Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Most entrepreneurs spend a lot of time developing their digital marketing strategy. You might work for hours refining your SEO across your website. Perhaps you’re busy posting to your preferred social media platforms right now? But are you taking advantage of the wealth of marketing opportunities available offline? You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or even use the media. You might find that conventions or expos could provide you with valuable, qualified leads for less effort and money than you spend online.
Finding The Right Venue
The first thing you need to do is find the right event or venue to suit your business activity. If you sell sporting goods, then it makes sense to look for an exhibition or event where other sporting goods providers will be attending. It’s not unusual to stand side-by-side with your competitors at these things. It will help you focus your unique selling point and proposition more clearly!
Of course, if you’re a service provider, then you might feel right at home at a number of different events. Copywriters might do well at any exhibition or trade show that is within their writing niche. Fitness gurus could find many customers and industry contacts at health food expos too. Think outside the box. Ultimately, you’re looking for the places where your customers are likely to be.
Booking Your Place
Booking a stand for an event like this is often a simple and easy process online. Chances are you’ll find there are different positions offered at different prices. Your budget might dictate which you go for. It’s rare to see who else has bought a stand before all bookings are made. Pick a size that offers you enough room to meet and greet. You might need space for a couple of tables for product displays or demonstrations.
If you’re going to perform any presentations check with the venue what facilities you’ll have access to. Is there internet connectivity? Are there power sockets nearby? What will the lighting or sound hook-ups be like?
Planning Your Action At The Event
Planning is crucial if you want to maximize your time and effectiveness at an exhibition or event. Determine your purpose there. Try to focus on one or two key objectives. You already know you want to pick up some quality leads but exactly which product or service are you working for? What benefit are you going to concentrate on? You want it to be the one most likely to attract the type of people that will be walking past your stand at this event.
Just as you would plan any business meeting, you need to plan how you will initiate conversations with people passing by. What will you talk about? What will you show them? What do you want them to see as they go by? This could be a great branding opportunity if you meticulously design your stand.
What More Do You Need To Do There?
This is a PR opportunity, a branding opportunity, and a sales opportunity. You might want to think about merchandising opportunities to prolong the brand contact with visitors to your stand. Start with the lanyards you’re wearing at the event. Companies like The Lanyards Factory can customize these things to detail your brand or company name. Then you can add pens, USB sticks, notepads, and anything else you think will stay with your lead for a while. If you think your customers have young children, why not included a branded toy?
How To Network And Engage Visitors To Your Stand
Networking is important here too. Make sure you have someone to take care of your stand while you wander about to meet other business leaders. This could be the ideal opportunity to meet people that might become corporate customers, suppliers or affiliates in the future. If nothing else, you might be inspired by some of the ideas your competitors have brought along!
Engaging visitors at your stand is easy when you’ve had a chance to practice. Make sure you rehearse what you have to say. Speak to salespeople that frequently engage leads this way. What body language works? What are the keywords that will make a lead turn to face you and listen? Can you bring any social media or other digital interactivity into play?
Make Each Contact Count
Ultimately you want to convert each contact into a lead. They might just leave their name and email address at your stand, but it’s a start. To get to that point might require a lengthy conversation or a practical demonstration. Don’t shy away from this level of investment on just one person. To make that count, try to integrate what you’re doing with social media so it can easily be shared. Something as simple as sending a photo via Bluetooth to their phone could help here.
Be sure to fully introduce yourself and add a few interesting details to make yourself more memorable. Ask questions of your lead. Try to remember the information for your lead sheet. It’s important to be helpful. If you know of someone else at the exhibition that may be of help to your customer, then suggest them.
Follow-ups, Leads, And Orders
Always follow up on all your leads. Re-introduce yourself in the email or call. Give them any information you weren’t able to offer at the time you met. Don’t make this follow too pushy. Just try to build trust at this point and extend the amount of help you’re able to offer. If you’ve posted anything about them from the exhibition on social media, be sure to tag them fully and let them know.
Exhibitions, conventions, expos and events should all be part of your sales funnel and marketing strategy. They’re a great way to follow up with existing customers too. You might be able to pick up a testimony or case study while you’re there. Ultimately you’re after a sale, however far along the customer journey that might be. Enjoy.