By Al Torres
Does pre-trade show collaboration between sales and marketing teams lead to greater returns?
That was one of the questions we set out to answer in a recent survey of over three hundred B2B marketers. The answer was a resounding yes, but we wanted to understand exactly what these teams were doing differently, especially when it came to pre-trade show marketing.
Here are the top five tips for using pre-trade show marketing that help you get the one-to-one meetings your team needs to drive real revenue from your conference and trade show marketing efforts.
1. Get the A-List
All good pre-show marketing starts with understanding which prospects and current clients are attending the event. This requires you to secure the attendee list. Previously, the only way to secure attendee lists was to purchase an exorbitant event sponsorship or booth space from the event organizer. Many times, this list is given without names or contact information a mere two weeks before the big event. Now, there are multiple ways to find out who is going to be at an event:
- Scan the Event Hashtag. Recently our co-founder Al wrote about how teams can use event hashtags to drive real results at conferences and trade shows.
- Predicted Lists of Attendees. SummitSync produces predicted lists of attendees using its machine-learning algorithm that are generated 6–8 weeks before and are continuously updated leading up to the big event.
- The Event Website and App. For the stealthy, often times the event website will provide enough information to get your prospecting started. Take advantage of the attendee prospectus, their sponsor list, and the event app. Often times event apps are locked, but sometimes you’ll find one where you can view all of the attendees who have given public permission!
2. Compare the List of Attendees to Your CRM
Revenue-growth companies don’t just obtain an attendee list and start running ads against it. They take the time to compare the list of attendees to the contacts in their CRM. This gives them a chance to rank prospects who are attending. We like to break our rankings down into three tiers:
- Tier A: They’re in our CRM and we’ve been actively engaged with them or we have current efforts to get their attention.
- Tier B: They’re in our CRM but are pretty cold, or we believe they could be a decent fit.
- Tier C: We’ve never heard of them and don’t believe they’d be a good fit.
Some tools can do this categorization process for you, but you can always run this manually as well. Once you have the attendees ranked according to tiers, you can strategize for each.
3. Define Tactics for Each Tier
Once you’ve spent the time ranking your prospects, develop the strategy and tactics you’re going to use to market to each tier. While every prospect is going to have different peeves and motivators, we’ve found a few pre-show marketing tactics that have seen notable success across the board.
- Divide and Conquer. First things first, we target all attendees with paid social campaigns and direct them to a custom landing page. If we’re attending, the page will feature our presence at the event with a clear call to action to schedule meetings with us directly. If we aren’t attending, we will show how we’re helping other event sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees schedule and manage more meetings.
- Write Everything Down. There’s a lot to remember, and you won’t remember everything by relying on your “steel trap.” Take no chances and write everything down. The more information you have, the easier it will be for your sales and marketing teams to work together within the same goals.
- Tier A Gets Unique Strategy. Account owners will reach out one-on-one with their assigned Tier A prospects. This allows for account owners to design personalized reach out strategies that will increase the likelihood of a response. We love personalization over here so if you see us follow you on Twitter, we’re probably going to send you a little something like this:
These emails get an astounding 68% open rate and a 9.5% response rate. That’s killer. While the emails do take a lot of research and time to complete, their worth is undeniable.
4. Execute and Track All Pre-Show Sales and Marketing Efforts
Once everything is documented and prospects are delegated, it’s time to execute.
- Anticipate the Search Wave. Your execution strategy begins a minimum of six to eight weeks before the event. Why? Research shows that’s the window of time search traffic for event keywords rises. Take advantage of this increase by setting your ads up earlier and throughout the rise while everyone’s beginning to think about the event.
- Schedule Frequent Check-ins. In the final two months before the event, hold weekly check-in meetings with both the sales and marketing teams to ensure everything is going according to plan. When you start well enough ahead of time, tweaks and mistakes can be managed with plenty of time to think it through and make the best decision. Heck, you may even have time to A/B test some creative or copy in the weeks leading up to make your next event reach-out even smarter.
- Track. Track. Track. Successful execution requires the right tracking resources to ensure you get credit for all your hard work. This includes spreadsheets, Google docs, meeting automation software, or whatever gets the job done for your team.
5. Don’t Set It and Forget It
When a prospect or client books a meeting with your team, that is a huge moment. In our research, 82% of survey participants believe in-person meetings are important in helping move customers and prospects through the buyer’s journey faster or more successfully.
With that level of confidence, you would think people would always follow up with their prospects before the event. Unfortunately, failing to follow through on a scheduled meeting with a prospect before the event is one of the biggest mistakes we consistently see folks make.
If you don’t follow through, why take a swing in the first place? Let’s say you started your pre-show marketing six to eight weeks before an event and someone schedules a meeting right off the bat. That’s great! But the chances they’re going to remember you and prioritize your meeting is slim. Don’t put that kind of faith in a person you’ve never met before. Instead, take charge of the situation and keep them interested. Time at conferences and trade shows is incredibly scarce so make them feel like you value theirs. It doesn’t take much, you just have to make the effort.
- Send prospects and current clients another personal email to confirm your meeting.
- Take your follow through a step further with a gift that would improve their event experience. Ex: a gift card to a restaurant near the event.
- If you’re on more personal terms, shoot your prospect or client a text to reach them directly and stand out from their noisy inbox.
The key to each of these methods is personalization. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you don’t simply set the meeting and let the Google calendar reminder automate a cookie cutter follow through.
That Brings Us to the Big Event
We hope you found these pre-show marketing tips valuable as you prepare for successful meetings.
For more in-depth recommendations and answers to questions like, “Are companies that report revenue growth doing something different when it comes to trade shows?”, don’t forget to download our complete B2B Trade Show Marketing Benchmark Report.