Event marketing (i.e., exhibiting at trade shows) is one of the most effective ways to connect with your audience. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of your customers, prospects, and even vendors are together under one roof. You have the opportunity to make face-to-face connections with your best customers and your future customers. You can create an experiential memory for them. Having a booth gives you a chance to not only make sales, but to form relationships that will last for years.
You can maximize your exhibiting experience by creating a lead generation program that turns prospects into customers.
1 – Determine Your Ideal Customer
Your target market is made up of people and businesses that have a problem your products can solve, or a need they can fulfill. If you are attending a particular event, it’s probably because it hosts a large number of your target prospects. Understand who your customer is and how you can appeal to them. Create a persona for your ideal customer that includes goals, budget, and any number of factors depending on whether you are business to business or business to consumer. The persona you create will help you develop your lead-generation methods and goals.
2 – Set Clear Goals
Most trade show marketers have a series of goals to get to the ultimate goal. For instance, your graphics will be designed to stop attendees and entice them to step into your booth, or at least stop and speak with you. Your main display, whether it is a back-wall or a tabletop display, should present your brand and your marketing message in a way that makes a lasting impression on visitors. One goal in the series may be to hand out promotional items that appeal to your ideal customer. Another goal may be for a specific minimum number of qualified leads per day your team brings in. Also, set a number for how many qualified leads you’d like to bring back from the show. Perhaps the ultimate goal is a certain amount of new bids or orders.
3 – Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
Follow up is absolutely crucial. If you think the show’s over after you dismantle your display, you’re wasting your time and money. Any ROI for the show is going to be generated after the event, when you and your sales team reach out to your qualified leads. Lead follow-up takes time and effort, so be sure to schedule it in advance to happen within the first few days following the show. Follow up on leads starting from the most qualified to the least.
4 – Show Your Staff How to Qualify Visitors
Not every booth staffer is a born salesman – and they don’t have to be. They keys to being a good booth staffer are to WANT to be there, to have product knowledge, and be good with people. The rest, you can train. Provide adequate training for and outline clear expectations of your staffers. Show them how to greet attendees and how to record the qualifying information needed for the sales team. Advise them to listen to the customer’s needs to gather insight into budgets, urgency, and decision-making ability. Tie it all into the goals, and make them part of the post-show rewards.
5 – Strike While the Iron Is Hot, But Don’t Stalk
It’s crucial that you connect with your new leads and contacts within a few days of returning from the show. Leads get cold quickly. Follow through on the action items and promises you made; did you promise an estimate, literature, some other information? Don’t make your “hot leads” wait to hear from you for more than a couple of days, or those leads will fizzle. They’ll go someplace else and they won’t have a need for you any more. On the other hand, if you call the day after the show, you’ll come off as too pushy.