Tip #1 - Contact Early.
Let them know you’ll be there and where you're going to be. Properly inform them of the show and its tremendous benefits by using the tools provided in your marketing kit.
Ok, we know that AMTS is still a few months away, but it's time to start letting people know you'll be at the show. Why?
Think of a snowball rolling downhill. It starts slowly, growing and building momentum over time. That analogy is the same for driving traffic to this show, your booth, and ultimately, your business. You don't need to make a huge splash yet... just begin with ripples that continually and consistently spread out over time. Connect with your core customers and qualified prospects, using what most call a "drip campaign".
It's easy to start – we're not talking about complicated marketing materials or promotions here. Simply get the message out in ways you already talk to your customers and prospects every day....
Place a statement stuffer within your invoices that highlights the show, or add the show logo (found on Exhibitor Marketing Kit & Downloads) with "Visit us at Booth #" directly on your invoices – subtle but effective.
Add the show logo, your booth number, and "Be Sure To Come See Us" to everyone's email signatures throughout your company. You'll be amazed at the notice an email signature gets, especially when it is changed after looking the same for months.
It's one of the most effective marketing tools, so just add the show logo and your booth number to your home page. Have your webmaster make it clickable, linking to the show's site at DaytonAMTS.com in order to see dates, times, and even pre-register to attend. Want to bring more life to your home page? We also have a video file ready to upload, which not only promotes the show, but makes a great visual for your site.
If you or your business already has a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter presence, take two minutes to promote your booth number to your friends, network, and followers on these sites throughout the coming months.
- Just signed up to Exhibit at AMTS 2017! See us at Booth # on October 18 & 19. Over 3000 customers and prospects come each year.
- Come see (insert new product or equipment) at our Booth # at AMTS 2017 on 10/18 & 10/19.
- Customer Appreciation Gift (or other special offer) if you come see us at the AMTS 2017 at Booth #.
- Can't make it to AMTS 2017? Please repost (share/retweet) this – so others who'd be interested can find out more at DaytonAMTS.com.
You also help spread the word FOR FREE by going to daytonamts.com and clicking on the links to "friend", "RSVP" and "follow" the show's social pages. Be a leader among your competitors! Show them you're out there and you mean business! And make sure you forward to everyone in your social media networks. Talk about a snowball...
USE WHAT YOU'RE GIVEN
Pull out the Show Passes included in the available downloads. Those Show Passes give you and your sales force a great reason to stop by and see customers you haven't touched in a while and hot prospects that you're courting. Give them out freely – you can always print out more or request them from DRMA. Encourage attendees to Pre-Register at daytonamts.com to avoid the $10 fee or lines the day of the show.
The secret here is consistency of messaging. Start now to build consistency and momentum over the coming months. Get that snowball rolling.
Check out Tip #2 for more tangible ways to staying in front of your customers with REPETITION. REPETITION.
Tip #2 - Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
Stagger your communications leading up to the event and be consistent. Make sure always mention the event name, location, date, time, and your booth number.
Repeat outreach to your customers and prospects is vital as you prepare for AMTS. We’ve talked about contacting them early to visit you at your booth, now remember to contact them OFTEN. If you want them to absorb your message, repeat it. And we don’t mean two or three times, either. Current wisdom says it can take nine or more repetitions for a message to sink in. Here’s why:
- We are inundated with messages. It takes an effort to break through the clutter. Repetition, combined with a “what’s in it for me” message, will increase your odds of being noticed.
- Prospects buy when they’re ready. You need to be out there consistently to capture the prospect’s attention when he or she’s in purchasing mode.
- We retain only about 10% of the information we’re exposed to each day. Repetition increases the chance your message will be part of that lucky 10%.
- Many will miss your marketing message the first time around. Maybe they were on vacation, it didn't sink in, they were distracted by a major event in their lives, temporarily couldn't afford it, they weren't interested at the time, or a million other reasons.
In Tip #1 – Contact Early we gave you ways to spread the word through invoices, email signatures, your web site, social media, and the free tools in your Exhibitor Marketing Kit, with the intention to repeat your message through multiple mediums. You never know how people receive and absorb their information, so making sure your message is in every medium you have available increases its chances of being heard.
