HERE IS THE SHORT ANSWER:
YOU ARE A DUTIFUL SOLDIER OF TASK.
NOT, A BOUNTIFUL STATESMAN OF ASTOUNDING STRATEGY.
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
― Sun Tzu
You plan for your trade shows. You do not account for trade shows as a part of the mix in your cross-channel marketing strategy. Hence, if fails shamelessly.
Strategy addresses why. Plan is focused on how.
STRATEGY IS FLEXIBLE AND ADAPTABLE — FOCUSED ON THE OVER ARCHING GOAL.
PLAN IS FIXED AND DEMANDS DISCIPLINED STEPS TO FOLLOW THROUGH, IN ACHIEVING AN IMMEDIATE OUTCOME
PLAN BECOMES THE MASTER OF MONOTONY AND CREATOR OF COLLAPSE WHEN YOU —
KEEP DOING THE SAME THING, THAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING FOR YEARS
Some trade show exhibitors (hopefully not you!) are stuck in a rut. They go to the same shows, they bring the same booth staffers, they offer the same promotions, they have the same booth design, no matter what show they go to. This is the strategy driven by inertia.
There is no measurement of past shows or research of potential new shows to alter their show schedule. No measurement of qualified lead counts from booth staffers to identify keepers and staffers to stop bringing to shows. No changing of booth graphic messages to adapt to different industry shows. No testing of anything to find a better way.
YOU FOCUS ON LOGISTICS OVER MARKETING
Whoever manages your trade shows must handle hundreds of minute details about shipping, hotels, plane tickets, vendors, executives, timing, and more. It’s a lot to keep track of, and without it, the show doesn’t go on. So, all that must-do activity crowds out the optional, but the essential strategy of making the marketing mix blossom.
What gets put on the back burner, and then often not done, is training the booth staff on how to take more leads and then qualify them in the booth, creating a marketing campaign with promotions that get more attendees into the booth, better lead management to ensure better follow up, and more measurement to then decide what is generating sales and marketing results and what needs to be improved.
BREAK OUT! STRIKE WITH SERIOUS TACTICS
"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
― Sun Tzu
HERE ARE THE TRADE SHOW TACTICS THAT ARE WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION
1. GENERATE QUALIFIED LEADS
To get more leads, you need more booth traffic, and then have your booth visitors want to continue the conversation after the show.
To get more booth traffic, you need to be at shows where your buyers walk, an attractive exhibit, desirable promotions, and most of all, more and better staffers to get people out of the aisle and into a fruitful dialog.
Do you know what shows have a higher number and percentage of attendees that match your buyer profile?
Do you know what kinds of promotions appeals to their demographic?
Does you exhibit have enough visual impact to stop attendees?
Have you trained your booth staffers how to convince attendees your company offers a viable solution to their problems? These tactics will boost your lead counts.
2. INCREASE AWARENESS OF YOUR BRAND, YOUR PRODUCT AND YOUR INDUSTRY
Increase your company visibility with an entertainer or activity in your booth that creates a buzz. Or, use a promotion that will get talked about, or a giveaway that everyone will see, like a bag or a sponsorship.
Run ads, send email and direct mail, and interact on social media promoting your at-show presence.
Try to get your top management or subject matter experts placed as speakers at the show.
If you are launching a new product and want to increase awareness of that, then enter any contests or special show floor areas or public relations opportunities the show offers around new products. These activities may also bring you leads, but they will definitely boost awareness even more.
Above all, do you know if your booth visitors fall under, TOFU, MOFU or BOFU
Here is a quick rundown, and what you are supposed to do as an exhibitor
TOFU — TOP OF THE SALES FUNNEL
At this stage of the funnel, you want to nail down the problems that your attendees, visiting your booth are having with their products and services. (Technology have made even doing the simple stuff very complicated.) Once they stopped by your booth, take the time to work with them to make them aware of their problems.
To that end, your voice, your script and the way you command their attention should be non-threatening. Be hyper helpful in an effort to build an early relationship.
MOFU — MIDDLE OF THE SALES FUNNEL
At this stage of the funnel, you know that your visitors are aware of your brand and you are under serious consideration, however, they're not ready to buy yet.
You need to give them reasons to buy to move them to the bottom of the funnel where they actually make a purchase and convert.
As an exhibitor, here is what you need to do:
Free trials, discounts and money back guarantees and any show specials you can think of; work well to move prospects from the middle of the funnel to the bottom.
Your goal at this point is to motivate them to make a purchase. Put your showmanship on. Invite them for an intimate face to face. Take them out for a drink. Have your C suite who is present at the venue talk to them or have your exiting customer talk to them about using your product/services.
Make sure the entire consumer experience is created for their specific buyer persona by developing highly targeted offers, messages, content, landing pages and follow-up campaigns.
This is how you make them feel special and strengthen your brand's relationship with them.
BOFU — BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL
This is it — the final, decision-making stage. At this stage of the funnel, your content should be product-specific. Talk about about the pros and cons of your product or service compared to the competition.
Share other customer success stories to prove your claims and instruct your prospects how to take the final step to solve their problem.
It's important to understand that not everyone in the bottom of the funnel is ready to buy immediately. Some people might just need one more reminder, but others will need a bit more motivation.
3. STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIP — WITH MARKET MOVERS, WITH CUSTOMERS, AND THEIR CUSTOMERS, WITH INDUSTRY INFLUENCERS, AND WITH INDUSTRY PUBLISHING HOUSES
Build Relationships via Trade Shows — Develop the mindset of Quality over Quantity
Here, you are almost always deciding to focus on a smaller audience than, when your focus is generating awareness and reaping leads. That means a shift in scale.
Your exhibit may be designed more like a lounge or an office, with spaces for comfortable meetings to honor your key contacts.
You may even have a double-deck exhibit with a conference room on top. Your promotions will be fewer, but more expensive, and your booth staffers must be top-notch, either part of executive management, or the best people-persons you have.
Relationship-building, extends beyond the booth, to include meals (dinners, breakfasts) outside exhibit hours, and even special events (a fun activity in the show city, a night on the town) with the most important people you want to bond with.
And your promotions will be more personalized, with account managers contacting their clients, or channel managers inviting their partners.
For business-to-business marketers, trade shows are perhaps the best medium to achieve your business goals. Why? Because, it is your play ground for you to extend your influence.
However, as David Nour is CEO of The Nour Group states:
You must foster sufficient influence and credibility that the people you wish to help make listening and learning from you a priority.
In our often chaotic and too-busy world, influence enables you to cut through the clutter and be heard. But influence has two prerequisites.
First, you must have something of significant value to share.
Second, you must be able to tell the difference between what is of value to one person versus another. Hint: they are seldom the same.
TRADE SHOW MARKETING ARMS YOU WITH LASTING LEVERAGE —
"Flaming enthusiasm backed up by horse sense and persistence is the quality that most frequently makes for success." — You get direct access in reading your attendees' facial clues. Make the most of it.
"People are more likely to accept an order if they had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued." — You get direct reach to tap your target audience in your product development. Make the most of it.
"The average person is more interested in her own name than in all the other names on earth put together." — You get the opportunity to make your audience hear their name. Make the most of it.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR, DO NOT MAKE MARKETING MUNDANE
In Celebration of Your Strategy!
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