Use Inbound Marketing Principles to Plan for a Successful Trade Show

Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Mar 20, 2013 7:47:00 AM

planning for a trade showWhen was the last time you went to a trade show? If you're like most of my agency’s clients, you've been to a trade show sometime in the last year or two. What was your trade show experience like? Did it involve a lot of standing around the booth hoping someone would make accidental eye contact and feel guilty enough to come over and talk to you? How did you prep for the show? Did you spend a lot of time on having promo material ready, getting your backdrop just so, and filling your toolkit?

In my experience trade shows are a prime example of how otherwise engaged companies drop the inbound marketing ball. So often companies spend all of their time getting their physical materials together for a show. Those same companies then show up and hope attendees with find them in the show directory and come over to the booth. Trade shows become very inwardly focused and passive. I've seen companies with great social media followings go to trade shows and the only thing on their profiles is a single update about the show! If you're going to spend the money to go to a trade show, do the leg work to make it successful.

Before the Show

Long before the first day of a trade show you should be preparing your target audience. Just because a trade show is something that you physically attend doesn't mean it shouldn't follow the rules of any good inbound marketing campaign.

Your first step should be to decide what your message is and develop calls to action. Of course you're also going to need a great landing page for prospects who engage with your call to action. And once you've got your CTA and landing page you are going to need to attract some attention to them. Maybe you email your current customers and tell them about the trade show and include your CTA. You could also buy/rent a list of the shows attendees and contact them with your CTA. Some shows even have social media accounts or hashtags that attendees can follow or "like" to stay up to date with show news. You can post links to your CTA on the shows' social media outlets.

The key principle to follow is before the show, attract as much attention as you can to the fact that you're going to be there. If you can get people excited about your attendance, maybe with a giveaway or demo you've been talking about online, then you should see more foot traffic to your booth.

At the Show

I've been to a lot of trade shows, and I've noticed a few things about show attendees over the years. The first thing I've noticed is that people tend to lack concrete answers to a very simple question. I like to ask the people manning the booth what makes them different/better than their competition. A lot of the time they say, "Our quality," but what does that mean? No one goes into a trade show and says that they have a substandard product or service; everyone is going to say they have a quality product. How much better is your quality? How does that quality transfer into better performance or results for your customers? If you want to stand out, figure out precise and evidence-based answers to those questions before you step onto the trade show floor. Find the answers, work to define, quantify and support them. This work needs to be done, and marketing needs to do it.

My second piece of advice for day-of-success deals with the people you have manning your booths. Basic rules of business attire are essential; dress neatly and conservatively in clothing that fits well, is clean, and is ironed (if need be). Once you've replaced the too small/too large, rumpled, and casual clothing, you need to work on the enthusiasm levels. If you need to, you can rotate out teams throughout the show to keep your people fresh, awake, and enthusiastic. Whatever you do, you need to keep in mind that the people in your booth are the face of your company. For best results you want the face of your company to be professional, knowledgeable, and engaging.

After the Show

Once you get home after a trade show it can be tempting to sit back and wait for your phone to start ringing, and that's what a lot of companies do. If you want to maximize your trade show efforts, you should treat the post-show just like you did the pre-show; work the inbound marketing. Did you collect emails/business cards at the show? Create a lead nurturing campaign designed specifically for the trade show contacts you collected. Did you hand out flyers or proportional material? Stick a QR code on anything you hand out that directs people to a landing page with a great offer. Did you make new industry connections? Make sure you get on your social media accounts and connect with any new contacts you made at the show.

Don't be afraid to work the trade show angle as much as you can. For example, trade show interviews on your YouTube channel, photo diary of the show on your blog, or blow by blow show updates on your Twitter stream. The key to a successful trade show experience is making every aspect of the show work together. Keep your message clear, arm your people with the quantitative data they need to back up your message, and stay enthusiastic!

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Topics: industrial marketing, Top Line Results, trade shows

How to Generate Leads from Direct Mail

Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 24, 2008 9:47:00 AM

Although I'm an internet marketing guy at heart, if I had to choose another effective way to reach my market, I'd choose trade shows and direct mail. If it works for you, I wouldn't recommend stopping outbound marketing techniques. If they're done right, trade shows and direct mail alllow a marketer to target a market and measure results and ROI. If you can afford the investments, need to grow faster and your competitors are doing it, I don't think you can afford not to leverage these methods.

