November 26, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 By Michael Hart
Understand your market, analyze it constantly and then act on what you’ve learned. That seemed the lesson to be shared at Expo’s Tradeshow Marketing Bootcamp Wednesday, a day before the opening of the Tradeshow 365 Marketing Summit.
“Don’t just send out a million e-mails and hope to get three registrations,” said Access Intelligence Aerospace Events Show Director Lindsey Fuller at the beginning of the daylong pre-conference session on attendance marketing.
Instead, use the information you have available to you to decide on the best possible marketing plan, then monitor and tweak it as you get closer to your event.
Here are some of the takeaways from the boot camp Fuller and Access Intelligence Vice President of Events Jenn Heinold led at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Wednesday:
• When you deliver messages to your potential audience, make them meaningful. “Don’t get caught up in the hype,” Fuller said, “don’t get caught up in the buzz.”
• Do everything you can to understand your market: Read all the pertinent industry publications, join online communities, attend competing events, ask questions, talk to exhibitors and survey past attendees.
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• Take the time to build a marketing plan. Create an action calendar that begins almost as soon as the last show ends with a checklist of things that have to be done, deadlines attached to each one and a project manager for each task.
• Put everything you want and hope for into the plan, then scale it back in line with the budget and resources you know you will have available. “Anybody can be a good marketer when they have a lot of money,” Heinold said. “The trick is to be good when you don’t have an unlimited budget.”
• After you have a plan, reassess it constantly throughout implementation: Know which e-mails are being read, watch tracking codes and notice when people abandon the online registration system.
• Frequently (maybe every week) apply the “gut check”: Take a step back and see how you’re performing against where you want to be. “If your numbers aren’t there,” Fuller said, “you’ve got to start putting new things in.”
• Analyze last year’s registration reports and see what they tell you about what you should do this year.
• Build your registration system by “channeling your inner consumer marketer”: Put the highest-priced packages at the front and the add-ons at the end.
November 21, 2013
By Rob Murphy, Published November 13, 2013
Trade shows are a valuable sales and marketing vehicle. They help generate business through qualified leads, build brand awareness and cultivate relationships. To reap the full benefits and to help justify your continued investment in trade show programs, it’s critical to take the time to evaluate your marketing program holistically. By implementing a focused methodology companies can achieve greater results and a better ROI.
Here are the top five reasons you need to exhibit now:
1. Efficient Use of Time
Trade shows are one of the most efficient methods of marketing. It is an opportunity to connect with a lot of customers and prospects in a short amount of time – in one location. And, with cost savings benefits. According to data from the Center for Exhibit Industry Research, it costs 62 percent less to close a lead generated from a trade show than one originated in the field.
After all, trade shows are about people connecting with people, brands, information and business solutions—under one roof. This focus translates into efficiency of time and effort, and therefore, dollars.
An important aspect to remember is to be sure your team engages – and disengages – with the right prospects.
2. More Focused and Isolated Leads
With the ebb and flow of business, budgets may tighten, but the need for new products and services does not necessarily stop. People attending trade shows are serious about doing business. According to a recent study from the Center for Exhibit Industry Research (CEIR), 63 percent of show attendees assign high importance to face-to-face interactions at exhibits in helping with the ‘narrowing of choices’ in the buying process. By not being present at an industry trade show, a company risks missed business opportunities.
Keep in mind, that there are trade shows that are very targeted and specific so you know exactly who will be at the show and on the floor. Think in terms of the quality not quantity of the trade shows in your program.
3. Bold and Unique Advertising Channel with Minimal Risk
A different course to take is to exhibit at a vertical trade show, which allows your brand to connect with a specific audience with- out the distraction of your competitors. Qualify the investment by collecting with the number of leads collected at the show, this can be a good investment.
For example, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the premier show for launching and showcasing what’s new in televisions, hand-held devices and other personal electronics items. This year at the 2014 CES, a major tobacco company, counseled by their exhibit house, will be going to the show to promote their e-cigarette. By thinking out of the box, this tobacco brand can reach a wider audience without the distraction of its competitors.
