Deciding to attend a trade show is a big decision for any company. There are many factors to take into consideration when nailing down which show is ultimately the best. Once you have committed to attend, the work to maximize your return on investment has only begun. After understanding all of the advantages and disadvantages trade shows offer, it’s best to strategize and prepare in advance to make it worthwhile.
There are many details of show attendance that should be thought out to ensure nothing is forgotten. A few details include: who is attending, booth location, what is your focus, how will you drive traffic, what materials will you bring and how will you market your presence. Right now, we are going to focus on marketing your trade show presence. Pre-show marketing is a critical component of attending a trade show and will set the tone of your success. The fact that you get to see your prospects face-to-face is already giving you a leg up, so if you can pull out all the stops to gain high booth traffic, why wouldn’t you?
You will most likely have access to an attendee and exhibitor registration list. It’s best to get your hands on this list as soon as possible. You may have to source additional information to execute your marketing efforts (if that’s allowed of course). Additionally, you should scour the list to identify any highly qualified prospects you are dying to connect with, let them be your number one focus and any additional connects are a total bonus.
We recommend planning out a series of emails with various topics and subject lines as well as staggered deployment dates. Ultimately, your goal is to raise awareness about who you are and why they should come talk to you. To capture their attention you must hone in on your targets and identify key pain points you are solving for. The more focused you are on the problems you solve for these particular targets, the more likely they are to have their ears perked up. Take a friendly, welcoming approach, keeping in mind you’ll see them face-to-face at the show.
As your email series are sent out keep a close eye on your data. Tracking activity and engagement of your prospects will give you loads of information. A prospect who is consistently opening and engaging with your emails should be flagged for additional follow-up such as a phone call. Don’t forget to send a reminder email the night before the show to those who have agreed to stop by.
Reaching out to trade show attendees over the phone will continue to enhance awareness about your company’s presence at the show. Have a script handy, but it keep it short and sweet by simply inviting them to stop by your booth. It’s important to have a well crafted script for conversations as well as voicemails.
Of course it’s less effort to send a sequence of emails, but putting in the time to make phone calls will allow you to connect with your prospects in a different way - personal touch. Not everyone who is attending the show will be dedicated enough to execute an outbound call campaign which can work to your advantage. According to trade show and event marketing firm Exhibit Systems, an average of only 10-15% of trade show exhibitors invest in pre-show marketing efforts.
If you have a large list, you may find it beneficial to prioritize your list, making it a little more approachable. Additionally there may be people on the list that aren’t an ideal prospect for you or you may already be talking to them and would like to approach them differently.
In a digital savvy world, direct mail is not the most popular marketing tools these days, but trade shows are the perfect time to utilize a direct mail campaign. In most cases, mail gets handed to many people and you have an opportunity to catch someone’s attention along the way. Be strategic in your design of the piece to really capture their eye in a simple way. In our opinion, putting your invite in an envelope would be a way of money and effort. You can simply send a fun postcard that is bright and playful. Think of all the mail you get day in and day out. What would stop you in your tracks? That’s the type of thinking that will set you apart from the rest!
A fun idea to encourage a meet up is by offering an incentive on your direct mail piece. Try something like “bring this postcard to booth 123 to receive a $5 Starbucks gift card” or “bring this postcard to booth 456 for a chance to win a pair of Apple Airpods. Try to leave room in your trade show budget for these types of luxuries. If you are at the right trade show, it will pay off in the end. Keep in mind you don’t have give away hundreds of dollars of freebees to stand out, you just need to be creative. Double check that your mailing has all of the important details about your company: Name, booth number, website, email phone and social media handles if you plan on being active.
Not everyone exhibiting at the show will put effort into pre show marketing so use this to your advantage. Demand your company and product to be known by attendees. The more marketing tools you are able to execute on, the better. Using multiple strategies gives you a greater chance of standing out and connecting with your prospects. When putting your marketing plan together try to keep your message dialed in and consistent. It is the perfect time to be creative and try new things. Make pre-show marketing a priority!
Because trade shows are such an investment, determining your ROI is very important but can be challenging. Establishing measurable and quantifiable goals prior to the show will help determine your pre, during and post show strategies and how to properly execute. The ROI calculator featured in our Trade Shows Aren’t Just about the Shows white paper may be a good starting point for your team.
Stay tuned for during show and post show strategies.
Getting ahold of your intended prospect can sometimes be a challenge. Occasionally there is a gatekeeper standing in your way. This is generally an associate or assistant that sits between you and the person you are trying to connect with. Often times gatekeepers are more prevalent in large businesses than small ones where the owner is generally present.
