Author Archive

Trade Show Follow-Up: 5 tips to optimize response

November 26th, 2012

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

For the past seven years, trade shows have surpassed websites, email marketing and paid search to secure the top spot as B2B marketers? biggest investment, according to the MarketingSherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report.

But, do marketers make the most of this investment? I can’t help but wonder given my own trade show attendance experience.

For weeks after, I unsubscribe from newsletters and sales pitches from companies I barely recognize.

Here’s what I suspect happens:

  • They sponsor the event and set up a booth.
  • They put together a list of attendees’ contact info based on collected business cards, contest entries and captures from the dreaded lead guns, which instantly gather contact information by scanning trade show badges.
  • They dump this list into their database.
  • Attendees automatically receive whatever they’re already sending to their email lists.

Trade Show ≠ Instant Engagement

Just because someone attends a trade show does not mean that every organization in attendance is relevant to her, or that she is eager to receive newsletters, the latest product updates or a sales call. Too many companies wrongly assume trade show attendance equals instant engagement.

If you don’t want to be banished to the spam file or voicemail, take the succeeding steps when following up with trade show prospects:

  1. Invite or welcome them to your email list. Explain how you attained their names, make it personal and connect back to their motivation. Example: “I hope you enjoyed the conference as much as I did. We really believe in (core event values).”If they chatted with a sales professional, reference that conversation. Do what you can to show what you have in common (primarily, the event) and why they should engage with your company.
  2. Create event-related content. Again, the event is what connects you. Write articles and blogs about it. Interview the event’s subject matter experts. Bring along a reporter. Demonstrate your value to attendees by providing a fresh perspective and helping them assimilate even more knowledge. After all, that’s why they attend conferences and trade shows. Use this content as part of a nurturing campaign, as outlined below.
  3. Don’t sell, nurture. Only 5% to 15% of inquiries are ready to speak to Sales, so the rest require nurturing until they fit your universal lead definition (ULD).  (Don’t have one? Make one. Find out how here: “Universal Lead Definition: Why 61% of B2B marketers are wasting resources and how they can stop.”)Develop a lead-nurturing campaign to guide prospects through the marketing funnel until they’re ready to speak to Sales. Find out how to do that here: “Lead Nurturing: You could be losing as much as 80% of your sales; here’s how you keep them.”
  4. Encourage your salespeople to make personal connections. Make sure your sales professionals individually follow up with the people they spoke with, whether that’s through sending email, connecting on LinkedIn, or following them on Twitter. People build relationships with people, not companies.
  5. Keep them engaged, even if they’re never going to be a customer. Don’t discard attendees who are not a fit; they could become a champion of your brand, or possibly a partner or collaborator. Engage them by developing a nurturing campaign that will keep them abreast of what’s happening in your organization. Invite them to subscribe to an online newsletter, attend online events, or connect via social media.

Want to learn more about how to make the most of your trade show investment? Check out this article: “9 Simple Tactics to Drive a Higher Return on Trade Show Investment.”

Do you have additional recommendations to optimize trade show follow-up? Feel free to share them in the comments. I would love to hear your ideas.

Related Resources:

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 — February 19-22 in Las Vegas

How to Use Lead Scoring to Drive the Highest Return on Your Trade-Show Investment

Lead Generation: 39% say offline lead gen has somewhat decreased

Lead Generation: Trends in 2012 marketing budgets

Nine Simple Tactics to Drive a Higher Return on Trade Show Investment

January 15th, 2012

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

In his most recent post, Dave Green pointed out how marketers invest most of their budget on trade shows even though it ranks fourth in effectiveness. He went on to explain how to get a better return on your trade-show investment through lead scoring.

Now I’m going to share nine tactics that will drive those lead scores — and your ROI — even higher:

Do thorough research. Find out which attendees fit your Universal Lead Definition. If you have access to the registration list, analyze it. Look up registrants on LinkedIn. Develop a list of targets you want to seek out during the event. Research the sponsors, too. They should all be on the event website. There may be ways to join forces with them to reach your audience.

Leverage social media before, during and after the event. Connect with attendees and build your profile before the event through your blog and updates on Twitter and LinkedIn. Tweet relevant content during the event. Invite customer feedback afterward. There’s so much more than can be addressed in this post, so I advise looking online for more great ideas.

Creatively partner with event organizers. If you’re holding an educational or social event, brainstorm with them to see how they can help you attract more and better attendees. This could be everything from sending pre-event emails to including information in registration packages. Negotiate support before signing contracts to minimize costs and maximize opportunity.

Get involved with the event. Don’t just be a statue at a booth. Try to attend a few sessions, switch off with your team members to sit with attendees at lunch and engage on a personal level. It will help you build relationships and you will be able to strike up more relevant conversations if you just sat through the same keynote. Best of all, the conference will be more fun and you’ll learn a lot more.

Provide value, not trinkets. People attend events to gain knowledge and share it with their teams. Time is always tight as they try to take care of work back at the office while absorbing as much information as they can. That’s why you must always think about what’s in it for them to engage with your brand. Provide what they really can use: resources to drive their business to the next level — whether that’s a strategic piece of content, a tool or an opportunity to network with their peers.

Focus only on those who have expressed genuine interest. Trade shows often reward people if they visit as many booths as possible. At too many events, I’ve witnessed sales professionals requiring attendees to sit through a 10-minute presentation to “prove” they’ve visited the booth, when the attendees clearly don’t care about their product.

Are they interested? Take note. At minimum, jot your name and notes about their issues on their business card, and assign one person to collect and enter information into your database for follow up. Include the solution they’re interested in, the issue they’re trying to resolve, other contacts they’ve had with your organization, and any qualitative intel that will help the person following up — such as “launching a new website in Q2” or “unhappy with solution X.”

Promptly and professionally follow up. Before the event even begins, be ready to follow up. Prepare a brief, customizable email template to send out immediately afterward. It can come directly from the sales professional who spoke with the prospect, or it could reference the conversation and any key information you were able to capture. If the prospect doesn’t respond, follow up with a thoughtfully scripted phone call where you position yourself as a resource they can turn to when they are ready to talk. Don’t stalk and don’t be pushy, but do be responsive and close the loop. And be absolutely sure that only one person is doing the follow up. (This is why it’s critical to work from a single database.)

Track and measure the results. After the follow-up emails have been sent and calls have been made, note how many are still in your marketing and sales funnels, and how many deals closed. Monitor this throughout the year to determine whether the trade show is worth investing in the next time.

Do you have additional ideas on how to make the most of your tradeshow investments? I’d love to hear about them. Share them in the comments below.