May 7th, 2014 | by

Tradeshows can be exciting events – a lot of people, a lot of entertainment, a lot of exposure, a lot of parties. They can also cost a lot of money for little return if you choose to focus solely on what happens on the show floor. So often, exhibitors miss the tremendous potential in these events by focusing on how big and flashy their booth looks and what giveaway will lure in the largest number of people. However, if you focus your sales strategy on what happens before and after the show just as much (or more) than what happens at the show, tradeshows can bring your organization invaluable face-to-face meetings with targeted prospects – resulting in larger returns and shorter sales cycles.

Pre-Show Promotion

Unlike in Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, a tradeshow sales strategy isn’t as simple as “if you build it, they will come.” Yes, some attendees will walk aisle-by-aisle, starting from right to left, to see every booth at the show. And yes, some of those people may even see something in your booth graphics, friendly staff or cool SWAG that makes them stop. However, do you really want to leave meeting with the key decision maker at your target accounts up to chance?

1. Promote your presence at the show

First things first: Make sure people know you are going to be there. List it on your website’s events page. Add it to your corporate signature. Share via social media. Mention it on your blog. Be sure to include the show name and your booth # and/or location. A map is helpful too – people are visual creatures.

2. Target your ideal audience

Letting the general masses know that you are going to be at the show is a good start, but again, you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to meet with the “right” people. Build a targeted list of potential attendees – using your own database, the attendee list provided by the show or one of DiscoverOrg’s verified datasets profiling over 400,000 decision makers. Make sure that your message (email, direct mail, voicemail) is highly relevant to your target audience, speaking to their pain points and giving them a compelling reason to visit with you at the event. Focus more on the value of your product, less on the cool giveaway.

3.  Get on your targeted attendees’ schedule

If there are some really hot prospects on your list, you may want to send them a personal email from the CEO or strategic direct mail piece to really be sure that they know that you’ll be there. Then, seal the deal: get them to commit to a time and place to meet. The show floor and event agenda can get pretty hectic. Scheduling a meeting is the best way to ensure that you will see them at the show. Use a tool like Schedule Once or Calendly to make it even more simple for prospects. Keeping it short (10-20 min) and throwing in drinks or coffee always helps.

Post-Show Follow-Up

You came. You met. You conquered that tradeshow. And you’re done, right? Nope. After the show is when the real work (and payoff) begins. Your sales strategy for after the event should include the following:

1. Clean up your lead data

Even with the widespread use of scanners, a lot of information isn’t found on attendees’ badges. Make sure that your booth staff has included notes on key prospects from the show – either via an on-site qualification process or a post-show review. De-dup any records of leads who came by too many times for the free t-shirt. For those that didn’t provide all of their contact information or to verify the information that you’ve received, use DiscoverOrg’s ListMatch or Webhooks functionality to fill in the blanks.

2. Make your first touch immediate

From the targeted prospects that you met for coffee to the “trick-or-treaters” that just came by for the SWAG, make sure that all of your leads hear from you as soon as possible after the show closes. Everything becomes a blur for the attendee and you want to remain fresh in their mind. Follow up may look different based on the priority of the lead; however, the bare minimum should be a short thank you email letting them know that you will be in touch. Including an image of the booth or using similar creative helps to jog the memory too.

3.  Increase your reach

After you have followed up with your initial leads from the show, you should explore opportunities that didn’t present themselves on the show floor. Perhaps you met with a junior employee of a targeted company. You can use DiscoverOrg’s account intelligence to identify the key decision makers within the organization and capitalize on your interaction with one of their employees.

4.  Continue to engage with your leads

Whether your long term strategy includes a drip campaign or blocked telemarketing days or both, you should continue to nurture the leads gained from the show to maximize the potential return from exhibiting. Taking this strategy a step further, you could set up subscriptions within DiscoverOrg to inform you of new changes, leadership and projects with your hottest targets – even after the show is a distant memory. This data intelligence allows you to get on the phone or in the door at the right time with the right person – while still leveraging the in-person meeting.

Face to face interactions are priceless. They just don’t always happen by chance. If planned appropriately, exhibiting at a tradeshow or event can yield great returns. Including a sales strategy for both before and after the event can help your organization maximize the ROI and guarantee show success.

About the author

DeAnn Poe

As the Vice President of Marketing at DiscoverOrg, DeAnn and her team are responsible for sourcing 50% of the company’s pipeline and revenue through inbound and outbound demand gen programs. DeAnn has over 15 years of experience serving in Demand Gen and MarComm functions at software companies across a variety of verticals. DeAnn holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State University, San Marcos. She is Inbound Marketing certified, a Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM), and a 2017 Marketo Revvie Award finalist.