Repetition isn’t only about constantly reminding them to come see you at AMTS. It’s about making sure all your marketing and promotions are consistent and that they have your logo, colors, typeface, and slogans. Everything you develop should have the same look and feel…and be carried out the day of the show with your booth graphics, demonstrations, handouts, and giveaways.
Color repetition is a simple way to brand yourself on show day and gain memorability. One company, ShorTel, is a perfect example of this. Their exhibit staff wore orange shirts and black slacks, gave away orange and black carry bags, and had orange and black balloons staged throughout their trade show exhibit. Can you guess what their logo colors are? Attendees confirmed it was very easy to spot the ShoreTel trade show display and booth staff anywhere in the trade show exhibit hall.
Another way to make repetition work for you is by taking advantage of sponsorship opportunities at the show. Your logo can be seen all over the floor if it’s on attendee name badges, water bottles placed throughout the show, or as a “mobile billboard” on event staff shirts. Contact Exhibit Sales to find out how these and other sponsorship opportunities can get your name noticed.
And finally, keep in mind that repetition doesn’t end when the show ends. True, some leads will purchase right away. But as a 2009 Tradeshow Week survey pointed out, 60% of sales from show leads close more than seven months following the event, and over 40% of sales close more than a year following the event. To convert those that don't respond immediately to your offers into buyers, you need to keep in touch with them repeatedly before they will finally be motivated to act.
In Tip #3 we explore ways to “Give Them A Reason” to come see you at AMTS.
Tip #3 - Give Them a Reason.
Provide incentive to come to your booth, not just information. Premium promo items, giveaways, product discounts and show specials can sway potential attendees into coming.
An important part of your messaging when contacting your customers and prospects early and often, as we discuss in Tip #1 and Tip#2, is giving them a REASON to come to your booth. Your message “Come see me at Booth #123” isn’t enough. Tell them why.
- Are you introducing a new product or service?
- Announcing updates to a classic product that will better serve them?
- Do you have a live, quick product demo?
- Offering any show-only discounts or selling a product at a show rate?
- Do you have any free giveaways that are of value?
Of course a tried and true way to give attendees a reason to visit your booth is by giving away free stuff. Just be cautious that any free giveaways make sense for your business and your image. While it’s best to pick a promo item that they’ll use and re-use again and again (i.e. tote bags, USB flash drives, etc.), once you’ve decided on a promo item, here are some pre-show mailing ideas to get the word out to your target audience:
- Pre-mail a special invitation postcard, telling them to bring it to your booth at the show to claim a prize.
- Pre-mail half of a prize, with a message to pick up the other half at your booth.
- Having a hard time booking an appointment with a target prospect? Mail a pocket planner with a message to use it to schedule appointments while at the show, and include some pre-printed passes you were given in your marketing kit. Be sneaky and fill in one of the time slots in the planner to come to your booth.
No matter what your compelling reason is to visit your booth, always take a step back and think about why your customers and prospects are coming to the show in the first place, and focus on that in your booth messaging. “It’s like drill bits. Someone buying a drill bit is more interested in the hole the bit will make than the bit itself.”1 Think about how you can set up your booth to show the benefits of the products, not just the products themselves.
For more promotional ideas, check out Tip #4 to “Promote and Emote” both before and during AMTS.
- Quote from Margit Weisgal, president of Trade Show Exhibitors Association, Chicago, as printed in Dayton Business Journal 12/25/09.
Tip #4 – Be a Promoter.
Explain why your presence is important. Share your excitement and it will catch!
Okay, so you’ve been doing the smart thing and getting the word out early, often, and with a reason for customers and prospects to visit you at AMTS. Here are 10 more ways to PROMOTE AND EMOTE your company before and during the show.
- Call your top 50 customers and personally invite them to visit your booth. Send them your free show passes (Hey – remember these from your Marketing Downloads?) Don’t just promote yourself, promote other items of interest they’ll get to see at the show (competitors excluded, of course!) If you sound excited about the show, they’ll get excited about the show.
- Repeat #1 for your top prospects.
