Notes from an Exhibiting Webinar, Part 2

In part 1 we talked about how important it is for HR suppliers to “identify sales and marketing objectives to take advantage of opportunities at a trade show,” and now we’re going to cover the next step of how supplier should “utilize pre-show marketing to identify and attract the right people to your booth.”

Again, this is great information from a Webinar about “exhibiting success” by Jefferson Davis, hosted by the Association for Financial Professionals, entitled “How to Effectively Plan, Prepare and Promote Your Exhibit for Maximum Results.”

This next step is really a part of the plan you develop in the first point, but is important enough to merit its’ own section.

Most HR-related trade shows offer a pre-show attendee list for little or no cost to exhibitors. The problem here, as in the first point, is not enough people actually take advantage of it. No more than 15% of exhibitors do any kind of targeted, pre-show marketing. Relying on the same old strategy of “put it up and they will come” doesn’t put good, qualified leads in your booth with any regularity. It is a hit-and-miss strategy. No wonder so many exhibitors complain about trade shows not generating enough quality leads.

According to Mr. Davis, attendees at most trade shows:
What this says is that trade show attendees are going to these shows for a reason, and if you aren’t giving them a reason to come by your booth you may never see them except across the aisle at your competitor’s booth. So how do you get them to your booth? Simple, tell them you are going to be there.

Get the pre-show attendee list and actually use it. Email all your existing customers and invite them to come by your booth (customer retention is a great goal for companies at trade shows). Remember all those email addresses you captured from the white paper requests off your website? Email those people as well. Consider purchasing a list from an organization or periodical in your market space and send to it. The key to all these methods are that they generate qualified leads. And qualified leads are what most want out of exhibiting (well, actually, most want sales, but sales usually come from good sales leads).

To get the right leads, you first have to figure out what constitutes a good lead. Here are a few questions to ask at your planning meeting concerning what makes a good lead:
Simply saying you’re going to do pre-show marketing and actually doing it are, in fact, two completely separate things. One does not beget the other. You really do have to pull the checkbook out and write a few checks. Yes, we know you are already spending umpteen thousand dollars on booth space, travel, hotel, meals, staff, literature, the booth itself, free handouts, and other things that the budget has run dry. Wrong answer. Remember the part about good, qualified leads? Here is where getting them to your booth actually takes place.

The lists will cost some money, as will postage. Email is free, but you still have to rent the list, and with the current attitudes regarding spam and junk email, it may not be the best stand-alone strategy. Nothing beats actually having something in the hands of your target prospect. Your overall exhibiting budget should allow for somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% for pre-show marketing. If you are at a bigger show, have a smaller booth, or are tucked in a low-traffic corner, you should allocate more money for your pre-show marketing. YOU have to get the word out about your booth, and do it before the show, to achieve your objectives.

Success at HR trade shows is not only possible, it is not as hard as most think. The first step is to identify your objectives and goals, then create a plan to achieve them. As part of that plan, pre-show marketing will help drive the people you want to your booth, enabling your staff to make the most out of their time and your exhibiting budget. We encourage you to put these ideas into practice and see for yourself how your exhibiting experience can become an asset, not just a requirement.

Good luck to you!