4. Greater Risk in Being Absent
Consider the long-term effect of not exhibiting at trade shows. Being absent from key shows instantly makes you a non-player in the field and puts your competitors top of mind with customers.
However, simply showing up is not enough. You have to plan how you will attract new leads at the show and how you will follow up with them for effective results.
Look at the whole picture: Make sure your advertising, online marketing, media relations, and public relations are aligned with your overall marketing strategy
Build quality traffic: Consider a variety of new and traditional communication channels such as social media, video, and email, direct mail or print.
Follow-up: Develop a system to organize leads at the show so your team can make immediate contact with your “hottest” leads.
5. Effective Use of Marketing Dollars
Few marketing activities show a clear ROI. Trade show impressions, contacts, leads and sales are measurable results that have an actual value. Overall costs are easily computed.
When reporting results to upper management and boards of directors, ROI is not a luxury—it is essential. Very few companies measure their trade show participation. With measurement motives in place you can fine tune your program—which is a lot easier to do in advance of the show—for better return on your marketing spend. Here are some things you can do for better results:
• Quantify and Qualify: Before you reduce the number of trade shows from your budget, quantify and qualify your investment. Why are we cutting our trade show schedule? Why are we not benefiting from our trade show participation? What are we not doing right?
• Have a Follow-Up Process: Establish a process for following up with sales leads to get the most out of your trade show experience. Are you using all the necessary tools to measure and weigh results properly? Are you gathering and analyzing the right information?
• Get Staff on the Same Page: Engage staff and clearly communicate your company’s strategy to ensure everyone is working toward the same goal. Do you mandate staff training in order to run a well-choreographed, efficient show?
• Don’t Underestimate Your Exhibit’s Design: Consider the architecture of your exhibit to enhance each visitors experience with your company and its brand. Are you using or incorporating rental property in your exhibit? Is your booth design consistent with your branding and messaging platforms?
Face-to-face marketing is a proven effective business strategy for building brand awareness, making business connections, and ultimately, driving sales. Simply put, participating in trade shows makes good business sense. Don’t just show up at your next show. Remember attendees are at trade shows for a reason. Help attendees (your potential customers) get what they came for (a business solution), by taking the time upfront to plan your course of action.
November 14, 2013
By Rob Murphy, Published September 5, 2013
Even in a digital world, face-to-face interaction provides real business benefits. It helps create personal connections, build trust, and foster engagement. Trade shows are one of the most recognized—and successful—examples of face-to-face interaction because they allow for a brand to connect with a high number of customers and prospects at once. Successful, that is, if you’re meeting with qualified prospects/leads.
So how do you ensure you’re spending time with the right people and disengaging with the wrong ones? Here are a few tips you can use to develop and implement a thorough qualifying process for all booth visitors.
1. Who’s your customer?
Every trade show attracts a spectrum of attendees, but not every single one of them is a target for your business. Recognizing that and understanding the attributes of your ideal customer are critical to ensuring that you channel your valuable time and marketing dollars toward prospects who are likely to result in real business. Narrow down your prospects in three easy steps:
• Build a profile of your ideal customer several months before the show.
• Ask show management for access to lists of registered attendees (that typically provide a breakdown of business category, job title, and purchasing authority).
• Merge the information with your company’s internal sales database to create a master list that will serve as the foundation for all of your pre-show and post-show marketing efforts.
2. Create a buzz.
Now that you’ve identified your top prospects, you need to get them interested in who you are and what you can do to help their businesses. That can be a challenge, since there may be hundreds of other exhibitors vying for their attention during a very short time frame.
To create a buzz and attract prospects to your booth, you have to understand the attendees’ motivation for attending the show. To do this, tap into your sales team for insight into key business issues that your prospects may be facing. Then, combine that knowledge with general challenges confronting the industry you serve.
Create messaging that clearly demonstrates how your company can help them resolve their problems and use multiple communications channels to get the word out. Attendees will give their time in return for something of value—communicating that value is the key to a successful program.
