Are you planning on exhibiting in a trade show any time soon? If so, as we’ve written in our last two posts, you’ll get a lot better results if you plan well, and also if you include yourself in the invitation/traffic building process.
Beyond all of that, you’ll also get better overall results if your plan includes an effective follow-up process, because while there are usually opportunities to make immediate sales at trade shows, the greater value usually comes after the show, following up on leads that were developed there.
One of the most common mistakes we see made in trade show planning is to not look beyond the show date itself. Lots of companies go to a show and get lots of leads, but never follow up effectively. Sometimes the sheer quantity of leads causes a sort of “what do we do with all of this” paralysis that results in a complete lack of follow-up.
Instead, go into the show with a plan in place for both short-term and long-term follow-up. A good plan might be to send an immediate thank you letter to everyone who visits your booth, and then to assign each prospect to a salesperson for some sort of measurable, longer-term follow up. The bottom line is this, you want to make sure that you’re getting results from any marketing investment, and that’s what a trade show represents to your business. Goals and performance against those goals can and should be measurable…and measured!
Many thousands of trade shows are held in the United States each year. They range from “monster” events like the Consumer Electronics Show which brought more than 150,000 attendees to Las Vegas earlier this year, to much smaller “tabletop” shows which might be sponsored by a local/regional trade association or even a Chamber of Commerce. Large or small, trade shows provide an interesting marketing opportunity by bringing buyers together with sellers in a structured environment. The buyers come to buy, or at least to learn. The sellers come to sell, or at least to plant seeds that might result in a sale. Sadly, though, many sellers are disappointed in the results they get from participating in trade shows.
Why is that? The problems seems to fall into three areas: poor planning, poor attendance, and poor follow-up. Of the three, poor attendance is the only one which is not directly attributable to the seller/exhibitor. In other words, if you’re not happy with the results you get from exhibiting at a trade show, it’s probably your own fault!
In our next few posts, we’ll talk about better planning and better follow-up. For today, here’s a thought on how a seller/exhibitor can promote better attendance. It’s pretty simple, really. Don’t leave it all up to the show promoters to bring people to the show. Do invite all of your own customers and prospects to attend. Direct mail and social media provide two prime avenues for this invitation process, and your website provides a third. In addition, is there any reason your salespeople can’t issue personal invitations by phone or e-mail or on sales calls?
The more effort you put into the invitation process, the more likely it is that you’ll be happy with your results!
Are you a risk-taker? If so, how much of a risk are you willing to take? As a marketer, you always have to consider how much risk your customers and potential customers will be willing to take, and you have to remember that buying something you’ve never bought before, especially from someone you’ve never done business with before, does involve some risk.
We wrote recently about the role a guarantee can play in minimizing risk. The subject today is the role testimonials can play. The words of a satisfied customer can go a long way toward convincing others that they will also be satisfied!
The first issue is collecting testimonials, and it’s really a simple process. Follow up with your customers, after the sale, to make sure that they’re satisfied. And if they are, write down their comments and ask them if you can use them in your marketing. Then, find ways to get those testimonials in front of other potential customers. Direct mail is a great medium for doing that. So is e-mail marketing. So is posting the comments on your website or Facebook page.
Think of it this way, who are you more likely to believe, a salesperson making promises or someone who decided independently to believe those promises and now is willing to tell you how it all worked out?