A sales person feels armed with their thought out pitch and well-identified contact list, but the gatekeepers could be keeping you from ever getting in contact with the decision maker. The gatekeepers job is to make sure the calls going through to individuals are appropriate. Since decision makers are busy, the gatekeeper can often be cautious to which calls go through. As you work to get ahold of your intended prospect, don’t look at the gatekeeper as a roadblock, but instead as a tool to use at your advantage.
Here are five tips to help you navigate your way around the gatekeeper while also gaining valuable information from them.
1. Connect with the gatekeeper
Just as you have researched the decision maker, it’s also important to gather a couple key details about the gatekeeper. With the help of social media platforms like LinkedIn and a company’s website, it only takes a few minutes to learn a few facts about who you are talking to. This will give you instant leverage by connecting with the gatekeeper on a personal level.
Remember, the gatekeeper is a wealth of knowledge, but in order to gain information, you’ll need to build rapport. Since they are the gateway to the decision maker, they are scanning many calls a day. You are going to have to find a way to stand out. Be kind and friendly. This will probably be a change from the usual conversations and in turn, yield better results.
2. Have a Script
Just as you will have a script in hand for the decision maker, also have one documented for the gatekeeper. This should be short and sweet. No more than 30 seconds. It should sound natural and be something you can customize as you go.
There’s nothing worse than sounding like you are reading off of a piece of paper. A gatekeeper will be able to spot a rehearsed script from a mile away, but you’ll still want to have your message planned out to keep you on track. Many times sales reps can get caught up on the details and deliver more information than needed off the bat. Remember, the purpose of this call is only to get you through to the decision maker.
3. Know who you are asking for
When calling the gatekeeper, know who you are asking for. The best way to do this is by sounding like you’ve been there before. By doing so, though, don’t lie. Even if it gets you past the gatekeeper, it’s going to start the entire conversation on a bad note.
Continue to use the gatekeeper as tool. The person you originally thought was the best to get in contact with, might actually not be. There could be someone else within the company who would be better suited for your presentation. The gatekeeper will be able to guide you in the right direction if you work the conversation to your advantage. You could start with a discovery question such as, “If (blank) isn’t available, is there anyone else I could get in contact with that is in charge of (blank)?”
Then if that doesn’t get you anywhere, you could try asking a couple of your qualifying questions such as:What’s the purchase approval process like?
How have decisions like this been made previously?
Who else is involved in this process?
They may not know the answers to these questions depending on who the gatekeeper is, but it could help guide you in the right direction if you were at a standstill.
4. Save your presentation/pitch
Save your pitch for the actual person you are trying to get a hold of – not the gatekeeper. Remember, the gatekeeper does not usually have buying power or the ability to say yes. Don’t waste their time and yours by diving into unnecessary details about your product or service. Instead your goal is to schedule a follow-up call or appointment to talk to the decision maker.
Again, the gatekeeper works closely with those that hold the power to make decisions. Use them to your advantage. Ask questions and start conversations that lead you to find out more information such as an email address, your prospect’s schedule or a better time to call.
5. Be genuine
The most important thing to remember when it comes to the gatekeeper is they should be looked at as an ally. Don’t dismiss them, but instead treat them with respect. This will give you the best chance of getting through to the decision maker.
Don’t forget, the gatekeeper holds an immense amount of power when it comes to who gets through to the decision maker and who doesn’t. Trying to intimidate them or diminish their worth will only earn you a negative reputation within that company. Appreciate their role within the company and they’ll show consideration to your needs in return.
To learn our top tips to construct your script, target your message, refine delivery and evaluate success, download our New Year, New Pitch whitepaper!
Delighting customers should be a business goal year-over-year. Satisfying prospects from the initial conversation, all the way through your partnership is critical to keep them as a client and for them to become your promoter. Use the 6 strategies below to help amplify your customer delight in 2019 and beyond.
1. Double Down on Your Efforts
What you put into a project or relationship will be what you get out of it. Simply stating, if you put maximum effort into your clients, product/service and prospects, the results will follow. Handle each aspect of your business with effort and care. This will ultimately solidify the partnerships you’ve formed and show how much delighting those you work with is important to you.