3. Engage with prospects the right way…
Effectively engaging key prospects and customers onsite is another critical step in maximizing event return on investment (ROI). Prepare your staff for the big show with booth engagement training.
• Identify who from your company will be the best representatives for your brand—put them front and center in your booth.
• Offer incentives to maximize staff performance and task them for a specific level of interaction. Practice “prospect hand-offs” so visitors experience a logical and comfortable series of encounters on their quest for information.
• Review responses to anticipated questions about your product or service. Be aware of the weaknesses of competitive offerings to guide conversations in a positive direction.
• Wrap up conversations with booth visitors by thanking them for their time and giving them a small token that will help them remember your company.
• Move on to the next prospect.
4. …and disengage with the wrong prospects – quickly
However, don’t spend time with the tire-kickers. Make sure to train your staff to quickly identify qualified decision-makers with the help of a script; there is no time for casual conversations that don’t lead to some form of business transaction. Of course, if you are looking to build a personal connection with a good prospect, make the time investment.
Your script should also include tips on how to politely disengage with unqualified visitors as quickly as possible. Thank them for stopping by and give them a card to follow up after the show with any questions. If you calculate the cost of every minute you spend at a show, that simple rule of thumb will surely resonate. You need your staff free and able to interact with real prospects with real interest and real decision-making power.
5. Develop a process for data capture
Every name you collect at a trade show can be valuable. Developing an effective process to capture data is essential to qualifying leads for a successful follow-up. While several companies simply swipe the attendees’ badge to collect information, you can capture this data in a more engaging way. For example, you can make the process fun with giveaway drawings or make it educational with an interactive game. Just make sure to collect the vitals—name, position, and contact information—as soon as visitors begin their experience at your booth.
Engagement shouldn’t end when the show does. Always follow-up – especially with your most qualified leads. You can keep it simple, but it must effectively respond to the needs the prospects expressed at the show. Showing prospects that you really listened to their challenges and want to help them find a solution will increase your chances of getting that second meeting and, ultimately, close converting prospects into customers.
Trade shows remain one of the most effective ways to market your brand. But it’s essential to understand who your key targets are—and aren’t. Implementing a well-thought-out engagement strategy will ensure that your sales team maximizes the time they have on the show floor and the overall event ROI.
November 7, 2013
By Rob Murphy, Published November 1, 2013
When done correctly, trade shows are undoubtedly one of the most productive, cost-effective ways to reach qualified prospects and generate sales. In fact, 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority. Which means more than 4 out of 5 people walking the aisles are potential customers for exhibitors. (Source: CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget)
As such, it seems to be the practice and desire of most companies to attract large crowds and make the best impression they can at trade shows. They take steps to make as big a splash as they think they can afford. They may build a new exhibit, hire booth entertainment, launch a new product or campaign—and, frequently, walk away from a show elated because of the high number of visitors who filed through their space.
Though impressive, are encounters with many attendees truly helping to grow business? But when the lights go down on the show floor, ask yourself, do you really know where you stand? To know where you stand after a show, follow this 4-step plan:
1. Know what information to collect
2. Collect the information
3. Analyze and act on the information
4. Learn from the results
Do you know where your business stands after a trade show?
Step 1: Know what information to collect
You need to collect information about your visitors—the right information—to properly measure your success. Many companies swipe attendee badges, collecting a long list of names they then consider to be leads. But, experience suggests that these names alone are far from being qualified prospects. Not because they don’t have potential to bring in sales, but, because show-provided lead systems give only the most basic contact information—name, company, job title, address, phone number, fax number and email address.
Put your lead system through a filter by identifying information that will be of value in the follow-up process. For the best results, go directly to your sales managers and your marketing team to better understand what they need to qualify the opportunity. They might suggest qualifiers like these:
• Familiarity with your company and its products or services
• Current supplier or current competitor products, their decision process, and company decision-makers
• Budget for purchase sales cycle and timeframe for purchase
• Next action step
You can make your lead retrieval as robust as you’d like. The important thing is that you invest the time to focus on information that will be important to converting leads into sales. Gathering specific, qualitative data on the prospects who visit your booth will provide invaluable insight into your post-show analysis and future show strategies.
