shows and towards online marketing – the majority of industrial companies we work with are doing just that.
Good luck this tradeshow season.