- No time to call? Email. Emailing individually (instead of to a group) works best. 4. Remember the freebie giveaways we talked about in Tip#3? Not only can you promote these ahead of time to entice people to your booth, but make sure the giveaway has your company name and contact information on it, so it has legs once the show is over.
- Consider coupling smaller freebies with a contest or raffle. Offer everyone that stops by the "courtesy gift" (a pen or box of breath mints) and then also have a raffle to give away something of more value – like an ipod.
- Or try three levels of gifts - one for good prospects, one for top prospects, and one to get non-qualified people to leave your booth with a smile. Keep your two top levels out of the public's eye, and award them discreetly and with pride.
- Looking for an “outside the box” idea? Send one of your associates around on a segway. Dress them in a t-shirt that says “Ask me about (insert your business product/service here)” and ride around the venue. Count how many attendees actually take notice and come by.
- Another favorite is to get your employees to walk around the trade show floor as walking human billboards—in bold t-shirts with a simple message or question on them that attendees can’t help but read that also directs them to your booth. The message can be as simple as your booth number and a big question mark.
- Hold a training or educational seminar. It not only puts your name out there, it implies that you must be THE expert on the subject. Just remember people are there to learn, not hear your sales pitch. Those who are interested in your products and services will seek you out.
- Use the tools we’ve provided to you! DRMA is committed to promoting AMTS, so combine your efforts with ours:
- Direct people to www.DaytonAMTS.com – devoted entirely to the show.
- Join us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and encourage your employees and contacts to spread the word to their networks as well. It only takes a few minutes.
- We have several promotional e-blasts that we’re sending to highly qualified potential attendees throughout the coming months. Ask to be on the list, and simply forward to your customers and prospects when you receive it.
Check out Tip#5 as we share ways to make sure you and your booth “Sparkle and Shine”.
Tip #5 – Show Your Best Self.
Just like customers appreciate a clean facility, they are attracted to a clean booth. First impressions matter!
It takes prospects three seconds to walk past your booth. In that three seconds you need to communicate who you are, what you do, and give people a reason to stop. Let’s say they stop. Now you have another four seconds to make a lasting impression.
Your message and presence at AMTS is a complete package. And people like nice, neat, clean, professional packages from those they plan on doing business with. Here are some tips on how to SPARKLE AND SHINE, standing out from your competitors.
Booths That Sparkle
One key when planning your booth graphics is making sure prospects can see you from a distance. A good rule of thumb is 1 inch of graphic height for every 3 feet of distance – so if you want to be visible from 30’ away, make sure your letters/graphics are at least 10” or higher. When determining your booth message, consider these other tips found on http://designcenter.tradeshow-stop.com/:
- Use simple, declarative text and bold, relevant graphics.
- Try to state your message in ten words or fewer with simple, everyday terms – try to avoid too much detail in your booth graphics—save those details for literature.
- Consistency is key—make sure all elements of your booth include some clue, visual or otherwise, to your brand or identity.
- A unified look = a professional look. You don’t want to be too noisy, too cluttered, too casual, or too formal.
- Consider some virtual demonstrations in addition to some live equipment, to save space. Don’t create physical barriers between you and your prospects, and ensure there is easy traffic flow throughout your space.
Staff That Shines
A professional, clean appearance will help make your prospects feel more confident that you have a very solid company. Having booth staff in “uniform”, whether wearing logoed corporate apparel, or at least the same colors, not only gives you a polished appearance, it advertises your company each time you walk the trade show floor. Some also feel wearing your logo keeps booth workers in a professional frame of mind – reminding them they are representing the company. Just like your booth, your staff should not be “too noisy, too cluttered, too casual or too formal.” Poor booth staff etiquette sends the wrong message to prospects.
And remember, once in your booth, you have four seconds to engage the prospect. Keep your spiel concise, but encourage them to stay. Staff should rehearse talking points to quickly let the prospect know who you are, what you do, and in that sense, quickly qualify as to whether you have something they need. Consider a 20-second “elevator speech” for staff on any product or service you want to highlight for those prospects you’re able to engage further, as a way to keep your message consistent to all attendees.
