10 Trade Show Tips You Can Start Today
If you invest in trade shows, take a look at these eye-opening statistics:
• The average company allocates 31.6% of their total marketing budget to events and exhibiting, yet 70% of these exhibitors set no specific objectives for their trade show events. (Source: exponents.com & CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into the Overall Marketing Budget)
• 76% of attendees use pre-show information to plan their trade show time, yet less than 20% of exhibitors use targeted pre-show marketing campaigns. (Source: CEIR, Deloitte & Touche Study / Jefferson Davis, Competitive Edge / Stroud Associates)
• 76% of trade show attendees rate face-to-face meetings as extremely important in choosing new products and making lasting connections. 81% of the attendees have buying authority. (Source: CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into the Overall Marketing Budget / Stroud Associates)
Based on the above statistics, it seems that while many companies are spending a good portion of their marketing budget on trade shows because they understand the intrinsic value of the face-to-face opportunities found at these events, few are maximizing their full potential with targeted pre-show campaigns. Since face-to-face interaction is so highly valued by both the attendees and the exhibitors, with the added bonus that most of the attendees are also the decision makers with buying power, it would follow that the best pre-trade show marketing campaigns would have a focus on setting up face-to-face appointments with the attendees.
The following is a proven timeline with tips and strategies to help you execute a flawless pre-trade show appointment setting campaign:
Three Months Before the Show:
• Develop messaging that speaks to your prospects’ pain points and how your offering is a solution.
• Coordinate all marketing for the trade show with your core messaging in mind – from the voicemail script to the trade show visuals to the product demos. It should all be unified by the main theme of the messaging.
Two Months Before the Show:
• Create a targeted list for the trade show based on previous attendance and any other intel you have access to.
• Create an incentive – they work. It could be something as simple as a coffee mug with free refills or a product sample. A big favorite is a preloaded gift card. The incentive gift shows the prospect that you appreciate their time and effort in keeping the appointment with you.
• Think about additional opportunities in and around the trade show. For instance, you can take advantage of the evenings during the trade show to host a dinner for top prospects.
• Create a registration page. A platform like Eventbrite makes registration simple and easy for trade show attendees. You can send them a link via email or populate the appointment time while you’re on the phone and then send a confirmation link.
Six weeks Before the Show:
• Begin calling the list. Also, send targeted and coordinated emails. Opt for three to five attempts during this period for each prospect on your list.
One Week to Three Days Before the Show:
• Review the appointments and create a master list. Include details and notes about the prospects you will be meeting with – anything to help personalize each appointment.
The Day Before the Show:
• Send confirmation reminders by phone and/or email to all the prospects who made the appointments with you. Tell them about the thank you incentive waiting for them and that you look forward to meeting with them. Offer a map with your booth location to make it easy to find you.
The Week After the Show:
• Follow up with all the prospects you met with. The exact protocol for each prospect will depend on your interaction with them at the show.
• Follow up with all the prospects that didn’t keep the appointment and offer a phone call appointment instead.
It’s easy to get lost in a big room filled with alluring exhibits and just hoping to attract the right decision makers to your booth is not a sound method to guarantee a good return on investment. A well-executed pre-show appointment setting campaign has proven extremely effective in maximizing trade show ROI and will put you a step ahead of the competition.