What do tradeshows and events do better than any other form of media? They bring buyers and sellers together in a totally relevant context—an environment built specially for learning, for networking, and for commerce. They generate ROI. This year's Folio: Show is no exception. Because they're so valuable, it's critical as a seller to maximize the time you have at an event. It's essential to have conversations with as many prospects as possible and to put yourself on the radar screens of potential buyers even if you connect directly.
We asked Access Intelligence's own Jenn Heinold, SVP of events, for her best pointers and tips. Jenn's so good at helping exhibitors and sponsors produce ROI at her events, she's known as "Lead-Gen Jenn."
Folio: What are the best ways for sponsors and exhibitors to get strong ROI at live events?
Lead-Gen Jenn: Trade shows are no longer an “If you build it, they will come” proposition. They require pre-planning and pre-event promotion to build buzz and drive traffic to your booth. Take a step back and think about ways you can promote your presence pre-event through advertising, social media, your web site and direct marketing.
Be sure to have a strategy for what you will be doing on-site. What materials will you be handing out? Who will be working the booth and how will they be trained? What customers and prospects are on your must-see list and can you schedule specific times with them?
Folio: What are the top three must-do strategies for exhibitors and sponsors to generate conversations and produce leads?
- Do some pre-event marketing—invite your prospects to the show.
- Be personable! Do a giveaway from your booth, or simply engage with attendees as they walk by.
- Get outside of your booth – participate in the dinners, fitness runs, networking activities the show has to offer; then invite your new friends to visit your booth!
Folio: What are the “must-not-do’s?”
Lead-Gen Jenn: My biggest pet peeve is seeing someone hunched over their phone, laptop, or newspaper in the far back corner of their booth! Shows are all about connections—and in order to do that you’ve got to be the one with a smile on your face and hand extended.
Folio: What’s the most successful lead-gen strategy you’ve ever seen?
Lead-Gen Jenn: I thought Wright's Media did a wonderful job last year with the Folio: Show’s mobile app passport program. It encouraged attendees to experience all the event had to offer, and had a competitive leaderboard with prize giveaways!
I also love any lead-gen programs tied to content—hosting a session is a great way to nurture organic leads. The attendees self-qualify by showing interest in your product/offering and consuming your message, so they are warmed up and ready for follow-up action.
Folio: What do you counsel exhibitors and sponsors to do post show to ensure that a fishbowl full of business cards or a spreadsheet with attendees converts into some closed business?
Lead-Gen Jenn: Ask questions and take good notes of your conversation on-site. Trade shows work to make the connections and show off your product, but the key in closing business is to make your follow-up personal, relevant and timely.
Folio: Tell us about what the Folio: Show is doing to ensure meaningful interaction between buyer and seller, and lead generation overall at the show.
Lead-Gen Jenn: The first step in a meaningful interaction is to get the right people in the room. And for the Folio: Show, that means building a best-in-class conference program specifically for your target prospects: the C-Suite, event professionals, production, audience development, publishers, and editorial. We then invest in our own integrated-marketing campaign to drive attendance at the event, while leveraging our Folio: magazine audience and marketing channels.
Folio: What’s new for 2016?
Lead-Gen Jenn: I am most excited about our use of Feathr for Folio: Show 2016. Feathr is a marketing technology tool that enables us to create customized micro-sites for all of our exhibitors about the Folio: Show. The site is covered in your branding, so it establishes your company as a thought leader in the Folio: marketplace, while also being a great tool you can use to invite prospective customers to the event.