2. Ask for Feedback
Often times, you never know what your team is excelling at or falling short of, if you don’t ask. Examining what your team is doing from an outsider's perspective can make a world of difference. Ask your clients to share with your team what is working well, the areas they are struggling with and where they see future opportunities. Knowing exactly how clients and prospect feel, give your team the chance to make changes and focus on creating the best possible customer experience. Use an open forum, send surveys or even interview your clients to get their input. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, it will truly benefit your organization and the relationships you have.
3. Invoke Clear Communication
There is nothing better than having everyone on the same page...and that starts with clear communication. It is usually better to over-communicate to ensure each party knows exactly what is happening and expected of them. Create agendas for meetings, so everyone has visibility to the same information. Send post-call/meeting recaps, including action items, next steps and key points from your conversations. Simply sharing details clearly can give your prospect or client confidence that your team values the relationship and wants to share what is or isn’t happening.
4. Be Transparent
At MPI, transparency is one of our core values. Sharing details about our business and the direction we’re headed, as well as posting real-time campaign results for our clients to see are just a few ways we highlight transparency at MPI. Being completely honest and upfront has been the foundation for the strongest partnerships we have. Showcasing results, capabilities and analytics when they’re positive or negative displays honesty and invokes trust.
5. Highlight Positivity
Language is a crucial part of people, perception and persuasion. When you have upbeat and positive energy, it will radiate onto those around you. Prospects and clients want to do business with those who believe in what they’re doing, represent their brand to expected standards and have an optimistic outlook. Additionally, invoking small changes in the way you speak with clients can greatly affect how the customer or prospect hears your response. When sending emails or convey in-person or phone messages, take extra time to ensure the words you use and the tone of your voice are positive. The positivity you show will go a long way with delighting everyone around you.
6. Willingness to Learn
Having the drive and the willingness to learn will not only help with workplace growth, but personal growth as well. Taking time to grow your knowledge about clients you work with, prospects in your pipeline and overall processes and procedures will give everyone comfort that you have intelligence on the subject matter and are prepared for what you’re doing. When you show you took the time to learn and even adapt to someone’s strategy or workflow, comfort and trust will increase exponentially.
These are just 6 ways you should improve customer delight at your workplace. Tailor these strategies to the individuals you’re working with, the company they work for and the processes that foster the relationship by exceeding expectations. To learn more about customer delight and other marketing trends, download our whitepaper.
A new era is here... the flywheel.
Currently, trust in media advertising, what you read, see on the internet and sales and marketing is at an all-time low. With all of the options out there, consumers are hesitant about who to believe. Because confidence is low, delighting your prospects from the very first interaction to your last, is a necessity to ensure a positive customer experience.
The old sales funnels focused mainly on taking prospects through the sales cycle, but didn’t take feelings, retention or post-sale into consideration. That funnel excelled at assisting companies with streamlining their sales process from the awareness stage all the way to signing on the dotted line, but we understand the sales cycle is more than a contract, it's about the relationship. Now, it’s time to say goodbye to the funnel methodology of focusing on growing how you market and highlight what’s most important…the customer experience. The new and improved methodology is now in flywheel form and focuses heavily on customers’ experience, using it to attract, engage and delight customers, every step of the way. According to Forbes, customer experience is best described as the perception customers have of your brand. In fact, "Delivering exceptional customer experience is critical to your business. When you get it right, you increase revenue and retain more customers by building a brand reputation that they trust." If we focus our energy on customer experience, the growth will follow seamlessly.
HubSpot introduced this marketing concept at the annual Inbound Conference in September and according to HubSpot Founder Brian Halligan, “we’re in a big era shift,” which is why the new flywheel concept is so important. The flywheel has four parts:
Attract - Educating prospects, strangers and even clients with thought leadership pieces and resources, helping eliminating barriers they face
Engage - Building relationships that actually focus on the customers terms, wants and needs
Delight - Shifting resources and direction to tie your business’ success to your customers’ success, because ultimately, customer success drives yours
Customers - Customers are placed in the middle of the funnel because customer experience is what makes the business world go ‘round. Helping customers meet their goals will help fuel growth for their business and yours.
“We’re moving from an era where we created a funnel and filled it with friction to an era where — if you want to win and have a delightful customer experience — a flywheel can ease that friction,” said Halligan.
Providing the best customer experience is what wins business in the end. It will help establish relationships with new prospects and will strengthen and retain your current customer relationships. Will you get behind the flywheel or stay stuck in the past with the sales funnel?
For more on this new concept, read HubSpot’s article INBOUND 2018: HubSpot Unveils Flywheel Framework To Better Attract, Engage & Delight Buyers