Doug is a life long direct marketing man and one of the shining online marketing stars in my growing online business network. He wrote a great post on his blog about how to generate leads from direct mail. There's a lot more detail on his post. Here are the highlights.

  • Carefully target your audience.
  • Buy Mailing Lists
  • Focus on your Customer's Needs and solve their most irritating issue. Don't focus on your product.
  • Always stress Benefits.
  • Immediately Seize the reader's attention! Use an Impactful headline or first sentence.
  • Never end a sentence at the bottom of a page in a sales letter.
  • Share some "inside" information.
  • Feature the offer.
  • Give something away for FREE or Run a contest.
  • Use a special "before the price increases" offer.
  • Make a time-limited offer.
  • Base your offer on a limited supply.
  • Offer a special deal to the first 100 people who order.
  • Make a "last chance" offer.
  • "Buy 1 get 1 FREE" always out pulls "2 for the price of 1."

Read his full post.

 

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Topics: direct mail, trade shows, how to generate leads

How to Generate Leads at Trade Shows - HUG All Prospects Masterfully!

Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 14, 2008 11:24:00 AM

Previously, my trade show expert buddies, Jason Kallio and Frank Damelio posted a guest blog post about what not to do when exhibiting at a trade show. Here's their insights about what TO DO:

Now we want to show you how to handle the traffic so you maximize leads. To do this you have to HUG All Prospects Masterfully.

H - Handshake: With a smile and extended hand you can increase your leads by up to 50%. Your hand will be left hanging in the air on occasion, but it's not personal.
U - Use their name like you know them: This is the easiest way to stop someone dead in their tracks. Name badges are your best friend at a show.
G - Give a gift: Make sure to hand them a gift not let them grab it from a pile. The value of the gift is that they now feel they owe you a little bit of their time.
A - Ask qualifying questions: Avoid benefit dumping. Have rehearsed questions designed to quickly find their pain.
P - Plan of action: It is critical to post-show follow up that you agree to the next step with qualified attendees before they leave your booth.
M - Move them along: A trade show is a perishable investment. This is not the time to build the entire relationship. Spending too much time with one visitor costs you multiple leads.

Between part 1 and part 2, we have given you 10 tips that do not cost a penny. Using these is the cheapest fastest way for you to get more leads.

Jason and Frank are experts at trade shows. They plan to write another guest post that talks about the systems they use at trade shows.

Do you have a system for qualifying, collecting, following up and tracking sales from your trade show leads? That's what they'll be blogging about next.


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Topics: trade shows, how to generate leads

How to Generate Leads via Trade Shows - Don't Be a P.E.S.T

Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 1, 2008 2:26:00 PM

Update: Frank has a blog now.  And I'm excited about that.

I have the honor of knowing, not just one, but two trade show marketing experts, Jason Kallio and Frank Damelio. I talk to them quite frequently. Neither are blogging, even though they both have so much great insight to share. So, I suggested they write a guest blog post together:

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has collected trade show statistics since 1978. Research shows the cost to generate a qualified lead at a trade show is $212 vs. in the field is $308. That is a difference of $96 per lead. Why? Trade shows bring your target prospects to you.

Once you have selected the right show, your challenge is to filter through the traffic to find your best prospects. Here are four simple mistakes to avoid being a PEST to your prospect:

P - Put up barriers: Avoid putting tables or other barriers the long way across the front of your booth. Keeping a clear wide open space allows people to step out of the traffic and into your domain.
E - Eat in booth: Mom always said, "Don't talk with food in your mouth." Visitors do not want to be rude and interrupt you while you are eating. They may intend to return, but they won't.
S - Sit in booth: Visitors don't want to make you get up, especially when they are "just looking". If you are already standing, they are much more likely to engage you in conversation.
T - Talk: You are there to engage attendees not one another. If talking to your team, then face the flow of traffic and break off to engage prospects. Leave the booth to check your phone messages.

These four tips don't cost you a penny. I cannot think of a cheaper way to help get you leads. Just for fun, the next time that you are at a show, walk the floor and see how many exhibitors are being a PEST.

Their next guest blog post will talk about what TO DO to maximize the number of leads you - as an exhibitor - can generate.
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Topics: trade shows, how to generate leads

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