Trade shows and exhibitions are a lucrative environment, for the exhibitors, the organisers, and indeed the attendees. They provide the perfect opportunity to reach key decision makers, grab a moment of their precious time and assess on the spot how qualified they might be as a lead. But how fruitful are these meetings in reality? There are several steps you must take prior to, during, and after the exhibition to guarantee maximum value from such events. Here’s my guide on how to make the most of your expo opportunities:
Promote your presence beforehand
There’s no point simply showing up on the day; in order to draw in relevant, high quality leads you must ensure that people know where to find you. Social media is where you’ll likely have the greatest reach and therefore more opportunities to engage. Use the exhibition hashtag early on, blog about your upcoming appearance, and Tweet about where and when your prospects can find you.
Schedule meetings before your prospects turn up
Once you’ve started on your social strategy, you need to secure prospective clients’ interest. Reach out to attendees and set up meetings if you feel that your organisation is of particular relevance to them. Here it really pays to do your research before you make contact; find out a bit about their role, company, and industry and you’ll be well equipped to get them to at least meet with you. For the meeting itself, have in mind key discussion points and come up with a tailored agenda of sorts.
Consider the size of the event
If you’re part of an exhibition on a very broad theme, the prospects you encounter may not always be right for you. The more niche the event, the greater relevance to attendees. However, this does mean there are likely to be far fewer attendees generally. Either way, there are great leads to be identified, you just need to be aware of the kind of B2B trade shows you’re partaking in and adjust your approach accordingly. If it’s a huge event with several different demographics attending, you’ll fare better if you schedule meetings beforehand, and you’ll have to work harder to identify possible customers. If the trade show is more industry specific you won’t have to segment attendees to such an extent, but will be expected to know your industry in great detail.
Make sure you have a motivated sales team in place
Your sales guys are going to be key to the success of this endeavour. They need to know your product or service inside out, live and breathe your brand, and embody the inbound approach. Nobody responds well to the hard sell anymore, and if you really want to attract the best leads for your business you’ll take a softer approach, and do a lot more listening than you do pitching. Ensure the sales team know what kind of questions to ask, and who your buyer personas are. Following this they must also be able to capture leads effectively, noting what shape the discussion took, how great their interest or need was and any key details that might help with follow up conversations.
Nurture leads soon after the event
Strike while the iron is hot and get a follow up email or phone call out to your leads soon after you meet. The most important thing about these communications is personalisation, so there is really no point applying a one-size-fits-all strategy. The exchange you have should be a natural continuation of the conversation you had at the trade show, so be sure to reference specific challenges the lead reported facing, or questions they asked in regard to the service you offer. Essentially you want to make your prospects feel important, and valued. Begin a conversation with “I remembered what you said about X, and looked further into how you might be able to tackle that issue”, or “I found your point about Y really interesting, and have since found out that…”: by demonstrating that you actually listened to what your prospects had to say, and have done your homework since, you’ll set yourself apart from the majority of exhibitors who will probably follow up with a generic, sales-oriented and pushy call.
The ultimate lead generation opportunity, if done right…
How often do you get the chance to make contact with numerous relevant, engaged, and interested prospects all in the same day? Not very I imagine, so don’t waste this golden opportunity! You need to put the effort in before, during and after the event – and if you take only one thing away from this post, let it be the importance of personalisation. Before the event, personalise your social messaging to the kinds of people you’d like to meet at the trade show, go further with the interactions you have on the day (both scheduled and organic), and play your winning hand with the hyper-personalised follow up conversation. You can’t fail to win leads this way, and indeed, win customers.
Image Credit: kmf164