Tradeshows are a gold mine of prospects for a business. That’s why event organizers know they can charge an arm and a leg for booth and sponsorship space, and why companies spend thousands on displays, promotional items and collateral. It’s all about connecting with people at the show who are qualified buyers of your products and services. But once you go home, all of those connections are usually nothing more than a Ziploc bag full of business cards, or if you are lucky, a spreadsheet from the event organizer.
Often this baggie or spreadsheet goes untouched – effectively nuking any chance of achieving a return on the investment at the event. If a diligent sales team is assigned to the task, they may follow up with each prospect scheduling conference calls or meetings or sharing show specials and asking for orders. This tedious process costs thousands more in labor costs as the contacts are slowly pressed into the sales funnel.
There is a far easier way to turn trade show prospects into customers though…it just takes a little ingenuity and your prospects’ own cell phone.
There are many ways to capture contact information easily on site at a tradeshow and automate a series of follow up messages to build trust with your prospects and encourage them to buy. First, you should set up an incentive to have people enter their information. Usually, the information is given for a chance to win a prize package tightly linked to your products and services. The linkage is key because you want qualified buyers who are interested in what you have to offer.
Then you can set up one or more methods of data collection
1) Kiosk/Computer/Tablet – Have the prospect enter their name, email and mobile number to enter
2) Text data collection – Have the prospect text a keyword to a short code and then reply with their name and email to complete their entry
3) QR Code data collection – Have the prospect scan a QR code that opens a short form on their phone for collecting email and phone number.
4) Website data collection – You can always have an opt-in form on your website for ongoing data collection
5) Event organizer promotion – often, an event organizer or partner will have a multi-booth promotion which will produce a list of participating attendees for you. This list can be imported into your cross-channel marketing system for follow up.
Next, you should have a communications calendar programmed into your contact management system that will send a series of follow up communications in different channels. Many companies send email, but text and voicemail can capture an even stronger response. When these techniques are combined, you have a powerful way of surrounding your prospect with your message.
Your messages should cover:
1) Immediately: Text message – Thanks for connecting with us at the trade show – check your email for special information
2) 1-2 days – Email – Compelling product information or other trust building content, invite them to connect on social media
3) 3-7 days: Voicemail and email – A show special that has an urgent deadline or limited quantity
4) Every 4-6 weeks: Voicemail, text or email – trust building info or sales to drive traffic back to your website or drive calls to your representatives.
5) Ongoing – Social media posts
Using a cross channel marketing platform to schedule these messages can save you countless hours of follow up and will drive the serious leads to respond more quickly. Not only that, you’ll be staying in touch throughout the year and will be able to ask for sales any time. Next year, you’ll be able to ask who wants to meet at the tradeshow where bigger deals can be sealed.
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