Are you ready to jump back into in-person trade shows?
Trade shows have historically been a crucial tool for manufacturers to showcase their goods, talk shop, and foster new business leads with an engaged audience. So it’s not surprising that ninety-three percent of advanced manufacturing professionals are likely to return to in-person events, including trade shows. If you're one of many hitting the trade show circuit this fall, here are four tactics to help you make the most of your experience and deliver a favorable ROI.
1. Don’t ignore the pre-show efforts
Trade shows are expensive. The last thing you’ll want to do is spend the significant resources on a trade show presence, but neglect the pre-show work to make the most of the opportunity. Take an active role in promoting your attendance at the trade show. Connect with prospects and current clients to let the know you’ll be there. Use this in-person event as an avenue to set up conversations. This can be done in a number of ways:
Write a blog that includes relevant content to attendees about the trade show.
Create engaging social media posts promoting the trade show and your participation. Post who from your company will be attending, and what you will be showcasing. Interact with other attendees by tagging them in your posts or responding to theirs.
Create an engaging email workflow that shares relevant information about the trade show in a timely manner.
2. Go into the trade show with a plan
As the French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, said: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If your goal is to net results from a trade show – whether that be new clients, partnership, or employees – you better have a plan to get there. Here are a few things to consider:
Make sure your marketing and sales teams are perfectly aligned on the desired outcome of the event.
Give attendees a compelling reason to visit your trade show booth. Do you have a new product launching? Or a promotional offer for trade show attendees? Let them know about it by creating a custom landing page that can be engaged with before, during, and after the trade show.
Are there certain prospects you want to meet with? Invite them to sign up for a time to meet you at your booth. Include a meeting link right on your landing page.
If you’re not nurturing the connections you made at a trade show, you’re wasting a massive opportunity. Even if attendees you connected with aren’t perfectly aligned with what you’re offering – product, service, employment, etc. – that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually need you. Deliberately nurturing this newly acquired contact list can offer both short- and long-term wins. Here are a few ideas:
Create personalized email workflows with strong and specific calls-to-action.
Follow up with the contacts you make at the event via phone, video, or in-person meetings. Make it personal and include a specific call-to-action. These prospects have already expressed interest in you by stopping by your booth. Be direct in your request for action.
If contacts aren’t engaging in “bottom-of-funnel” actions (like: get in touch, order product, apply today), consider backpedaling the approach and providing more high-level, helpful content. They might not be ready to engage today, but stay in their brain space by providing value so that when they are ready to move forward, they think of you.
Write a post trade show blog that your prospects will find value in. What were some of the main themes throughout the event? What were some of the innovative changes, trends, or industry updates that prospects should know about?
4. Define success and measure it
This is good for you, for company leadership, and for any stakeholders in the trade show event. Identifying the desired outcome and measuring data to show results is a powerful way to keep your team focused on what truly matters. It also will help you filter future opportunities. If a trade show didn’t net you the desired results, does that mean you need to make a change to how you approach that event? Or perhaps skip that event in the future? Be sure to consider the following:
What metrics best define success for you? Is it foot traffic? Contacts? Appointments? Applications? Orders?
How will you measure the metric? Percentage of attendees that come to your booth? Number of visits you get to a landing page post-event? Number of engagements with prospects during and after the trade show?
Who needs to know? How can you disseminate the information in a way that gets everyone on the same page for this and future trade show events?
Intention begets success.
After 2020 and the beginning of 2021, I think it’s safe to say that collectively we will not take in-person events for granted. While virtual events and engagements have forever changed the way most of us do business, nothing will truly replace an in-person event. If you're planning to be at a trade show this year, take advantage of it! A little planning and effort go a long way in turning those prospects stopping at your booth into customers, partners, or employees. Everything begins [and ends] with marketing, even for industrial manufacturers.
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