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How to master the tricks of the trade show

Trade shows or exhibitions are popular sales opportunities for technical businesses, and provide a great example of how effective marketing can complement your sales effort and help you to win more business. They also provide a great example of how ‘sales’ without ‘marketing’ can be a waste of your precious money.

How many companies still attend exhibitions, at great expense, without telling their prospective customers in advance that they’re going, and why they should visit the stand? The answer: lots of them.

Modern marketing technologies including e-mail, News and Blog feeds (via your website) and social media are low-cost and highly effective methods of communication, enabling you to ‘warm up’ your contacts before the exhibition – to tell them that you’re going, where they can find you (hall and stand number), why they should visit you (your unique service offer), and how they can pre-arrange meetings with you. By doing this you’ll be on the front foot when you get there – with potential customers warmed up and lined up for sales meetings.

Once the exhibition is underway, your competitors are likely to be doing everything they can to attract your prospective customers to them, with product/service launches, drinks receptions as well as sustained communications announcing their on-stand activities and service benefits.

You need to keep communicating with your prospective customers throughout the exhibition, via social media, e-mail or text, to keep you at the forefront of their minds and draw them back to you.

When your prospective customers get home, they’ll no doubt find a ‘to do’ list as long as their arm, a pile of paperwork and the usual problems to sort out. There’s a real possibility that they’ll forget about that promising discussion you had at the exhibition, and that your sales effort will lose its momentum. It’s also likely that, while they really like your services, they’re just not ready to buy yet.

That’s where ‘lead nurturing’ comes in. First of all you need to get those prospective customers onto your marketing database, and connect with them via social media. Then you need to ‘keep the conversation going’ by providing them with targeted information that ‘solves their problems’ – about how you can increase their productivity, reduce their down time, maximise their profits. This will keep you and your services at the forefront of their minds and gradually build their trust in you, making them more likely to come to you when they’re ready to buy.

As we highlighted last month your marketing should be little and often, don’t stop just because your back from the exhibition.