Don’t Wait Until Showtime to Build Your Encore!
Exhibiting at a business show or expo in your industry is a great way to get in front of your ideal clients and prospects.
You’ll be there with all eyes on you as visitors pass by and hopefully visit your stand. It’s all set up to be a great method of lead generation.
But we often hear from others that exhibiting is a waste of time and money.
So what’s the truth behind this? Is it a waste of effort?
The problem with exhibiting isn’t the shows themselves, it’s that most people simply concentrate on the exhibition and don’t think about the before, during, and after activities.
The important thing is to remember that the show attendees haven’t come to buy from you. They’ve come to learn, network, and maybe find a supplier for what they might need in the future. If they’re not ready to buy your products or services then you need to apply a lot of what we talk about elsewhere on this blog.
So we thought we’d give you some ideas to make sure you’re making the most of exhibitions and expos. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
BEFORE – get your ducks in a row!
The great thing about a show or exhibition is that the organiser will do a lot of the marketing and work for you in terms of bringing people there. They’ll want a vibrant and buzzing show so it’s highly likely that there are already methods in place to make the show a success. Can you piggyback on any of those? Share what they’re doing on social media if it makes the event look attractive.
Twitter hashtags: Many shows will have a hashtag for the event. If they’re good marketers they’ll be using the hashtag and encouraging others to.
Even people who don’t tweet much will get involved here, giving you a perfect chance to chat to people who are coming to the event. So start the conversation.
Website bio: Most shows will give you space on their website to promote your business stand. Use this piece of content or bio to attract people. Give them a reason to come and see you at your stand. Some organisers are using video, too. It’s worth recording a short video to let people know you’ll be there, if this is an option for you.
While others are listing all their accreditations and what they can do, you could offer a free report or review, or give them any good reason to visit you. Make it about them and you’ll attract more of the right kind of people.
Facebook ads: Before a show there will be people booking into the show, which will be visible in their online activity. Facebook ads can target this.
If someone goes to the Acme Expo website and books on, their activity and interests will allow you to target anyone who likes Acme Co. This works even better if the show has a large following on Facebook as the Acme Co brand page will show as an interest too.
Failing that, look to target your adverts at business owners with an interest in exhibitions, networking, and expos. Try running some ads including the benefits of visiting your stand. And be creative! Lots of people give away a bottle of champagne but maybe you could find something more in line with your brand?
Search LinkedIn: On LinkedIn you might want to search out some conversation around the exhibition. The show organiser will be sharing it, so show up in the comments there but also search the entire platform for the show name and venue, and see who else is going or exhibiting and start a conversation with them.
You need meetings – so arrange them!
Email your list: It’s good to talk (and meet!) so email your list and tell them that you’re going to be at the show. Offer a chat, review, or free content. If they’re on your list we bet they’ll be likely to want to meet you in person if you just offer.
DURING – What will you do at the show?
Plan now. In the build-up to the show you’ll have all the other work to do as well as the show prep, so plan your actions at the show as early as you can.
Think about data collection – so that’s usually business cards and email addresses. How will you safely store the information, and what will you do with it afterwards?
Make sure your visitors have a valid reason to not only visit your stand but to give you their card.
Make it worth their while. What’s in it for them?
You might consider some of the following:
- Push them to your website for social media tracking. Getting them to download some free quality content from your website will not only capture data, it’ll allow you to send them more great content via Facebook re-targeted Ads if you have a pixel installed.
- Create a game for your stand. The buzz and excitement generated from a competitive game is a proven way to get people gathered around. A bit of excitement and interaction goes a long way. Can you create a leaderboard and give away a prize to the winner at the end of the show?
- Capture data! Get emails and phone numbers so that you can follow up with them afterwards. All follow-ups should be appropriate to what you’ve spoken about. Make notes if there’s anything specific you promised to do, or any information you said you’d send. You don’t want to be flaky. This isn’t a spamming exercise though; it’s a value-led system. You could use the SalesRadar scanning app to put all that in place.
Plan your system and create the content before you go to the show. The build-up is busy but you can do this quite well in advance. Make sure your team knows the processes you’ve got in place.
Work out who’s responsible for your online presence on the day. Get your best social media guru on the job and make sure they tell the rest of the team what’s going on. Keep up with that Twitter wall and hashtag too. Post some updates, share some stories, and appear in the timeline that others will be using, looking at and reviewing later. That way you’re not only visible in the real world, but you can take over the online world, too.
AFTER – stay remembered for the right reasons
When we’ve been to shows we generally don’t get follow-ups from the people we’ve seen. Sometimes we get a generic sales-led email and then nothing. Worse is when they’ve taken our details but don’t even use a name.
It’s poor and one of the main reasons shows don’t work!
Where’s the conversation? Where’s the value? Where’s the relationship building?
Don’t do that – plan to stay remembered!
Create a series of emails and social media updates that will entice and excite your leads from the show.
What do you do? How can you help people? Create some emails around this. Automate them to go to the attendees that you meet (not just anyone who visited) to educate and help them.
Then apply that to your social media and follow them and connect on there too. If you put their details into the Radar tool within our system you’ll find their social media handles easily. Have a chat online about whether they enjoyed the show and if they saw any valuable speakers.
You’ll probably have had a couple of quite exciting conversations with people you’re pretty sure want to buy from you. Consider physically posting something out to those hot leads and following up with them via a phone call to make sure they got it, to continue that conversation. These people need to be treated differently from the people who just handed you a business card and left. How can you make them feel special and valued?
SalesRadar allows you to have different audiences and tasks for each audience and it can be set as early as the scan of a card.
So, hot leads get one thing, and other new contacts get something else.
The follow-up is so important and when you consider how few businesses do it, there’s a huge opportunity there!
Exhibiting does work in the long term. Like with most marketing activity, sales just take time and you’ll need a few touchpoints before they’re converted.
If someone meets you for the first time then they might not be ready for what you have to offer as it’s the first time that they came across it.
So it makes sense to approach these shows just as you would with networking. It’s just the start of a long conversation and discovery.
Give it time, give it content, and give it some thought.
Need help setting up your sales process? Not sure how to gather the right data when you exhibit?