Mailing a compelling offer to a pre-show attendee list is a technique top-caliber trade-show exhibitors use prior to attending any show.
Before you write one word of your offer, you need to:
- Define your goals
- Identify your audience
Generally, your audience will fall into two categories: decision-makers and referrers. You can market to both effectively–and achieve profits from both–but you must alter your targeting techniques for each of these audiences.
Let’s examine how to attract the decision-makers.
The first step is to sort your pre-show mailing list by title, and only mail to those titles that are most likely to be decision-makers. There is no hard-and-fast rule for what that magic title will be; it depends on your business. Don’t let somebody in the back office or a rookie salesperson merely mail to all the CEO’s; they may not even visit the exhibit hall! You need to oversee this process yourself. This is where it is important to set a budget and stick to it. A large trade show might have 5,000 or more attendees; your candidates might number at most 1,000 of these. By culling through the pre-show list by title, you greatly improve your odds of finding the right person.
Plus, you reduce the number of people swinging by your booth that are no more than tire-kickers at best.
Next, make sure you promote something for free, in your campaign. This is the heart of your offer. Remember, right now we are discussing what to offer the decision-makers. There are two broad types of offers: First, a chance to win a physical product or a premium (like a set of golf clubs), via a drawing; Second, a guaranteed gift in exchange for the person’s time.
Which of these two offers is better to attract your decision-maker? It depends on your staff, your product or service, and the nature of traffic at your show.
The chance to win is a bit easier on staff, will generally secure you more booth traffic, but will also almost guarantee you more tire-kickers. If you are willing to wade through and pre-qualify a greater number of prospects either at show-site or post-show, then this can be a very powerful technique.
Depending on what product or service you market, you may be able to offer a giveaway that is very useful for your target audience. If you sell to graphic artists, a chance to win $1,000 worth of software for their own personal use may just bring prospects to you in droves. A set of $1,000 golf-clubs, targeting the same audience, may only supply you with hang-abouts and actually fewer of your desired candidates.
If your group of decision-makers is more generic, then the appropriate choice for the chance to win may be the chance at the golf clubs or the vacation getaway for two.
Remember, offering something for free is the key here. It must be free, regardless of the offer. You’ll want to use that word free prominently in your offer copy.
The guaranteed gift is really a much stronger B-to-B pull, and so although you will get less response from this, you will find more qualified prospects. Here you need to offer your decision-maker a gift that is related to your product, and promotes your unique solution to her problem. Check to see that your offer involves the following:
- What she will receive (for free).
- What she needs to do.
- How long she’ll be at your booth–5-10 minutes is about right.
- The names of one or two salespeople for her to talk to at your booth. Even if you have ten, this personal touch makes the invitation more appealing and increases the likelihood of your prospecting stopping by.
- Your booth number–yes, exhibitors sometimes forget this important tidbit.
If you are casting a wider net and want to attract referrers as well as decision makers, different techniques are required. We’ll cover those in our third article on how to pre-promote your trade show.
Remember: People (customers and employees) + Package (your Face to the Customer) + Brand (who you are) = Marketing Success.