If you think that it’s redundant to spend marketing dollars on trade shows and events, that they’re expensive and time consuming, and that your marketing efforts should exclusively go online, nothing could be further from the truth.
Statistics show that trade shows and events are important as ever. 50% of attendees at trade shows are new prospects, and 77% of attendees found at least one supplier in the latest trade show they added.
Trade shows clearly continue to provide value and have tremendous potential.
But you need to make sure you are doing the right things to reap the maximum benefits that trade shows and marketing events offer. And for that, you need the right marketing tools at your disposal.
The key thing is to combine your online and offline tactics by making use of the right resources — people, processes, event marketing best-practices and technology tools.
Here are top ten must-have tools that you can use to get the most out of your events:
1. Event websites
This is something you can control and leverage the year round. Start creating a buzz around your event and use your event website to promote the event in advance. Salesforce does a tremendous job at this with their Dreamforce event.
You could add pictures of your previous events, start talking about your product or service or even offer exciting offers so that your prospective leads know exactly what to expect and feel excited to visit your booth.
Sharing the following from previous events help make a positive impact:
- Names of guest speakers
- Forums or topics
- Presentation slides
Flyers are a great way to catch the attention of your prospective leads. Small, easy to handle and easy to transport, flyers can be inserted within newspapers and magazines, or can simply be handed out near the event venue just before the event. You could pique the interest of a prospective lead who might like what they see, and end up increasing your sales.
Larger than a flyer, but with essentially the same purpose. Large, life-size posters could be displayed on street corners, at the venue of the event and other busy and prominent streets.
A large, well-made poster is bound to draw attention, and stir up excitement surrounding the event. With increasing hype around the event, you have a much better chance of reaching out to a larger number of customers.
Colourful and eye-catching posters can increase the visibility of your event and enhance its outreach towards the general audience, with a probable boost in sales.
4. Business card readers
Everyone is going to be extremely busy at an event booth, whether it’s your team or the attendees you meet. People have to do multiple things at once. In such a scenario, business card readers eliminate the need for physical retention of business cards to capture contacts.
ScanBizCards offers an easy way to capture all of the lead information from business cards digitally. This saves you from the hassle of collecting tonnes of paper cards and manually compiling data after the event.
The app (for both iOS and Android smartphones) can scan multiple cards at once, and allows export to a variety of CRMs directly or via a CSV file. It also doubles as an event badge scanner, letting you scan your visitors’ badge to instantly capture they contact information.
It’s a must-have tool for sales representatives at trade shows and events to make sure they capture every single lead accurately. And more leads captured means more sales opportunities.
5. Media publications
Media publications in newspapers and magazines in a targeted way can serve as a very powerful PR tool.
Newspapers and magazines help increase the reach of your marketing campaigns. For instance, tech industry-specific magazines can help propagate information to a very specific tech enthusiast audience. This way, you can target prospects that you would like to turn into customers.
6. Social media
Unarguable, social media is the most powerful tool at your disposal to increase the ROI on events, when combined effectively with other tactics in your marketing mix.
Here you can target 42% of the global population, all at once. You can connect to your guests, track their activities, see their interests and mould your product offerings to suit their interests.
With the rise of tools like Facebook Insights, you can follow your target audience and discern their usage and social media presence timings and frequencies. It is also a great platform for positive customer engagement and great support.
Social media is a tool that gives you the opportunity to tick all the right boxes, and when you do, the ROI of your event is bound to increase.
7. Email automation tools
Actively engaging your event attendees list which can be both, your prospective leads as well as your existing customers can go a long way in warming up your targeted leads. Involving them in your events, and advertising your products can result in higher conversions. Maybe your product is just the thing one of your leads was looking for.
Email marketing tools allow you to send personalized targeted emails to your lists. You should segment your leads, and then target your core audience for your product. Make them find value in your offer.
Researchers have found that email marketing has the maximum ROI for every dollar spent with respect to all channels.
But be careful not to spam. Don’t be pushy. Otherwise, they may just unsubscribe you.
8. Event tickets
This another great tactic to boost awareness and improve your visibility at an event.
Apart from online sites, you can create a partnership with local stores, cafes and hangout spots to sell your tickets.
You can also partner with restaurant chains, bookstores and shop outlets, so that they offer discounts to prospects purchasing your event tickets from them. A partnership like this can help you reach out to many new people.
It’s always a great practice to maintain a list of all attendees from your previous events, and segment them. After you’ve identified the core audience for your product, sending them personalised postcards can be a great tactic to make the customers feel important and valued.
Sending your loyal customers and high-value targets associated delighters like a personalized discount, or free tickets to the event can be a great way to build rapport
Rather than send a single postcard, send a series of 3-4 cards, since there is a greater chance the customers will remember you.
An innocuous way to showcase your brand, brochures can be kept in local dispensaries, clinics, supermarkets and theaters. Interested people can pick up a copy and browse through the pages. It doesn’t entail a huge cost, and can end up igniting interest of new leads above and beyond your target audience, who then visit your event.
It goes without saying that trade shows are costly affairs.
It’s critical to have a solid plan and the right tools at hand to make sure to get the most out of your dollars spent.
Combining some of the tools we’ve talked about can help you plan and execute your event efficiently.