Hoping that qualified buyers will randomly walk into your booth is not an effective way to generate leads at a trade show. The truth is that by the time attendees get to the show, most of them have a list of exhibitors they are going to visit during the expo. As an exhibitor, you need to get on that list before the show starts or else you are leaving the success or failure of your lead collection to random chance. Different strategies are required to communicate with the two audiences you need to address:
Your Customers and Prospects
If you don’t have a pre-show marketing plan that involves your sales department, then you are missing out on a lot of opportunities. Your trade show manager can’t be expected to be the only ones attracting people to your booth. They need help. You sales people should be working with the marketing department to drive traffic to your booth.
Some of the best conversations you will have at an event are with the people that your sales people are currently talking to. You need to insure those people visit your booth. If they miss your booth, and end up talking to your competition, it could cost you a sale. Here are a couple of ideas to facilitate this.
1. Encourage your customers and prospects to attend the event and tell them in advance why they need to visit your booth. Sending an email is the simplest way to tell them that you will be exhibiting and it’s a good idea to send two emails:
a. Drive Traffic to the Show. The first email should be sent 2-3 months before the event with the focus more on getting your customers and prospects to attend the event. Ask the show organizer if they have a program in place to help you with this. Maybe you can talk them into offering a discount to your prospects. At the very least, they can give you a show logo and text that outlines the benefits of the show. If you need a template for this type of email, our company would be happy to send you one.
b. Drive Traffic to your Booth. The second email should be sent closer to the event and detail what you’re doing at the event. Ideally you want to send this email to the list of registered attendees, but if that’s not available, then send it to your prospect/customer list. We’ve found that emails that talk about something you are doing at the show i.e. Special Events/Parties, Seminars, Product Launches, Free Giveaways get much higher click through rates than those that simply say “come see us in booth #555”.
2. Encourage your sales people to invite their prospects to the booth. Buy a few $50 gift cards and run a contest to see which sales person can schedule the most appointments during the show (in the booth or off site). Just because a prospect is attending the show doesn’t mean they are going to come by your booth. Making an appointment to meet with them will increase your odds of seeing them at the event and moving the sales process forward.
Your Customers, Prospects and Everyone Who Registered as Attendees
Send an email to the registered attendees. The most effective way to communicate with the people that will be at the show is to send an email to the registered attendee list. When we talk to exhibitors that have used our service to send emails to attendees, they almost unanimously say that the email they sent before the event made a noticeable difference in the traffic they saw in their booth.
The difficulty is getting permission from the show organizer to send to the list. If your show doesn’t already offer this opportunity, let your show contact know that this is something you want to do when you’re signing your contracts for the show. There are companies like ours that will protect the attendee list and provide this service at no cost to the show organizer.
Event Technologies works with show organizers to provide pre and post show email marketing services for their exhibitors. www.event-techs.com