Industry tradeshows and conferences are a valuable and effective way for building product marketers to stay on top of what’s new, learn what your competitors are doing and network with peers and potential prospects.
Done right, your tradeshow presence can be a quick path to increased business. Done wrong, it can be a quick way to blow a chunk of your marketing budget. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Make sure you know what you are doing and that you have a plan in place before you head to the show. If you want to beef up your tradeshow marketing efforts, then read on for some of my advice, which has been divided into two articles, part 1 and part 2. Part 1 provides recommendations on what you can do prior to the show and Part 2 recommends activities to focus on during and after the show.
Select the right show. Before you decide at which building product shows you will exhibit, determine why you want to exhibit and who your target audience and potential prospects are. You will want to find shows that have a high proportion of your potential prospects attending.
Set clear goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Acquire the most leads you can get or is it more of a branding event? Be clear as to what you want to achieve at the show or conference and plan for it.
Get social. Social media should be one of your primary communication platforms. If you aren’t comfortable with channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, then it’s time to get comfortable with them. Communication with your building product prospects begins with social media. Let’s take Twitter, for example, It’s a great way to conduct pre-show research. If you aren’t already following your prospects, start following them. Re-tweeting their blog posts and press releases is a great way to get noticed and make connections before the event even begins. Another excellent way to generate pre-conference awareness and buzz is to start promoting your presence at the show via your social media channels. Find out what hashtag the show is using and start tweeting it.
Choose the right staff and train them. 85% of the positive feelings visitors have are due to the staff you have in your booth. They are responsible for drawing in your customers, engaging them and creating leads.
Give your booth staff greater confidence by training them to follow a 4-step process:
1. Stop and engage. Start by stopping attendees and engaging them for 30 seconds by asking them open-ended questions.
2. Prequalify the lead. By questioning attendees, you will determine who is worth presenting to.
3. Tailor your demo. Focus your presentation or demo on just the prospect’s needs. Be prepared to respond to objections and answer questions.
4. Close and move on. Be sure to get the lead’s business card or contact information so you can follow up, then move on to the next lead.
The time it takes from engagement to closing should be less than 10 minutes. Ideally, your staff should practice by being timed.
For the rest of my recommendations, read part 2
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Blight via flickr