If you want more from your trade shows and marketing events, promote in advance and – even better, give potential visitors a reason to make your booth a planned and positively anticipated stop on the show floor. Standing in your booth with a fake smile and trying to engage people spontaneously as they wander down the aisle looking for the coolest doo-dad giveaway, is a waste of your time and the investment you’ve made in the show.
Although very few show organizers will share the registration list with exhibitors, maybe that would change if enough companies were to ask for the list and demonstrate to the organizers that their advance list is a revenue stream they’re missing out on. Aside from that, failing to communicate in advance of the show to a list of companies and potential prospects for whom there is a reasonable expectation of attendance is a wasted opportunity on several levels.
Among the real attendees:
- You’re missing out on an opportunity to raise the profile of your company against an anonymous herd of competitors.
- You’re throwing away the perfect chance to actually meet someone who might just be an email contact right now.
- You’re giving your competitors the first shot
- You’re replacing a planned visit with “chance” and wasting at least part of the considerable investment you’ve made in the show.
Among the non-attendees, you’ve missed a chance to align your company with a major industry event, demonstrating that you are a real player in the market. You could have built some basic awareness by linking your company to an event that other people are paying to promote. Your event promotions might have actually enticed a fence-sitter to attend the show and also, since you’re in town anyway, what about booking meetings with prospects not in attendance?
Companies actively looking to buy will use a show to check out competitive offerings so its easy to identify your high priority contacts, but what can you do to grab their attention?
Many companies want to schedule tradeshow meetings, often at their booth and sometimes in a hotel or other facility. Meetings are great, but what compelling reason can you provide to really motivate someone to want to schedule time to listen to a sales pitch? (That’s what they expect) Honestly, seeing a demo of your new product, might not be enough to light their world on fire so you had better come up with something interesting and relevant. At the very least, I suggest schedule meetings to accommodate any conference events, (like right after the keynotes etc.) and offering a decent bite to eat along with a chance to get off their feet will help your cause.
These meetings are about the highest value activity you can have at a trade show so it’s worth the time and effort to build much of your event marketing around them. Don’t expect emails or a single phone call to do this job. Use your sales or customer service managers to phone out personal invitations and don’t hesitate to leave voicemail messages to mix up your written communications with an enthusiastic voice. This is an excellent way to direct your cold calling and you can use guided voicemail since it will take a lot of calls to get the meetings booked. But every call you make is also building your pre-show promotion so there are side benefits as well.
Trade shows and events are one of the few chances you have to get your Senior Sales, Marketing and Customer Service Execs in front of prospective and current customers- use them.