The overall goal is to get prospects and customers to see your booth, visit your booth, engage in your booth, and remember your booth. SPARKLE AND SHINE and they will.
Check out Tip #6 where we discuss the need to “Stay Relevant” to prospects and customers with your booth and your message.
Tip #6 - Stay Relevant.
That prize wheel collects dust, not leads. The tradeshow gimmicks of old don't cut it anymore and an updated method is in order—in substance, in style, in message and more.
"The average trade show attendee will spend seven to eight hours on the floor over a period of two to three days visiting an average of 25-31 exhibits. This leaves five to 15 minutes per visit – just five to 15 minutes to make a lasting impression that will give you an edge over the competition,” explains www.skylinetradeshowtips.com. Are you prepared to make that impression?
While a great thing about trade shows is that attendees have chosen to be there—so there is already a level of interest and pre-qualification—it can be overwhelming to attendees once they hit the show floor, especially if the relevancy of what they’re looking for is a small percentage of what is being shown. The following are some things to think about to make sure you’re staying RELEVANT and sending out a clear message to attract the right people to your booth.
First, consider your booth. Have you been using the same graphics for the past five years? Chances are your messaging has changed. Images may appear outdated. Stay current, or you won’t appear to be on the cutting-edge of your industry. As you consider new messaging:
- Make a list of your prospect types, and then list their likes and dislikes, needs, objectives and concerns. This helps you understand what is relevant to them.
- Make a list of the benefits of your product or service. Speak directly to prospects about how your product helps them solve a problem or provide a benefit.
- Armed with this knowledge, create bullet points with three to five words to list the benefits of your product or services.
- Use only three or four key bullet points (remember less is more).
Good targeted messaging not only helps you attract qualified attendees, it also helps weed out unqualified visitors. You can then focus your time on true buyers rather than large numbers of people that don’t have a need for your products or services.
Next, consider your giveaways. Attendees have limited time, and they want the most out of their trip. Pens and fun gadgets have their place, but you could consider more content-related giveaways that provide relevant information. If attendees know you’re going to give them a book, white paper, survey data, presentation or some other content-rich product that will help their businesses grow, they will find your booth, even if it’s in the back corner. Remember to promote your giveaway in all your pre-show marketing so prospects know to seek you out.
Finally, consider your follow up. A 2009 CEIR survey found that 56% of show attendees would prefer to receive information about a trade show via email rather than by other methods of notification.1 This statistic also applies to post-show communication. After visiting with a hot prospect and learning what they need, make sure you jot down a few notes about them. In the following weeks and months, find something that could help them – even if it isn’t your product or service at the time—and send a quick email with "Just thought you’d find this interesting.” Providing relevant information to prospects, and sharing information even when it doesn’t result in an immediate sale, builds a more valued relationship for future sales.
Want another tip? Tip #7 shows you how to "Switch It Up”.
- Power of Exhibitions in the 21stCentury; Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 2009
Tip #7 - Switch It Up.
Come prepared to talk about multiple topics. Like your customers, attendees will come with varied experiences and questions.
Whether this is your first trade show or your fiftieth, there will be, in some aspect of the show, a need to “Switch it Up.” With so many exhibitors vying for attendees’ attention, you need to tell your story in a more interesting and inviting way than the next booth.
If you are a new trade show exhibitor, you should be aware that two days of working a trade show booth can be draining. Whether you plan on working your booth yourself, or you are putting your best sales or marketing reps on it, remember that a key attraction in booths is enthusiastic staff. If your booth staff is friendly, energetic, and genuinely excited about your product or offering, it is likely to be contagious. Switch up your booth staff to avoid burnout. Make arrangements for them to take breaks and work in short shifts, so that a prospect meeting your company at 3 p.m. on day two gets the same fresh greeting as the one who stopped by at 11 a.m. on day one. That three second interaction speaks volumes to those attending your booth, as they quickly assess whether they “like” you and your company based on your employees, regardless of how impressive your product is.
