5 Top Trade Show Tips

Trade shows continue to be an essential part of a strong integrated marketing strategy. Yes, trade shows are great way to network and schmooze with your target audience. And yes, face-to-face contact is a prime opportunity to build your client base and foster brand recognition within your industry. We also all know your mailing list has the potential to be your company’s most valuable marketing asset. Pulling off a successful trade show can fill your sales funnel for years to come.

The key to achieving all of the aforementioned goals, of course, is to stand out from your competitors in the next booth.

6 Top Trade Show Tips: Fill Your Sales Funnel

Here are 5 top trade show tips to make your booth rock:

1. Location, location, location. You know the old joke—and it’s never more true than at a trade show. Pick the most valuable real estate your budget allows to ensure you’re not hidden away in some remote corner.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a bigger booth, look for a corner or end location at the front, as near the entrance as possible. Those spots go fast, so be sure to book your booth early. Bigger booths cost extra, but prime locations are often billed at the same price as that lonely corner way in the back or the unfortunate table of flyers sandwiched between high-tech circus tents.

2. About that circus tent. Bright colors stimulate the imagination. If you’ve ever walked past a sad little table with a navy tablecloth and a flat stack of brochures as the only decoration, you know just how unappealing that is. Use your imagination and the vertical space above your booth to make magic in even a small space.

3. Win at swag. Pick something unique that everybody will hang on to. Pens are great, but they get lost, and your customers will collect two dozen. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just clever—and in line with your products, services and branding whenever possible. Pick your promotional items carefully and go for something both unusual and memorable.

4. Offer snacks. Trade shows mean a long, exhausting day, and the restaurant might seem ten miles away to a weary attendee. Snacks and drinks are a welcome respite, and will bring people in who might have walked past. Candy is popular, but a more interesting choice might be freshly popped popcorn or roasted-on-the-site nuts. Never underestimate the power of smell to draw people in.

5. Make your booth interactive. It’s the digital age, so own it. Develop an interactive app that highlights your business or host a giveaway. Encourage people to sign up for your mailing list by giving them a chance to win something awesome. If you’re at the right trade show, it’s already packed with pre-qualified prospects. Invest in one big prize and plenty of smaller prizes to keep people interested and engaged. Announce winners using your brand new mailing list, while the show is still going on…but don’t forget to announce the winner over the loudspeaker as well, as it will bring more people to your booth.

Setting up a successful trade show is a lot of work, but most marketers agree it’s worth the extra effort. Overwhelmed with the details of your next exhibition? Contact Cultivate for a trade show strategy that will ensure success and fill your sales pipeline.


How Effective Is Your Sales Pipeline?

Many businesses still look to their sales team to find leads and to create a pipeline for sales. But in today’s marketplace, that’s not realistic. Why? Customers simply do not respond to traditional sales and marketing methods. Nowadays, salespeople are kept at arm’s length. People don’t want to deal with intrusive phone calls or office visits.

Marketing in today’s digital world needs to be taking the LEAD (pun intended) in developing a pipeline for sales. via Robert Wendt | Cultivate Communications If you’re one of those businesses still relying on your sales team to measure the effectiveness of your pipeline, they’re probably telling you something like this:

  • “It’s coming.”
  • “Just talked to them last week.”
  • “They said they need more time.”

Sound familiar? If this is how your sales pipeline works, it’s no wonder you don’t sleep at night.

So what can you do differently?

Marketing in today’s digital world needs to be taking the LEAD (pun intended) in developing a pipeline for sales. Marketing’s ability to CREATE AWARENESS for a product or service that matches a customer’s needs is a critical first step.

Customer awareness of your product or service can be achieved through a blend of traditional methods — like direct mail and trade shows — but it continues with digital marketing methods — like display advertising or pay-per-click programs, which strategically match your advertising efforts to buyers’ search behavior.

As buyers narrow their choices and begin to consider YOUR product or service, your marketing must reinforce the features and benefits that best match the buyer’s needs. Many times, this is done through webinars, demos, or case studies. You need to be online — with multiple customer touch points — because most buying decisions start on the web. In fact, 61% of global Internet users say they research a product online before they buy (Source: Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance, 2012).

What is important with online marketing is the ability to measure your prospects’ engagement with your marketing efforts to determine what qualifies those leads to be moved into your sales pipeline. (Learn how to qualify your leads in “Lead-Scoring: The Path to Quicker Sales.”) It’s a smart use of your time, as companies with mature lead-generation and management practices have a 9.3% higher sales quota achievement rate (Source: CSO Insights).

