So, you’ve exhibited at an influential equine trade show – you made the investment and now, post-event, it appears the buzz of potentially boosting business and growing sales is fast fading. Unfortunately, this post-event period can all too easily see those invaluable contacts fall by the wayside, whilst the pre-event frantic rush is replaced with business as usual.
If you’ve invested in an exhibition stand, don’t allow the momentum to simply fade away – make the most of your investment by following these tips for optimal return.
First things first – Be prompt
Time is of the essence – wait too long to make contact again with those you’ve spoken with and you run the risk of being completely forgotten. As soon as you return to your business, make sure that the first thing you do is craft a solid follow-up plan. You should wait no longer than a week to get in touch with your leads.
Equally however, many other businesses will be on their phones 9 am Monday morning – which can be nothing short of a nightmare for other companies that are trying to get back into the swing of the working week. For this reason, you may want to delay any calls or emails until the following day.
Research has shown that 50% of trade fair visitors are routinely disappointed with the follow-up service that they receive after the event (AUMA). This is most often attributable to a business struggling to fulfil orders in a timely and effective manner, as a rush of new business comes their way. Above all else, you and your team should be prepared for this – and any forthcoming orders should be treated to the same customer service and delivery timescales as your oldest of customers.
Hold a de-briefing session
Feeding back to your staff as to the success of the event is not only important for recognising their efforts in the lead up to the day or days, but it should also serve as an ideal moment to analyse how successful your attendance was.
Opening communication between the team as to what did and didn’t work can additionally help shape the next event – and can also ensure everyone is in the loop for the upcoming steps to make the most of the contacts gained.
Decide upon an offer (or range of offers)
Creating a little urgency for your potential customers can be an excellent way of ‘striking whilst the iron is hot’. To this end, you should think carefully about any offers you could put on in the two weeks immediately following the trade show. Should your product range be diverse, you may want to offer a blanket discount across all products.
Create an email marketing list
Hopefully you gathered plenty of business cards and contact details over the course of the exhibition. Now, it’s time to choose your method of contact and approach carefully.
Whilst you’ll likely have several warm to hot leads that warrant a follow up call, the clear majority may be cooler leads that will need further nurturing before they’re ready to become a fully paid up customer. For this reason, you should begin by segmenting your contacts.
This can be done in several ways – the first and simplest being by cool, warm and hot. Beyond this however, you may wish to consider what products or services of yours these leads may be interested in. If you can clearly separate them into groups in this sense, then all the better. The consequent email content that you create can then hone in on the potential interests and pain points of the company in question.
Decision makers, decision makers
If you can see a clear split in those you’ve spoken to from the perspective of who’s a decision maker, and who’s not, then it’s worthwhile segmenting these into their own category. Those who are acting on behalf of their company may well need something tangible to approach their manager with – such as a product sample, brochure or product information.
Before you send out emails on-mass, send a single email to each contact you remember
Personalisation is key when it comes to email marketing – so if you remember some contacts and the things that you discussed (no matter how trivial) be sure to include this in your email. This could be anything from a discussion over a speech, moment or product demonstration during the event, to something related to their business.
Create content that addresses each prospects’ pain points
Your prospects are ultimately trying to solve a pain point – whether extending their product range, choosing products that offer more margin or attracting their own new custom with innovative merchandise. Gaining a solid understanding of each segment and their problems can help you in creating on-going content that will engage your audience for the longer term. This is also worth bearing in mind for future conversations at trade shows – informal chats can often be an invaluable source of getting to know your target market on a whole new and more detailed a level.
Remind fellow businesses of how successful the event was
Like you, fellow attendees and exhibitors can soon forget about an event once the buzz has worn away – so remind them of how successful it was (and how well your stall was received) by writing a post-event wrap-up. This should include an event overview, details as to when and where the event took place, an approximate number of attendees and exhibitors; key interviews, product demonstrations or moments during the event. It should also feature a thank you to the event organisers.
Including videos, images and further reading sources can also help enrich your content, whilst gaining a quote from the organisers or someone influential at the event can provide for plenty of authority which looks great for your business.
You should complete this piece within 48 hours following the event – post it to your blog and link to it from your social pages. You could also visit the social page of the event itself or tag in any relevant accounts (this can be an effective way to get a few shares, re-tweets or plus ones that boost your following or fan count!).
Didn’t get around to visiting all the other exhibitors? Send a friendly email or letter
Exhibitions are typically home to 100+ other stands and even over the course of a few days, it can be impossible to get around to them all. Yet these fellow businesses could well be an invaluable source of untapped sales – so create a list of each company you didn’t speak with and send them a courtesy email or letter (you could even provide a link to your event wrap up blog post – even better if you include their company amongst the names of exhibitors).
Join the post-event chatter
Following an event, you will likely find plenty of post-show talk on the social pages of the event, as well as on equine industry forums. Involving yourself in these conversations is a great opportunity for reminding fellow attendees of your presence and catching any contacts that you didn’t get a chance to speak with on the day itself.
If you’ve chatted with other businesses but not agreed on any formal steps to follow up, be sure to follow them across social media sites – this is an unpressurised approach that can slowly foster a working relationship. As you do so, send them a quick, informal message. Something along the lines of “It was great meeting you at [EVENT NAME]. We wrote a piece on the event, do feel free to give it a read – there’s a section in there on the [INSERT KEY MOMENT THEY MAY BE INTERESTED IN].
Posting information? Show them you’ve taken the time to remember them
A simple and effective way to make any posted information work all the harder for you is to personalise the letter content – and to add in a hand-written note (on a compliment slip or post-it note perhaps).
Had a great conversation with a local business? Then pop by
If you’ve had a positive conversation with a company local to yours don’t be afraid to pop by to drop off information in person. This can really show a little extra effort – and the fact that you’re a local business could well mean that you gain an invitation to meet further down the line.
If you thought you were busy in the run up to the exhibition, you may well be all the busier post event if you commit to crafting (and sticking to) an effective post-trade fair strategy. Above all else, it’s vital that you make the most of the contact information that you’ve gained – not only in the immediate term, but for the far longer term – over months and years, if they’re not yet ready to become a valuable customer of yours today.
For more help maximising your experience, contact PressPoint today.