If you’re a marketer in the B2B space, you’re probably planning on hosting a booth at a few trade shows in the upcoming year. If not, you should plan on adding one or two to your 2019 marketing strategy because chances are that they will lead to big opportunities. And the numbers are there if you don’t believe us, with stats claiming that 77% of decision makers discovered a new supplier while attending a trade show.
But while there are plenty of blog posts out there about the benefits of exhibiting at a trade show, today we’re focusing on tips to help you be successful. Our team has been on the road this past year and have gathered a few tips to share. We sat with our very own Marketing Programs Manager, Kristin Foster, who is in charge of driving our trade show strategy, to talk about lessons learned in 2018. Keep on reading to learn a few insights from her on what you should be doing to maximize your trade show marketing efforts in the new year.
Use Trade Shows As An Opportunity to Establish Yourself As A Thought Leader
While many years ago we saw speakers at trade shows leave the floor once their presentation was over, that trend is over. Nowadays you can expect your trade show exhibitors to also act as thought leaders within their industry. Kristin notes that you are more than likely to see the same faces on stage as you do while navigating the booths at the venue.
And that’s what seems to be bringing in the crowds and making trade shows successful. Part of the appeal of these events is you can learn from the speakers and then touch base with them at their booth. Therefore, when possible, try to snag one of those coveted speaking spots to give your people an opportunity to share their expertise, and reap the reward of capturing a larger audience.
Ditch the Hotel Swag
Did you know that 90% of trade show attendees have not had direct contact with the companies exhibiting a year before the event? That is why trade shows are the perfect opportunity for you to chat with your target customers in person. But you have to make sure they visit your booth to make that happen.
Kristin recommends that you stock up on swag that will entice your ideal customer to visit your booth, such as food items. “People at trade shows usually visit a venue without knowing what’s around and don’t have many opportunities to leave throughout the day. That is why having treats like soda, cupcakes, and popcorn at your booth is better than giving away swag like fidget spinners, which will probably get thrown away.”
But if you think that because people will eat your swag it’s useless, think again. Kristin points out that part of the appeal of food is it requires your target audience to visit your booth, allowing you to have face time with them so you can tell them all about what it is you do. And with 80 percent of trade show attendees deciding to purchase a product/service because they liked a presentation or the product itself at a trade show, taking advantage to meet your clients in person can lead to huge results!
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Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute. Prepare to Launch Your Trade Show Strategy 3-4 months Before Each Show.
While trade shows provide an opportunity for you to touch base with your customers in person, you’re never guaranteed an audience. “People don’t show up at trade shows at the last minute, so you want to start getting the word out about an event as soon as you book it,” says Kristin.
Launching your trade show strategy 3-4 months before the event is crucial if you want to make the most out of your trade show investment. But what should your strategy look like? Kristin notes that companies should focus their strategy on outreach. “I recommend being proactive and connecting with exhibitors before the event and setting up as many meetings beforehand as you can,” says Kristin. She also suggests that businesses take advantage of social media through automated campaigns that employ hashtags relevant to the event and audience, and by tuning into what others are saying so you can engage them in conversation and invite them to your booth.
Remember That Your Work is Not Over After the Show
Patience is key when it comes to following up after trade shows. Depending on your industry, the sales cycle can last weeks, even months. That is why maintaining an open line of communication with your new contacts is key to keeping them moving from one stage of the sales funnel to the next.
After the show, you should expect to have an 8-9 touch point system in place to help close the deal. This starts with a thank you email after the event and outreach from your sales team, whether it’s an email, phone call or demo. Kristin also recommends for you to enter your contacts into an automated email campaign related to the event and their particular interests. “We’ve generally found that the sweet spot for people to remember who you are after the event is two months, and that’s if you continue to reach out and engage them in conversation.”
We hope that you’ve gathered some useful tips to help you launch your trade show strategy in 2019. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do and chatting about trade shows with Kristin, make sure to catch us in person at one of these events in 2019.
Act-On 2019 Trade Show Schedule
2/11 -2/12 – Digital Summit Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ
3/26- 3/27 – The Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit Toronto – San Francisco, CA
4/10 – 4/11 – Digital Summit LA – Los Angeles, CA
5/5 – 5/8 – Sirius Decisions 2019 – Austin, TX
5/28 – 5/31 – MAC 2019 – New Orleans, LA
6/11 – 6/12 – Digital Summit PDX – Portland, OR
6/25 – 6/26 – Digital Summit Denver – Denver, CO
8/28 – 8/29 – Digital Summit Chicago – Chicago, IL
9/25 – 9/26 – Digital Summit Detroit – Detroit, MI
10/13 – 10/18 – CRMUG – Orlando, FL
11/13 -11/14 – Internet Summit – Raleigh, NC
12/3 -12/4 – Dallas Digital Summit – Dallas, TX