One tool in your overflowing toolbox useful toward generating leads is the expo. Here’s the thing, they are tricky because there are so many variables that can affect the goal, which is always to walk away with a sheet of leads with all of the contact information complete and even better, appointments scheduled on your calendar.
The variables mentioned above are many. Some can be investigated and somewhat controlled, but there will always be others that emerge the day of the event that seem to throw the proverbial monkey wrench into the best laid plans. The first two steps then are to anticipate all of the variables you can and be as prepared as possible to attack the event with a vengeance. Also, be ready to punt when the surprises arrive. And they will arrive.
To help you understand this process from start to finish, we break this down into three categories of preparation: Before the expo; At the expo; and After the expo wraps up. Each stage is critically important to success with as few balls dropped as possible. As you probably know, involvement in these expos can be extremely expensive so to bring your cost per lead down as low as possible, you want to gather as many quality leads as you can with the goal of converting as many to bona fide prospects and ultimately, clients.
Before the expo:
- If you have done your homework to investigate the audience at the expo, you will want to then learn from the organizers what your space will look like. Where will your booth or table be situated? Will you have access to electricity? Will the table be skirted? Will there be pole and drapes?
- If this is your first rodeo, you will want to determine a way to set your display apart from the others. This does not necessarily mean a $10,000 trade show display. It could be spectacular lighting, or costumed characters, booth babes, an interactive activity or a mechanized display of some sort. Brainstorm this with your staff and determine what that will be.
- Find out if you can secure a list of the attendees before the show and the sooner the better. If you can secure a mailing list with emails, this is optimum. You may then send each an introduction shock and awe package with a special gift offer for visiting your booth. If only emails are supplied, use an emailed version. The list will also be a good way to cross reference leads you contacted beforehand and made a connection with at the event.
- Determine the flow of the traffic with a floorplan of all of the booths. This will help you plan your display and learn if there are natural attraction getters nearby. Are you near the rest rooms? Are you near the hospitality bar? Where will your competitors be stationed?
- Prepare a social media strategy if the event is being promoted that way? Be sure you like the page and promote your free gift for visitors through updates on their events page. You may even wish to run a campaign targeting those who have liked that events page with frequent updates of how you are preparing to knock everyone out of the water with your booth and offers.
- Remove any chairs from your booth area. Be sure none of your staff is sitting and looking at cell phones while working at the booth. They should be alert, smiling, friendly and engaging. Use a U-shaped booth to invite people in rather than having the chairs behind the table.
During the expo:
- When you are set up, create a strategy to attract the passersby. Have staffers with clipboards taking a survey, offering a free picture with the characters or booth babes, or a raffle item that is pertinent to the audience.
- If possible, offer a free session to attendees right at the event. Schedule them in 20-minute increments in a hospitality room nearby.
- Give value with your give-away items. Perhaps a copy of your free book or a free call with you afterwards in exchange for their contact information.
- Do not have too many choices of engagement. Fewer powerful calls to action or engagement opportunities are better than too many. It can get confusing. No more than three different options. You then can offer this, this or this choice (rather than do you want this?; which canget a finalizing NO answer.
After the expo:
Here is where the real work begins. Your leads are the gold you worked so hard to mine. Take the time to wring all of the juice from them.
- If you have access to borrowing a celebrity such as one of the keynote speakers at the conference or another well-known, highly respected person, ask him or her to sign off on a letter that you will send to the entire list you obtained prior to the conference. Follow it up with two others with testimonials from happy clients.
- Send a thank you note to every lead you met and be sure to fulfill any take away items you promised such as books mailed, tips, promised contacts, adds to the newsletter list, etc.
- For those who agreed to free strategy sessions, have your staff call first thing the next business day to set up those calls.
- Prepare a drip sequence directed to those at the conference and record videos to drop in that will help them become better acquainted with who you are and what you can do for them.
- Provide the names and phone numbers of everyone to your sales staff for follow up calls offering free strategy sessions to those who did not sign up for them.
Expos can be a great source of brand recognition too. Leads and appointments are the low hanging fruit but with hard work, the other attendees can become your next level of prospects to work for weeks and months ahead.