I’m sure I do not need to convince you that sales and marketing are two halves of the same whole. Both share the same goals and need to work together to achieve them. Marketing usually fills the sales funnel while sales… well closes the sale. I can’t think of a more perfect example of the collision point between marketing and sales than what surrounds a tradeshow. The direct correlation between the number of people that you reach and the sales that your company will experience is one of a kind. Essentially, you reap what you sew.
Exhibiting at a tradeshow is a cumulative process that involves both a company’s marketers and salespeople working together towards a single purpose-lead generation. At a tradeshow you have an extremely limited period of time to convince individual prospects to stop by your booth. Often, if they haven’t had any previous contact with your company this timeframe is contained to a single glance and chance. Anyone in business can tell you that it’s never good to leave something to chance. Therefore, It is marketing team’s job to create an attention grabbing experience, before, during and after, that will allow the sales people to do what they do best- pitch!
The essential marketing and sales for a tradeshow can be broken up into the following stages:
Pre-show marketing is one of the least used and yet an incredibly efficient component to tradeshow success. The goal of your pre-show marketing should be to create a buzz around your booth. You should introduce your business to new prospects and provide them an incentive to visit your booth. These reasons can be anything from a debut of a innovative product being demonstrated, a special discount for visitors only or a gimmick to look forward to (ex. “Stop by our booth for a game of putt-putt golf and win a FABULOUS prize!”). The important thing to consider is that whatever the hook is, it needs to be both memorable and valuable so that your booth will be on the top of their list to visit.
The question now is how to communicate this. Well, there are quite a few options. The tried and true methods are direct mail and email blasts. With most tradeshows you are able to purchase a list of confirmed attendees and their contact information in order to send out a mailing. They also offer email packages where they “rent” email addresses of the attendees. Typically you provide an html email and the tradeshow organization structures it and distributes it. If you’re lucky, some shows even include these options within your exhibition fees. Regardless, these lists are targeted, specific and well worth the cost. You know exactly how many people you are targeting and the can craft a message tailored to your recipients.
Another component of pre-show marketing is the use of social media. This is NOT optional! Post updates and invites to your show through the various social media presences that you control (blog, facebook, linkedin, etc). Consider even running a special contest or promotion just for those who stop by the booth and mention that they found you through social media. You may even be able to use your actively engaged followers to promote your booth for you on your behalf through likes and shares.
While you are at the show you booth needs to be eye-catching and easy to navigate. There is a very important difference between an exhibit that interesting and attractive and one that is overwhelming. Keep that balance in mind when formulating your marketing plan for your in-show materials and booth design. Simple and succinct is always my preferred method.
From a visual standpoint there are countless options, so it is important to do your research and find the best option for you. Custom logoed back drops, rustic shelving, projected images, product display towers and many other options exist. Find something to represent your product well and make you stand out from the competition. Do you sell glow sticks and party products? Well, why not consider blacking out a portion of your booth to allow your products to really create a unique experience. Like I said it doesn’t have to be a complicated booth, especially if you will be constructing and breaking it down on your own. Save yourself some heartache and sweat by taking the clear and concise approach.
Make sure you have talking points ready and your booth is fully stocked with marketing materials. Catalogs, examples, business cards and takeaways are all important to making that lasting connection with your prospects. Make sure to have plenty of well-designed and appropriate marketing materials. When they can take your product away with them as a physical example you are guaranteed to remain in the front of their mind when the time comes to purchase or present to others.
The follow up. It’s what I would consider the most important piece of the puzzle. You’ve marketed to them; hopefully you met them in person and sent them away with a sample of your product. Now what? Without having a plan to follow up with the prospects that you met at the show, all of your work will be for nothing. Your post-show marketing efforts should be planned out long before the show begins. And you should hit the ground running as soon as you pack up and the tradeshow doors close behind you. It is a time for action!
Create a schedule/timeline of events to happen after the tradeshow is complete. These events should include: follow up communication, delivering on any promises that were made during the show (samples, raffles, etc), and at the very least… thanking those who attended for stopping by. On top of that, don’t be afraid to reach out to the other attendees that you didn’t meet if you are presented the opportunity. They may not be interested in your product now but they could be in the future, so keep that relationship going.
Follow up communication is a salesperson’s number one priority after the show. Any materials that they may need for this activity should be prepared beforehand so there is little to no scrambling to fulfill. The sales team’s only focus should be upon getting in touch with the people that they met. Working from high priority to lowest, I would recommend that all contacts should receive some sort of communication within the first week. With this communication include any samples or pricing promised during the show. Also, be sure to make it personal. While mass communication may be okay for those you didn’t form a relationship with, it’s not for the others.
Thanking those who attended your booth is a great way to separate yourself from the pack. Hand written notes for “hot leads” and other personalized thank you cards can go a long way in creating a lasting business partnership. Show them that they are more than a number to you and you may just become more than another bee buzzing around their heads.
The key to having a successful tradeshow is to prepare thoroughly, be original and follow up in a timely manner. Do those three things and success is guaranteed.
Read our last post on why variable data printing is a must have.
What are your processes for tradeshows? Comment below or tweet us @DMEdelivers #DMEtips