Planning and executing a successful trade show experience can be challenging. However when you look at the number of people you can reach in a short period of time; the benefits are well worth the hard work.
Provided you follow up.
Once the trade show booth is packed up and shipped home, the real work begins. Do you make the most of those contacts?
Who did you see and What can you do?
Existing customers. It is easy to formulate a plan for keeping in touch with your existing customers. Perhaps they placed an order or made arrangements for a follow-up meeting. Make sure you also reach out to existing customers that attended the trade show but didn’t place an order.
What can you do? Create a list of those customers and send hand written “great to see you” notes. A hand written note says you care and that you value their business.
Potential customers. Prospects who visited your trade show booth are a great pool of people to reconnect with as quickly as possible.
What can you do? Hopefully you jotted down a personal note on the back of their business card so that when you contact them, preferably by phone, you can reference your conversation. Did they mention an upcoming product launch? A new location? A change in management? An upcoming vacation? Adding personal comments to your follow up conversation helps you stand out from the rest of the competition. Remember, the competition will also be reaching out to them after the event.
Vendors. Often you will run into vendors that you have done business with or hope to work with in the future. Continuing to nurture those relationships can benefit both of your businesses.
What can you do? Send them a quick email. Personalize the message. Take the extra 30 seconds to add a personal comment that assures them you remember them and aren’t just sending a mass email message.
Competitors. Everyone has competition and your business is no exception. Hopefully you took time to visit their trade show display and strike up a conversation. It is a small world. Your competition today could be a business you acquire in the future or an employee you hire in the future. Check out their display. What did they do well? What did you do better?
What can you do? Keep your eye out. Are they involved in social media? Periodically visit their website, blog, Facebook page and see what they are up to.
Look-E-Lous. This group of trade show attendees has the most potential for follow up. They may have just stopped by to drop their business card in your drawing pool or pick up your free tchotchkes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from your business in the future.
What can you do? Add their name and email to your Customer Contact Management System (i.e. Constant Contact or another method used for periodic marketing messages). Start with a follow up message: “Sorry you didn’t win the DVD player, but so glad you stopped by our booth.” Continue with a value-based message that provides information and shares your expertise. Continue with periodic messages – heavy on valuable information/light on sales pitches – and begin to make phone calls to learn more about their business, their needs and if you are a good fit for their company.
Important Note: Just because a visitor to your booth doesn’t become a customer doesn’t mean they can’t offer value. If you have done a great job helping them understand your unique value and keep your company name in front of them through periodic messages, they may know someone else who DOES need you.
What tips do you have for following up after a trade show event? Share your stories on our Facebook page.