One of the worst things that can happen during a trade show is that your prospects don’t visit your booth to see first-hand what you have to offer. You can’t blame them. There are lots of things going on at trade shows and a prospect may not have even known you are there, or where you are in the room. It’s up to you to attract prospects to your booth.
This problem highlights the crucial importance of communicating with your prospects before the event. If there is no communication, people are left to find you by chance. And, chance isn’t an effective sales strategy.
Communication Prior to the Event
If you rely on chance trade show encounters, you’re not alone.
Many companies invest significant time and money into trade shows with minimal results due to lack of pre-event preparation. Some may purchase ads in trade magazines, but most don’t communicate directly with prospects before the event takes place. They just show up and hope for the best.
Ideally, before the event, you need to conduct due diligence, determine your organizational goals and define what will make this event a success. If success will be defined by the number of qualified new leads gathered at the show, then you must be sure that the event can deliver that number. Otherwise, you risk wasting your time, effort, and money.
Having established your goal as measurable and achievable, it’s time to determine a pre-event print communication strategy, including compelling messaging, strong imagery, and a solid call to action. For example, an organization selling medical equipment should present the benefits of the equipment, show an image of the equipment in action, and direct the prospect to the trade show booth location. A strong call to action, offering a creative incentive to visit the booth, such as a special discount or raffle ticket, can be especially effective. An interesting premium promotional item giveaway for all who stop by the booth is a great way to drive traffic into your booth and provide something of value.
Most shows will make a pre-show attendee list available for pre-event mailings and using this is an excellent way to reach those sought-after prospects.
Communication After the Event
Once the event is over, there is still marketing work to do in order to ensure that the qualified leads you gathered are nurtured into opportunities. Unfortunately, the reality is that 80% of companies fail to follow up with prospects after an event. Even the very best pre-event communication strategy is wasted without proper and timely follow up.
To be effective, the follow-up should be relevant to the recipient and their experience in your booth and have a clear call to action. It’s essential that the follow-up be sent as soon as feasible, while the event is still fresh in prospects’ minds. Studies show that half of companies who contact prospects with timely follow-up messages that are clear, concise, and personalized get the first opportunity to get an appointment and close a sale.
For post-show communications, the personalization enabled through digital print technology is key to achieving your conversion goals. Digital printing’s custom capabilities allow a communication to be sent in any form: letter, or postcard, or package – that speaks to exactly what your sales rep discussed with the prospect. For instance, if the prospect was interested in a specific machine model, the communication can reference their precise interest and perhaps provide additional information about that model. This level of personalization greatly increases the likelihood that the prospect will agree to set an appointment and ultimately decide to purchase.
For that very special, high-value prospect, follow-up mailings can also include a special gift tied to the theme from your event. Quality promotional gifts can help keep your organization top of mind with a prospect and help them remember the great experience from visiting your booth at the show.
ImageMark is Your Event Partner
We talk to many company representatives who tell us that they don’t feel as though they’re getting the best results from their trade show appearances. For many, these events are becoming a financial burden. And, every year, the marketing and sales departments have to work hard to justify the expense.
Because you’re likely to spend a lot of money to attend a trade show, you want to make sure that you get a good return on your investment. ImageMark is here to help you do just that by providing assistance with developing an effective communication strategy supported by printing, mailing execution and customized promotional items.
ImageMark has a full complement of direct mail capabilities which includes obtaining a list of prospects for your pre-event communications.. Not only can we make sure you start with clean data files, we are USPS Full-Service certified and can execute all necessary mailing requirements whether you are sending postcards, letters, catalogs, or packages.
When planning your next trade show appearance, be sure to contact us early in the process so that we can help you get the most out of the event.