Tradeshows have long been effective for meeting prospects and promoting your business in B2B Marketing. A great place to network, start conversations with VIPs and maybe bag a few freebies.
The new powerful technologies of B2B Marketing
Now there are powerful new technologies that can revolutionise the value you get from hiring, building and managing a stand – which is always a big investment. Based on our experience and extensive research at shows, here are 10 tips to optimize your metrics and ensure success. What is interesting is that nearly all of them use technology and online business networks. And what’s tragic is that almost no exhibitors use it – never underestimate the power of inertia!
The technologies also deliver one HUGE extra benefits: they will give you clear metrics, so you will know the value you got.
Most of the tips below will apply to your business, regardless of its nature or size – there is something here for everybody interested in B2B Marketing:
- Select your VIPs (‘Very Important Prospects’). This could be 10 businesses or up to 500 (depending on your business) but value is all about focus: set clear goals to engage with them and detail what you want to achieve from the meetings.
- Research the senior people from your VIPs. LinkedIn is ideal – print their profiles and have them at your stand in a folder for quick access when they visit you. You can even (politely) stalk them if you see them wandering past! On each profile, mark a couple of talking points so that each conversation becomes more relevant and valuable. Key tip: have junior staff start conversations, while the manager checks the profile and joins if they are a prospect, ready-armed with knowledge about them.
- Be clear on your business card collection strategy: establish clear guidelines before the show on who is considered ‘valuable’, and then sort the cards into A, B and C piles: “A” is VIPs while “C” can be added to your email marketing – or to the bin. Write on the backs of the cards what the “NS” (next step) is. Recording something personal about a prospect is great for deepening the relationship later. If you are scanning, you still need to categorise while you can remember the details – or you will end up with lots of information of little value.
- Consider referral partners and joint venture partners – potential partners are often exhibitors: ensure these companies are on your VIP list, not just key prospects.
- Write “met at (Show name)” on the back of your own business cards – before the show. A year later they’ll remember where you met and this can remind them to give you a call.
- Prepare draft connection messages for LinkedIn. For example, “Hi [firstname], great to meet you at CeBIT 2016, be good to connect here as well”. And then, as appropriate, add something like “As discussed, it would be useful to catch up. Are you around in the week beginning May 25th?”
- Install LinkedIn and Twitter Apps on your phone – for easy and fast connections at the show. Speed can impress – and connecting on these networks makes follow up so much easier. You can do this during downtime when no-one is passing.
- Make follow-up meetings at the show easy to arrange – by choosing an easily recognisable location and time. For example: “Why don’t we meet at the start of morning tea in the cafe near the XX stand?”, and get there early to get a good table (this tip is for non-exhibitors).
- Follow up with your VIPs (A cards) within two days of the show – send an email suggesting a meeting, and then send a connect request on LinkedIn. Do the follow-up admin work.
- And the BIG tip (without which all your efforts may be wasted). Have a staff member or a contractor ready to start the follow up on the day after the show. This means having a clear plan and written instructions to guide them. Prepare something valuable to send out – remember they don’t need another brochure!
Read more about the very intricate B2B Marketing industry.
Cheers, Toby [C11]
Toby is the author of 4 books including Get Your Prospects Talking Back available on Amazon