By John Corrigan
Whose hand do you plan on shaking at the next conference or trade show you attend?
Finding the right hands to shake at events starts with knowing who is going to be there. Attendee lists are few and far between, but they are what will set you and your team apart. Gone are the days of “corporate tourism” when conferences and trade shows were often treated as paid vacations. Teams now must arrive at events thoroughly prepared with a coordinated and ambitious plan of attack.
Obtaining an attendee list is only the first step. Once you get your hands on some form of the list—be it from the event organizer or from SummitSync—it’s critical to leverage it into handshakes and meaningful opportunities for your team’s success. Here are our six attendee list best practices:
1. Match it Against Your CRM
Running an attendee list against the contacts in your CRM provides useful insight into the top tier prospects and leads that you should be reaching out to before the big event. Armed with this information, you can also better understand which sales team members to send to the event by having a better picture of who has the most prospects or leads going to the show.
2. Craft a Reach-Out Strategy
Once you first understand which of your prospects and leads are attending the show, the next step is crafting a compelling reach out strategy.
For Tier A prospects, a good route is sending a personalized email where you discuss how you can solve their problems and express your desire for a meeting at the show. This is a particularly fruitful strategy for a sales team member that already has a connection to, or has previously met with, the prospect.
For lower tier prospects that you maybe don’t want to devote as much human-to-human time to, a drip campaign leading up to the event is often successful in promoting awareness and potentially a meeting. Paid advertising is another option for lower tier prospects, particularly when used to schedule meetings directly with your team during the event (more on this later).
Don’t forget that as the big event draws near, email inboxes tend to explode. Breakthrough the clutter of email and differentiate yourself by actually picking up the phone and calling people directly—a phone call is a strong interim between the digital and real-world.
Lastly, don’t forget about LinkedIn! Having your sales teams use LinkedIn to individually reach out to prospects before the event is highly valuable, as the prospect places a name with a face before the event. For more LinkedIn best practices, refer to our recent blog post.
3. Run Digital Ads
Have a networking event you’re hosting at the conference? Giving away a free pass before the show? Whatever your pre-show strategy is, you can and should run social ads targeted at the attendee list.
Due to the B2B nature of trade show attendee lists, Facebook often doesn’t materialize high quality matches when trying to run ads. However, if you have the budget, do some testing. Be sure to follow these Facebook advertising best practices:
- If you are using location-based targeting, for example “United States,” make sure to also select the option “people who live in this location.”
- Target the ages of your ideal prospects.
- For large events, you can target specific interests like “SXSW” and “Cannes Lions.” (Each have about 1,000,000 people per group).
- For partner events like Marketo’s Marketing Nation, Hubspot Inbound, or Dreamforce, you can target the platform name as interests. This is especially helpful for targeting those who are in sales and marketing roles, as they’re the ones interacting with the platforms.
An Adwords campaign on Google is another strong option, as is targeting event-based keywords. Here at SummitSync, we’ve previously done some digging into the best times to start pre-show PPC campaigns. Our research revealed that search results start to spike six to eight weeks before the event and they surge about two to three weeks before the event. So, get in the ad game early to save money.
4. Create a Twitter List
One of the most underused social media hacks for events are Twitter lists. Simply add all of your top prospects into a locked list on Twitter before the event. Then, leading up to the event, you can like your prospects’ posts and tweet at them to heighten your presence on the trade show floor. They’re also extremely beneficial in post-show follow-up by ensuring you don’t forget to keep interacting with these prospects.
5. Social Selling Against the List
Social selling is a powerful tactic when it comes to pre-show outreach as it helps people put a face with a name—hopefully a face they’ll be seeing later. Depending on your size, have your sales and marketing teams reach out to prospects before the event as well as to others who are actively posting and engaging online about the event.
Be sure that when you’re using social selling against an attendee list that you begin by providing value, instead of shifting the interaction directly into a sales pitch. I can’t tell you how many people I block every week from a “connection” that I accept and who then immediately begin pitching me. Social selling is a bit of an art, so here are some more advanced social media tips your team can use to schedule meetings.
6. Send Prospects a Physical Mailer
Direct mail is making a comeback and your marketing team should definitely take advantage of this. For ExhibitorLive this year, I was sent two physical pieces of mail before the event by two sponsors—one was about a party they were throwing and the other about visiting a booth.
The attendee list you obtain from an organizer may have home address information, the HQ address, or no address. This is less of a problem, as there are services that can find addresses, especially for businesses.
When it comes to direct mail, there are two distinct approaches available:
- Batch and Blast: Send a mailer to everyone on the attendee list to try and drive traffic to your booth. This strategy works well if you have a giveaway at your booth. Have people return the flier in exchange for X.
- Hyper-targeted: This strategy works well if you’re hosting an event within an event or are focused on meeting with decision makers. If you go this route, you should focus on sending a higher end mailer that provides value. You can even think of sending a handwritten card or tasteful gift.
How Will You Leverage the Attendee List to Drive Handshakes and Maximize ROI at Your Next Conference or Trade Show?
By integrating these six best practices into your pre-show sales and marketing efforts, you not only can drive productive handshakes and meetings, but you can also differentiate your team from the pack with thoughtful and deliberate strategies for success. To incorporate these tips into your overall pre-show marketing strategy, take a look at our recent post on pre-trade show marketing success.
Pssst…want to know how other B2B marketers are using trade shows to surpass revenue goals? Download the free report now!