As a veteran trade show exhibitor, you may be tempted to think that this is just another day, that you have your sales pitch down, and that your booth, while a bit tattered, is still compelling enough to draw people in. However, as showstopper.com explains, “As you develop experience with trade shows, you should think about keeping your presentations and booth fresh and interesting both for new and old customers. Look at featuring new products for your existing customers and if this isn’t possible, demonstrating product upgrades and showcasing new applications while keeping your marketing materials updated.” 1
Keep in mind that the majority of attendees have already visited your website for product information prior to attending the show. In a sense, they’ve met the product, and now they want to meet the people behind the product. Seventy-two percent of show visitors say the trade show influenced their buying decision.2 They are there not only to validate what they researched, but also to learn what it is you didn’t tell them – they want new information.
Further, 45% of attendees develop a connection with a brand after interacting with it at a trade show.3 Instead of the same-old sales pitch, engage them by switching it up and using graphics, video presentations, live presentations, hospitality events and educational sessions to show your latest and greatest products. Invite top customers to be your live spokespeople in your booth – as real, live testimonials to booth visitors. Leave your prospects with a good feeling about your brand and your products in a way that a direct mail piece, advertisement, or brochure can’t. The power of face-to-face interaction continues to be the heart of lasting business relationships. Your trade show participation not only gives you the opportunity to reinforce a lasting relationship with current customers, it also allows you to make a memorable first impression on new prospects more than any other medium.
Read Tip #8 where we discuss the importance of "Capturing Leads".
Tip #8 - Capture Leads.
Make the best use of your time by making sure you have the resources to capture every lead at the show.
A business card exchanged or scanned… A hand shaken... A person looked square in the eye… This is the goal every time, and achieving this goal is crucial. Making sure you have the resources to capture every lead will determine your success during and after AMTS. Tip #10 will address following up on these leads, but first, you have to CATCH the leads. Do you have a system in place?
What works for one company may not work for another. Analyze your business requirements, and select a trade show lead capture method that best meets your needs. Keep in mind that utilizing standard qualification questions will allow you to segment your leads by specific needs and interest levels. Don’t just capture their contact information—capture it in a format that makes it easy to use and that holds any necessary information and insight that will help your sales force during post-show follow-up.
Collecting business cards when attendees stop to ask questions or enter a contest is the most common method. While it’s fast and easy, it does not provide a way to ask qualifying questions, so you may find the quantity of captured leads is high, but the quality is low. You won’t know for sure if they are truly in the market for your product or just wanted to enter the contest. This method is best for those only interested in head count.
Asking prospects to complete a paper form is another way to gather leads. This gives you a way to jot down notes about your conversations with them as you talk or after they leave your booth, to help you when following up with them after the show. Staple their business card to the lead form to save time. The longer format also lets you add and tailor lead qualification questions in a way that meets your business needs. It’s recommended you use short questions and check boxes, and make sure you include and “opt-in” option for email communication.
Lead retrieval scanning devices are becoming more popular as costs come down. AMTS utilizes bar codes on badges, so renting a badge scanner and scanning the individual badges of each booth guest is a fast and efficient way to capture contact information, and then load directly into your CRM system. Some levels of service offer pre-qualification questions, so you’re able to rate your leads more effectively.
For those that attend multiple trade shows per year and have the resources, consider developing a trade-show -specific landing page to capture names and qualification information, pull it up on a laptop or kiosk at your booth, and have prospects enter their information directly. You can include an “opt-in” option for receiving email communications, and leads can be automatically loaded into your CRM system. You’ll end up with more legible, efficient data entry, and mandatory qualifying question and answer sets can be enforced.
No matter what method you use, effectively capturing leads gives you the ability to provide accurate marketing metrics, rationalize future participation level in trade shows, and give your sales team a running start by providing them with qualified leads.
Want to learn more about how to work your booth the day of the show? Read Tip #9 - Position Yourself.
Tip #9 - Position Yourself.
Work your booth and show like the pro that you are with these helpful Do's and Don'ts about working and staffing your booth.
Do you know 85% of the positive feelings visitors to your booth have are due to the booth staff?1 Work your booth at AMTS like the pro that you are. Be approachable, be positive, and be proactive – be a salesperson. Come out of your booth to meet your prospects on the show floor and smile like you mean it. Only you can bring them in, and you only have this one opportunity to make an impression with high impact.