If you aren’t using today’s marketing automation tools to MEASURE your prospective buyers’ interactions with your marketing efforts, you’re leaving leads that are “ripe for the picking” to be snatched up by your competitors who are using today’s technologies to give themselves the upper hand. More and more companies are getting onboard: By 2015, the adoption of marketing automation technology is expected to increase by 50% (Source: Sirius Decisions, 2012).

Using automation to drive your marketing efforts provides you with two valuable pieces of information that can have a HUGE impact on the effectiveness of your sales pipeline:

1. You get a snapshot of the level of interest the buyer has in your product or service. This is accomplished by monitoring how the buyer is interacting with your marketing. Are they coming to your website? Reading your blogs? Attending your webinars? How and what they are doing gives you a better understanding of their level of interest.

As buyers get closer to making a decision, their activity will increase and they often spend time looking at more detailed material that defines the specifics of your product or service.

2. Marketing automation technology provides you with detailed data on what prospective buyers are viewing and immersing themselves in (i.e., a glimpse of what problem they are trying to solve). An owner might view a problem one way and be interested in higher-level, more conceptual information. A manager might be interested in the technical components of what your product or service offers to solve the same problem. Understanding the contextual aspects of a buyer makes a more effective sales pipeline because when that lead is provided to your sales team, you’ve already determined that the person is close to making a decision. This means they probably don’t need more time to research other options and that they are now more likely to be willing to talk to a salesperson to resolve any unanswered questions.

Yes, these two pieces of information are highly valuable to your sales team so they can quickly match a prospective buyer’s need to the right product or service — making the likelihood of completing the sale that much higher. And it’s marketing technology that empowers your sales and your marketing teams with the data and tools they need to convert leads to sales.

Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research Report)

Not sure where to begin? Click here to get a list of common marketing channels, along with an overview of which elements of measurable marketing are KEY to each approach. Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed to ensure you get my upcoming article on what good marketing metrics mean to a CEO. You can also find me on LinkedIn;  we can talk more about measurable marketing.

I don’t know about you, but that kind of sales pipeline would surely help me sleep better at night!

Lead-Scoring: The Path to Quicker Sales

Developing a lead-generation program — complete with lead-scoring — allows you to measure results. By ranking your prospects, your sales force can also see exactly where to spend their time . . . and who should be put on the back burner or eventually “thinned out.”

{The Path to Quicker Sales} Refining your sales process so your team can work on leads that have been qualified by lead-scoring increases your closing rates and creates more predictability for your sales pipeline.Refining your sales process so your team can work on leads that have been qualified by lead-scoring increases your closing rates and creates more predictability for your sales pipeline.

As you collect data about potential clients, applying scoring metrics to ensure they are a qualified lead. This should be based on, among other things:

  • The person’s role in the company
  • How qualified and empowered the person is to make a decision
  • Where the prospect is within the buying cycle
  • Their level of engagement with you and your company

Your best prospects usually fit a profile or can be categorized using buyer personas. If you look for the key attributes of existing clients, you can then identify those attributes in your prospect list and you’ll suddenly reveal those prospects in your pipeline who have the greatest potential for conversion to sales. Those people get a higher lead score than the folks who don’t fit the profile. Work with your sales team to develop buyer personas; they often easily see attributes that can’t be easily identified or defined by data alone.

As you develop a lead-generation program, there are two kinds of data you need to include:

  • Direct data – This is data that you have acquired either through the sales process, list acquisition, or engagement (for example: name, address, title/position, and industry). It can be attained directly from the client or through research. This gives you a peek into the person’s decision-making role in the company.
  • Indirect data – This is data that you can attain using marketing automation software to measure the interactions your clients are having with your website. People’s responses to emails, eBooks, webinars, and events are all valuable pieces of information that will indicate their level of engagement with your company and their area of interest. These two pieces of information will help clue you in as to where they are in the buying cycle.

Now your sales team can focus on those leads that have the just the right position, level of interest, and authority to buy. All you need then is the right timing to convert them to a sale. Lead-scoring puts you in the driver’s seat.

Measurable marketing is essential in today’s competitive marketplace.

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P.S. If you’d like help with your business’s lead-scoring process,
shoot me an email or connect with me on LinkedIn.