Marketers today are looking for every way possible to squeeze the most value from their promotional budgets. With the trade show and conference season now revving into full gear, we provide tips for using both email and social networking to help maximize your return on investment (ROI) from trade shows. Note that while email is fantastic for developing a relationship after you have the permission, a trade show is a wonderful tool to acquire the names. Doing things right before and after a show will help you build an even higher quality, more powerful list.
Before the Trade Show
- Send out an email to your subscribers to let them know you’ll be attending the trade show. Be sure to talk up giveaways and any new products you’ll be featuring. Plus, include a schedule of events, such as book signings or demonstrations at your booth, as well as hospitality suites your organization is hosting.
- Get the word out to your social network followers and friends about the trade shows you’ll be attending. Facebook postings, Twitter tweets, and blogs are a few great ways to do just that. You can also search for a specific trade show or conference in the events section in LinkedIn to see which individuals in your network will be attending. Then, you can contact them and set up plans to connect at the show.
- Publish your trade show schedule in your email newsletters. Let your subscribers know in advance which trade shows and conferences you’ll be attending, exhibiting, and/or speaking at by having a regular section for this information in your email newsletters.
During the Trade Show
- Choose your trade show giveaways and prizes carefully. You want to be sure that the leads you collect at trade shows are high quality. A drawing for a 52-inch flat-screen television may generate a lot of entries, but are they all really good business prospects? Instead, consider giving away items more relevant to your business, such as a whitepaper, a discount coupon for your company’s product/service, or a trip to an upcoming industry conference.
- Devise a system to prioritize your leads. Which people seemed really interested in your company’s products or services? As you collect business cards of people you meet both on the trade show floor and in social situations, separate the “hot” prospects from the “possibly interested.” When you get a moment, write a note on their business cards to help you remember who they are and where you met them. Then you can be sure to follow up with the hottest prospects first.
- Collect relevant information from trade show contacts. In addition to getting business cards and/or contact information, try to capture other relevant data from booth visitors, too. If a company sells pet food, for example, finding out whether a prospect owns horses or goats will help the company segment future marketing to make the next step in the sales cycle more relevant. Or, if a company is an ice-cream distributor, determining a person’s favorite flavor and using that information in the follow-up communication can help add a personal touch.
- Use social networks to keep your contacts informed about what’s happening in “real time” at the trade show. For example, report on the number of booth visitors, outstanding speakers/presentations, and industry news. This will help broaden your reach to customers and prospects who can’t attend the show. If you can attend any of the meetings or presentations, report summaries of sessions in your blog in real time (unless it’s not allowed by the conference organizer). Most people don’t get to attend conferences, so hearing the salient points from you is just another way to give something of value and relevance to your prospects and customers.
Following Up on Your Trade Show Leads
- Follow up promptly with trade show leads via a phone call or personal email. By reaching out within a few days to new prospects after a trade show, not only will you and your organization still be fresh in their minds, but you’ll also be demonstrating that your company is responsive. Keep in mind, however, that people haven’t given you permission to add them to your email list by simply giving you a business card or entering a drawing at your booth. So take the opportunity to ask them to opt in during your post-trade show follow-up call or personal email.
- Use automated drip campaigns to follow up with trade show leads that have opted in to your list. An effective drip campaign is an automated process that provides valuable information to meet prospects’ need and interests and bring them down the sales funnel. Click here for more information about how to effectively use email drip campaigns.
- Track your leads to help calculate your ROI for each trade show you attend. This will help you compare trade shows and determine which ones are the best investments as you plan your schedule for the following year.
Looking for the best ways to use email to maximize your marketing dollars? The experts at FulcrumTech can help. Email or give us a call today at 215-489-9336.