In our last post, we looked at what should be happening before you attend your next trade show. Now, let’s look at what you should focus on during and after the show.
During... But Really Before
While they are technically used during the show, there are 3 things you should complete before the show starts. So, let’s hit on those first.
Identify the Team
This is just as important as making your name known. If you do not have a dedicated sales and marketing team, evaluate the personalities of your staff to see who would work together the best at the show.
I am an introvert. Sometimes talking to people is about like pulling teeth. But I had a manager that like going to trade shows with me. He was the one out in the aisle saying hi and asking if people were looking for a place to hold this kind of conference or that kind of retreat.
He then pulled them to the booth where he turned them over to me. I was the logistics and details person. I knew our buildings in and out. He always felt that if anyone was going to sell the space, it was me.
He got them in, I sold our center. It was a pairing that worked well.
Go ahead and craft any emails you wish to send during the conference before you even set foot in the exhibitor hall. You don’t want to be thinking about this while you are on the floor.
If your marketing automation tool allows it, you can schedule them to go during the conference to help keep you in front of the conference attendees.
Landing Page with a Form
So, the goal for a trade show is to get names.
But does this sound familiar? You have a prospect visit your booth and the conversation is going really well. You have your notepad and you are taking notes. Your mind is whirling of all you can help them accomplish. Then you realize you haven’t even picked up a name. You slyly glance down to the name tag... only to find it obstructed.
Or you asked for a name. Then after the show you can’t find where you wrote the name down, you lost the business card, you can’t read your own handwriting, or you can’t read the prospect’s handwriting.
How about going with a process where the prospect types in their name that can then be pulled in an export? I will go with door number 3, please.
How do you do this? Create another landing page, specifically for the booth.
A landing page is a website page that is separate from your full website. This means you don’t need it to tie into your site with the full menu.
In this case, the page and form are simple. Use the same theme and imagery you have used for your pre-show emails and your booth. Then a few lines of copy (because who is going to take the time to read it) and the form.
If your website is locked down, you can still create a landing page. We touched on companies such as Unbounce in our previous post. You can find additional information there.
The main purpose for having a landing page is to present a form in a clean and professional way. The form will let you capture names without the hassle of deciphering handwriting later. You can then also export the intel to load into your marketing automation tool, reducing the number of errors.
People will fill in the form if you ask. You could tie it back to a giveaway (either with you in the booth or a discount on a future booking). Or use it strictly as a “We will contact you with more details”.
But be sure to follow-up with whatever you say you will do. I had an exhibitor get my information and say they would contact me after the show regarding specifics of my account.
I'm still waiting to hear from them... two years later.
During the conference, get on social media. Use the conference hashtag and twitter, insta, snap, and face.
Pictures of your booth? “We are ready to go for X conference. Be sure to stop by booth 123!”
Attended a session? “’tweetable quote’ Great advice from Joe Smith”
Make your presence known.
In the booth, identify what roles works best with the team there. Is there someone who is great a talking to anyone? Maybe that is the person to pull people in to the booth while another team member gets into specifics.
Get people in the booth to fill in that form on the landing page. Have your landing page up on a tablet or computer.
If the page is responsive in design, bookmark the page on your smart phone. This is a great idea I saw at a recent conference. When we were visiting with the exhibitors, the sales rep had the form on his phone and did not need to look for a pen or an available tablet. Genius.
If your registration permits it and provided it is appropriate for you, attend conference sessions. You are mingling with the attendees. They are seeing your branded attire. They are also seeing your interest in the same topics they are interested in.
I went to one conferences where the session's speaker asked those in a service provider company to raise their hands. She then had the attendees make note of those providers in her session. Her point was that these providers understood the importance of the topic to the attendees and that the providers were there to know more in order to help their clients.
After you have packed up and headed home, kicked off your shoes and relaxed on the couch, what should you be focusing on?
Lists, Lists, and More Lists
Go back through the list of names you gathered at the show and segment your names. If you gathered any and all names, there may be people on your list you just want to put into a general holding tank.
Take the time to pull out those with whom you do want to follow-up. But remember, follow-up with anyone you said you would regardless of the status of the name.
Post Show Emails
Be sure you are sending out post-show communication. Even if it is a simple "thanks for stopping by".
For those with whom you are following-up, you will probably want a personalized email addressing issues or topics you gathered through your conversations. A "Thanks for dropping by and I want to talk a little more about this, this, and this." These are going to be the names that are the most likely to convert.
For all the others, a general thank you is a great way to set up the possibility of a next step. Including a call-to-action (CTA) for a next step is a pro-active way to get those maybes to a let's-talk-more.
This might take a little longer, but be sure you analyze the show. It's an important piece to any marketing campaign. It's the way to know if an activity was successful or not.
This might take longer as it could take a few months to see what business you booked from the show. You, of course, want the business booked to surpass the cost of the show.
If you have a conference management software with a "How Did You Hear About Us", tracking the business that started with a show becomes a little easier.
First, give yourself a gold star for all your hard work. Trade shows, like events, have many pieces that can play a big part in the success of a show.
As a final step, find a place to record notes about the show. This will help you make an informed decision about attending the show again in the future.
Details such as how exhibitors are treated and the quality of the location (if it returns to the same place every year) all play a part in the overall feeling of success for your team.
Then rinse and repeat again next year.