Trade Show Anyone?

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It’s trade show season!! Actually ‘season’ might be a stretch, but for folks in the LBM space, there is a lot going on in the next 6 months. There’s the BCMC show, the NAWLA Trader’s Market, NRLA, World of Concrete and the International Building Show in February, among others I’m sure. Busy time for the marketers out there. Trade shows don’t just happen and being there is a huge investment, whether you are exhibiting or attending. And whilst we see some shows going virtual, the ‘real ones’ remain one of the few 3-D marketing experiences. You can’t hide behind an email or a Zoom background…it’s literally show time!

So what can you do to maximize your time and presence at the show? The old adage that “half my marketing budget is wasted but I don’t know which half” is not an excuse you can use for a trade show any more. If the plan for the show doesn’t go beyond building a booth and booking travel, the chances are you won’t max out being there, no matter how many folks you talk to. Sure, people will find your booth, you’ll network like a pro, have some ‘great discussions’ and probably stay up too late at the bar (at least one night) since that’s where the ‘real work gets done’, but how do you make your trade show experience better than everyone else’s?

Something to think about: people might not always remember ‘better’, especially when they are bouncing from booth to booth at a busy trade show. They might remember ‘different’ though. It’s hard to stand out when you are just another one-time conversation among hundreds of conversations. You can fundamentally shift the outcome in your favor with two simple steps:

    1. Don’t be a one-time experience. Communicate with your customers (and prospects) before, during, and after the show.
    2. Do that with a digital experience that creates continuity, again, before, after and during the show. As part of the experience, immerse them in your brand and give them a reason to seek you out at the event and to keep engaging with you.

And after the show – that’s when the real work starts. You should come away with a comprehensive list of all the folks you engaged with at the show, late night bar conversations included. Make sure the list gets worked, so everyone receives a follow up and you can continue to market to them. Be consistent and stick with the theme of easy to interact with and easy to consume what you send them. Don’t make it an effort for them to engage with you.

Technology is a key element to making all this happen. And it’s a mix of stuff, not a silver bullet that does everything. Think about your LinkedIn page to start with. If you are asking someone you haven’t met before to meet you at an event, the chances are they’ll want to learn a little bit about you and your company. If you haven’t polished your profile in a while it might be time.

Email is a great way to communicate with folks leading up to an event. In addition, think about leveraging a Yesler storefront as part of your communication. Point folks to your very own landing page where they can start their digital journey with you.

Email won’t help you much at the show itself, but if you’ve created some regular traffic to your storefront leading up to the show, customers and prospects will know where to find you and your products. After the show it’ll likely be a mix of emails and phone calls to re-engage and follow up. There’s a better way but I don’t want to give away all my trade show secrets 😉

Michael Welch
Head of Sales
Michael brings over two decades of Sales and Business Development leadership in the software and technology space, including strategic partnerships and alliance creation. His experience spans both the US and European markets covering everything from Mobile to SaaS and SMB to the Enterprise.

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