In this spirit, the Association for Exhibit & Event Professionals offers these helpful Do’s and Don’ts on working and staffing your booth:
- Do learn the 80/20 rule and take it to heart. The best exhibitors are those who listen 80% of the time and talk 20%. Focusing on attendees' wants and needs is a surefire route to success.
- Don't "throw up" on attendees. This very common practice occurs when nervous exhibitors can't stop talking and keep up a constant barrage of facts, figures, and sales spiel. Attendees are quickly turned off by this, and your chance to form a profitable new business relationship walks away.
- Do remember you're on display. What you're selling at a tradeshow is, primarily, first impressions. Be professional, well dressed, and mannerly at all times. You never know who's watching.
- Don't eat, drink, or chat on your cell phone on the show floor. When you need refreshment or a break, leave your exhibit booth. Remember, the eyes of the public are on you at all times, so you'll want to conduct yourself well.
- Do be realistic. Tradeshows are long events. You're on the floor for anywhere from ten to twelve hours at a go, often several days in a row. This is a lot for any one person to do on their own, and most Nichepreneuers are solo operations. Ask for help. Recruit friends to work the show with you. If nothing else, they can spell you while you grab a quick bite to eat.
- Don't forget! If you have friends help you at the tradeshow, it behooves you to provide them with some training. Make sure they understand what your services are, how you're different from your peers, and what the marketing message is. Also, have a plan in place to cover what they should do when they run into a question they don't know the answer to.
- Do ask qualifying questions. You want to know who you're talking to, who they work for, and in what capacity. This will help you determine if the attendee is a prospective customer or not.
- Don't be afraid to encourage people to move along if they're not interested in your services. Some of the people who attend tradeshows are 'tire-kickers' -- they like to discuss everything, but buy nothing. You don't want to waste your time with them.
- Do be polite and nice to everyone. The junior executive today can be a senior executive tomorrow.
As always, remember your goals and objectives of exhibiting at AMTS, and make sure everyone on your staff is working toward that common end. Enthusiasm in your booth, as in your everyday business, will be contagious.
Don't forget the last step of any trade show - Follow Up with Tip #10.
Tip #10 - Follow Up.
The most important part of the show is what you do with those leads! Designate a team and form a plan before you’re even on the floor.
The show is over. Or is it? Make sure all of your hard work at AMTS isn't in vain by promptly contacting those connections you've made. Don't be part of the 80% of exhibitors that don't follow up on show leads.1 The same methods you used for pre-show marketing can be used for post-show marketing, only now you have a larger, more accurate bank of qualified prospects that you've seen face to face, whom will be more likely to listen to your message.
As skylinetradeshowtips.com suggests, "Think of your first day back from the show as the last day of the show. Have your fulfillment packages prepared ahead of time, so you can send your responses right away."2 A sincere, simple "thank you" for visiting you at the show goes a long way, but only if it's received while you're still fresh in the prospect's mind.
The first step is to organize your leads into hot prospects, warm leads, and cool contacts, which was ideally sketched out in whatever way you determined to Capture Leads. Hot prospects are those who've asked for specific information or a follow-up appointment, and they should be contacted within two days of the show, before your competition can reach them. Warm leads could use your product or service down the line, but may not be in the market to buy right now, and should be contacted within five days. Cool contacts are attendees that visited your booth and gave you contact information but are not truly your target. While you may not feel it is worth the time to follow up with these contacts, just remember that you never know what position or job they may have in your industry in the future, and your goal is to cultivate all leads and keep them actively engaged in your company until they are ready to purchase. While you may not have a solution for them now, invite them to be on your newsletter E-blast list, for example, as a way to stay in touch.
With your initial follow up after the show complete, you are off to a better start than most of your competitors. But remember that 60% of all sales from show leads close more than seven months following the event and 40% more than a year following the event.3 Be careful not to presume your success at the show hinges on sales closed that month. And don't stop marketing to your newly found prospects a few weeks after the show. Include them in your overall marketing plans as the year continues, so that when the time is right, and they are ready to buy, they think of you.
- 2009 Center for Exhibition Industry ResearchReport
- 2009 Tradeshow Week Survey