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Making the Most of a Trade Show Marketing – Converting Visitors to Sales

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Using promotional products at trade shows

With the 2010 National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA) convention this weekend in Orlando, it got us thinking about how to make the most out of a trade show exhibit.  Successful trade show marketing is more than just a “pretty” booth, giving out company literature to passers by, engaging in conversations about your products with visitors and collecting contact information.  Though so much effort, time and money goes into the planning and execution of trade show marketing, the real work doesn’t stop there! To have a truly successful trade show exhibit you must promptly and continually follow-up with the visitors to your booth and convert them to sales.

It is astounding – and almost embarrassing for anyone who employs trade show marketing – that, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (2009), 80% of leads made at trade shows never receive a follow-up.  Why put all that money, time and effort into a marketing effort if you’re not going to follow through?

To increase the ROI on trade show marketing, it is imperative that you put as much money, time and effort into the post-show as you did the “big show”.   Here are a few things to consider:

  • As part of your comprehensive trade show marketing strategy, plan the post-show follow-up before the trade show.  Don’t wait till after the show to figure out what you’re going to do with the leads!   Questions to ask:
    • Who is going to do the follow-up?  You?  Your sales team?  An outsourced lead generation business?
    • When are you going to follow-up?  That day?  A week after the show?  Two weeks?  A month?  Never?  (Okay, kidding on the last option!)
    • How are you going to follow-up?  Email?  Phone?  Mail?  In person?  A combination of them?
  • Prioritize your leads while at the show.  If possible, identify those with decision-making powers from those without.  If you’re able to make other determinations (i.e., purchasing timeframe, size of budget, etc), use those to “score” the prospects.  Once you prioritize, reach out to the most promising prospects first and go from there.
  • Don’t waste time.  Depending on the post-show trade show marketing strategy you devised, you should use whatever means of communication possible at the trade show (or hotel) to either: (1) make initial contact with the prospect yourself or (2) relay the prospect information back to your office or third-party lead business.
  • When you conduct your follow-up be sure to personalize it by addressing the concerns, needs or interests that were discussed with the prospect at the trade show.  It’s important to refer to the conversation you had with them to distinguish yourself from the competition.  This will show the prospect that you were really listening to them, paying attention to their needs and have the solution.
  • Offer something of value to your prospect when you follow-up – free samples, discounts or valuable industry insights like a whitepaper.  Don’t just send a prospect the same literature they had picked up at the trade show.  Make it new and enticing to capture their attention.
  • Be sure to follow-up promptly.  Don’t let too much time pass before you reach out to the prospect because your once hot lead will turn cold very quickly.   As with any other networking event, you want to contact your prospect while they are still thinking about the trade show, the things they learned, the products they viewed, the people they met and the conversations they had.

Remember, the follow-up is one of the most critical aspects of trade show marketing.  It is possible to effectively and efficiently turn your booth visitors into customers so long as you have a good strategy in place.  If the size of your company and/or size of your target prospects are incompatible then we strongly consider hiring someone else to prioritize them and follow-up.

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