Step 2: Collect the Information
Once you know what information you need to collect from prospects, you need to establish how you will accurately and efficiently collect the data. Missing this crucial step can make or break your analysis. So get what you need, and get it right. Here’s how:
1. Set specific goals, and communicate expectations to show staff. Beyond providing an avenue for potential sales, these goals also serve as benchmarks for evaluating and measuring individual and team performance. One way you can help your team achieve their goals is to provide a script with a list of essential questions they need to ask each qualified prospect they meet with.
2. Make everyone accountable for collecting information. To keep your team on task, assign a captain who is responsible for monitoring the number and quality of leads at the end of each day of the show. Get your team motivated by creating a competition among the staff.
3. Swipe the attendees’ badges. In some cases, it’s appropriate for the staff to input the data for the visitor during the conversation so vital elements are not missed and sales cues can be added. Another way to quickly and accurately collect prospect data is through a buyer’s survey, which can be used as a prerequisite to entering an hourly/daily drawing, show contest, or post-show experience.
4. Take good notes. Request your team to take detailed notes on their personal interactions with prospects. They should include observations and insights obtained during the conversation, responses to qualifying questions and the next step identified and agreed upon by the prospect. Recording data on lead interactions will allow you to provide qualitative and quantitative analysis of the show.
5. Make it fun! Visitors at shows are looking to enjoy themselves. You don’t need to hire professional entertainers for people to have fun, but don’t overlook ideas for creating excitement at your booth. Have you ever noticed how miserable some booth workers seem? Who wants to talk to them? Fun is contagious. If your staff looks like they’re having fun, chances are you’ll draw more people to your booth.
Step 3: Analyze and Act On the Data
The most common – and single worst – mistake companies make when returning from an event is not following up with leads immediately—or at all. Though time is of the essence, don’t confuse speed with accuracy.
You may need time to process the data you’ve collected on your leads, but you can send a simple, yet effective, customized email to thank attendees for visiting your booth and let them know when they can expect to hear from you again. Sending a follow-up email also helps sort the good contacts from the bad, because leads can opt out from further correspondence if it is the wrong fit.
For some marketers, the data collected from prospects is straightforward. However, when approaching a complex sale of products or services, a more difficult analysis is typically required to fully understand a prospect’s position. Regardless, determine whether you are using all the necessary tools to measure and weigh results properly.
After analyzing the data, quickly route qualified leads to the right people. An easy way to do so is to develop a system for rating leads. For example, if investment in “cost of sales” is a consideration in your program’s success metrics, prospects need to be rated by the following:
• Interest level in your offering
• Buying cycle or urgency
• Unique, customized requirements
• Potential budget
• Current suppliers
To make the sales team accountable for following up, create a lead-reporting system. Ask for lead progress and sales conversion at specific time frames, such as 30, 60, and 90 days after the show. Keeping track of your leads will allow you to measure sales directly attributable to your trade show program and individual salespeople, helping demonstrate to management the important role trade shows have on the bottom line.
Step 4: Learn from the Results
There are many reasons for analyzing and measuring trade show results, but the most important is to determine how your show program affects the bottom line. Management wants to know whether its money was well spent—i.e., the number of sales generated directly from the show.
An ROI analysis can give you insight on the most productive elements of your trade show campaign and help you optimize future efforts. Connect the dots to identify trends across products, industries—even specific trade events. You may find better sales returns from specific shows, regions, or purchasing demographics. Things that work great domestically may fail internationally. Programs that flew in June crashed in November—why? You need to figure that out. The more data you have, the easier it will be to build a solid strategy.
The bottom-line: Better planning equals better information, a better strategy, and a better close ratio. To truly know where you stand after the show, approach your next event with an open mind and a strategy to collect valuable data. By gathering solid customer information and putting measurement strategies in place, you can fine-tune your trade show program for better return on your marketing spend.