Business Trade Shows Part III: After the Event
If you've just returned from a trade show, and you want your next quarters sales to look like the latter half of the above graph, pay attention.
It's Monday morning, and the trade show is over. You're home, back in the office, and you've submitted your expense report to accounting. You're all done, right? You handed out 1000 business cards, everyone promised to call you first thing Monday morning, so why is your phone so quiet? Here is where the entire investment in the show can go down the drain. Follow-up is critical. Every one of those prospects need to have follow-up. Lots of it. One contact isn't going to be enough. Any sales person worth their grit knows that 80% of sales is follow up. Every single prospect from that show is going to need at least 5 attempts to contact before they engage again.
First, send out a short email drip that includes a 'thanks for visiting us at the trade show.' It doesn't need to be long to be effective, but should include a reference to the trade show so they know you're not just more spam. Remember, they probably have as many emails to catch up on as you when they get back to the office. The second email should be a 'call to action' email. Send an invitation to meet via phone or in person, and add something for them to download. The download can be a whitepaper, or even just your brochure, but it is always good to attach something.
Now comes the really hard work. Contacting prospects. No one is going to just mail you revenues, and even the "really interested" attendees are really only "kind of interested" - you need to actively market to your trade show visitors. If some seem uninterested, put their names in a tickler file to try back in 3 months, or better yet, add them to a drip nurturing campaign. Just be sure not to just let them drop; the situation may change in the future.
In summary, look at a trade show as a marketing event that goes beyond the time spent at a booth in some convention center. It is just a stage in a lengthy and important marketing campaign. Make sure you prepare for the show and do active follow-up afterward. Otherwise a trade show is just an expensive few days meeting lots of people you will never see again.
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