One of the first things that a new event marketer will learn about trade shows is that the show itself isn’t the most important part. How your team prioritizes and follows up with leads after the show will have the greatest impact on your ROI. Since most purchases aren’t made on the show floor, the follow up sequence is where conversions can be found. The follow up process will also help you weed out the positive engagers from the purchase intenders. While we love fans, what we need is customers.
At the same time, trade show follow-up can be daunting. While your audience was all-smiles at the show, cavorting and keeping things easy, these same customers will take a different tone inside their inbox. The best way to keep your leads in that easy, smiling space where you met them, is to keep giving more than you’re asking for in return. How do you give freely when all you want to do is ask for a purchase? Follow these 7 steps.
Prioritize your leads.
Every lead from the show should get some sort of follow-up email. However, you need to know who’s worth the heavy-lifting of multiple back-and-forth emails, high personalization, and effort - and who’s not ready for all that yet. Your team may have a lead scoring or qualification method that you swear by. If you haven’t planned that far yet, we recommend checking out the ABC method.
Time it right.
It might be your instinct to start following up with prospects while sitting in traffic after the show, but reconsider. Would you rather join the heaps of other exhibitors who are bombarding your prospect, or grab your own spotlight in a few days? Advice from marketer Dann Albright suggests waiting: “Many sales reps send emails immediately after the trade show, which means your prospect is going to be getting hit hard with a lot of pitches. Wait a few days before you send your follow-up email. It gives your lead a chance to travel back home, get re-situated, and give some thought to what they learned at the show.” Whatever you do, though, don’t wait two months and expect prospects to remember meeting you - they may not.
Make it personal.
The best thing you can do for your follow-up experience is to take notes during the show. It’s important that you know who you’re reaching out to - not just names and emails, but companies and stories, too. If you’re able to send Janet McMichaels an email that reminds her that you two spoke about her specific issue, with solutions to her company’s most pressing problem, she’ll be captivated. If you reach out to “Hello friend” with a generic email that provides no real value or insight, it could easily be overlooked.
Provide real value.
Not everyone you reach out to will be ready to add to cart on the first try. The best way to stay in your prospect’s sights and good graces is to give more than you ask in return. The best way to do this is by providing resources, advice, insights, or infotainment that your prospect would want to engage with, regardless of their intent to buy. This keeps them on the hook without any need for clickbait.
Keep it simple.
Don’t overwhelm your prospect. In your first email (or your first five), there’s no need to go over every feature of every product or service you offer. Don’t offer them 10 different choices of what to read next or how best to engage with you. Keep your paths to action simple and the contents of your email short and succinct. This approach is respectful of your prospect’s time while also reducing friction to your intended action.
Nurture low-priority leads.
When you prioritized your leads, you probably had some that weren’t quite the right fit, and some which were compatible but not ready to buy. Don’t chuck these email addresses out the window - add them to a nurture campaign! You would be surprised how many of these leads will remember you, appreciate that you kept in touch and provided added value, and might buy from you in 6 months’ time.
This might not be easy after the rush of exhibiting and meeting so many perfect-fit customers-in-waiting, but pause. You don’t want to convert these customers, grab their cash, and forget their names. You want to nurture real relationships that can become repeat customers, referring customers, and an excellent network for your company’s growth. This requires patience, empathy, and dedication. With those three qualities, and these 7 tips, you will undoubtedly find success during your post-show follow-up.