Our market is one of the top convention locations in the world with more meeting space than I can believe. Companies spend significant amount of money at conventions and trade shows with good reason, generally, the people attending are good, qualified prospects. We do a lot of work for both our customers in Orlando and Central Florida that go elsewhere for conventions and we also are contacted regularly by customers coming into the area for conventions that want to have their materials produced locally and have them waiting at their hotel when they arrive. We’ve seen a lot of examples of the good, the bad and the ugly. Following are some of the best convention strategies for making sure those convention dollars are spent wisely!:
1. Pre-Convention Marketing: Often you can get the list of attendees before the convention. You can use this information to send a pre-convention mailer that might make them aware of a give-away or drawing that they can register for when they come by your booth. You can identify show specials and what products you will be demonstrating. You might even call and set up demo appointments to do during the show for top prospects.
2. Relevant Messaging: I’ve seen companies that just “show-up” at a trade show with poor visuals and no apparent goal or purpose to their presence there. You need to make sure someone walking by can figure out what your selling and what your purpose there is. Focus on the problems you solve…the pain you help them overcome. If they glance at your booth, and the first thing that registers is a solution you provide that they need, they will walk up to learn more! You don’t need to necessarily spend a fortune on your displays, but the message should be clear and the appearance should be consistent (don’t use three pop up displays that all look drastically different).
3. Be Prepared to Sell: It’s amazing, but I’ve been to shows where the people in the booth were not prepared to make a sale! The most extreme example was HP! We had interest in one of their large format printers and planned on taking a look at the show and then purchasing as long as we liked it. We did the demo and liked the machine and said “we’ll take one!” They didn’t have anyone there to make the sale! They told me they would have someone follow up with me after the show…they didn’t, I had to call 3 times to get someone to sell me the machine…it’s a good thing for HP they had a good product that was sold on, or I most likely would have quickly gone to a competitor.
4. Prospect Level: Let’s be honest, some attendees are just walking around to get “free stuff”. It’s a good idea to have a two tier strategy for the giveaways. We encourage our customers to have the “cheap” giveaway like pens, letter openers, etc. on the table, but if they start up a good discussion with someone likely to buy, reach under the table and pull out a nice mug, pad-folio, calculator…etc. THOSE are the prospects that you really want to remember you, and get their card!
5. Post Trade Show / Convention Follow-Up: Don’t just sit there and wait for the phone to ring, be proactive in your sales efforts. Call and follow up on the strong leads to andwer questions and move them towards a purchase. Send a thank you note and offer to the less significant prospects to see if you can motivate them to move. Finally, if you’ve collected your data well, you can identify those attendees that did NOT visit your booth and you can send them a “Sorry We Missed You” with a post-convention offer.
We do a good amount of trade show work for both our local customers, and companies that are coming to the area, successful trade show and convention marketing is a lot more than just putting up some displays and handing out brochures. It’s having a plan and objective for each trade-show. Oh, and here’s tip number 6…
6. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute!: Procrastinators pay more to rush jobs and also generally fail to have an effective plan in place for success. Call us to see how we can help you brainstorm, plan and execute your strategy!