23 - Grow Live - Countdown to Tradeshow Season.jpg

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is behind us and we look to hit the ground running with our personal and professional resolutions. You’re feeling pretty good about the strategic plans you are setting in place. And, you’re ready to make things happen.

The only problem is you forgot all about all the industry trade shows that are right around the corner! No worries. Matt Johnson and Renia Carsillo are here with actionable tips that can help make your next trade show a success.

Watch, listen or read now and learn more about:

  • Before anything else you need to have a persona story
  • Setting SMART goals to track and prove success
  • Why great staff can overcome a lousy booth
  • Why you should be using a project management tool start to finish
  • Using email automation to keep leads warm
“Make sure everyone understands the goals of your tradeshow event,” —Matt Johnson, CMO & Managing Partner at SMS

Check out these additional resources:

Today’s call to action: What do you do to prepare for tradeshow season? Share your answers in the comments below to win some cool swag!

Don’t forget to visit us next week when Safety Marketing Service’s very own Digital Producer Lief Thomason joins us on the show. Together, they discuss all that they learned over the past 23 episodes.  You won’t want to miss it!

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Read the Grow Live transcript... 

 

Renia:

In this episode of Grow Live, you'll get nine actionable tips for how to prepare for your next trade show. Whether you're a little behind for the spring season, or preparing for NSC in September.

Matt:

Stick around after the show, we'll give you a great downloadable resource that'll help you get this thing kick-started in style.

Renia:

Welcome back to Grow Live, everybody. I am Renia, Director of Digital Strategy here at SMS, and I am finally back in studio with Matt Johnson.

Matt:

What's up?

Renia:

Our CMO and Managing Partner, and it's been a few weeks since we've been together.

Matt:

It's been nice having a little break for Christmas, but there's only so much assembly of toys that one man can handle.

Renia:

Yeah, I don't know if you guys know this or not, but Matt has four kids at home. So, how many plastic things did you have to put together over the last couple of days?

Matt:

All of the plastic things. I think all the plastic things.

Renia:

All of the plastic things in the whole world.

Matt:

Lots of battery runs to the store, little screwdrivers that aren't quite the right size, and my handy pocket knife always is helpful as well.

Renia:

We're just gonna call you like Swiss Army Matt, like MacGyver Matt.

Matt:

It's a fun time.

Renia:

This is our first episode of 2018. I've been saying 2017 all day long, so I got it right this time.

Matt:

2018 in the house.

Renia:

We are really excited, because this is our 23rd show, which means next week we'll be able to invite Lief back to talk to you about what we've learned. Believe it or not, we've been doing these for half a year, can you believe it?

Matt:

No. It does not feel like that.

Renia:

Yeah, it's pretty exciting. We kind of have to take a quick step into the future this week, because believe it or not, the first week of January means that it's trade show season. It's time to start getting ready, right?

Matt:

Right before we came on I was asking you, "Does that mean that I need to have my plan ready for my trade shows this year, my SMS plan," and you said, "Well, you should've had it ready five months ago." Uh, whoops.

Renia:

Yeah, so that would be great. We've talked a lot about strategic planning, and hopefully in your strategic planning you were thinking about your upcoming trade shows and events, because that spring season really will be on us before you know it. But never fear, because if you haven't started yet, or if you're just thinking about getting started there are actually nine things that you can do, right? We said like eight or nine things that they can do right now to get started and get going. So you want to share some of those with them today?

Matt:

Yeah, so this is as much for me, as it for our audience out there who is just getting started. So, I got the budget ready, I know what shows I'm going to, but maybe I haven't put together as thoughtful of a plan as I should have by now. So, these are some steps that we can take to start. So, the number one thing-

Renia:

Wait, wait! We got to ask them a question first.

Matt:

Okay.

Renia:

So, we actually are having a new live show. We promised you when we started that we are going to be teaching you guys just as we're learning, and one of the things that is one of our goals for the show for 2018 is to get more interactions during the show, and more comments and things afterwards.

Matt:

Yes, please.

Renia:

So, we're implementing a new segment this week, if you will, where we're gonna ask you a question at the beginning and at the end of the show, and you can answer it in the comments, and if you answer the question you'll actually be entered to win a little drawing that we're gonna talk about next week, that we're gonna do every week, and, if you leave us a-

Matt:

I like it. How much is this costing me though?

Renia:

Don't worry about it, it's in the budget.

 

If you leave us a review on iTunes you'll also maybe be able to join us on the Nerd or the Ninja team.

Matt:

Awesome.

Renia:

That's all I'll say about that for right now.

Matt:

All right, perfect.

Renia:

All right, cool. So, what we want to ask you about right now is, how do you prepare for trade show season? What are your rituals or routines that you go through as a marketing manager, or as a sales manager to get ready? Because I used to be a speaker, March, April, September, October, those are the big trade show months, right? Believe it or not, it's time to hit the ground running on the planning for that.

Matt:

It is.

Renia:

So, we want to know what you guys are doing. So, if you can leave in the comments, if you're watching this on Facebook or YouTube, right below, and let us know what you do to get ready, and did you start six months ago, or are you like, "Oh, crap! It is time to start doing that!"

 

So, Matt, you want to tell them what they should maybe do when they're first starting out, and give them the first tip?

Matt:

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, guys, this is important, before you ever open up the Photoshop platform and start designing your beautiful booth, before you go purchase your trinkets, and your tchotchkes, as I like to call them, your giveaways, before you do any of that kind of stuff, I want you to stop and think about SMART goals. We talk a lot about SMART goals here, and the reason is because what gets measured gets done. And that's an important thing to remember is that your business, you need, as a marketer, you need to be able to prove that what you're doing is creating a measurable return on the investment that you're spending on these booths.

 

I know some of you, if you're maybe a larger supplier, or larger distributor out there, your booths can get pretty elaborate at times, and there's not a small amount of dollars that are put into that production of that booth, and all of the samples, the giveaways, the design, the entire production of it. There's quite a substantial investment. So the question is, what is your objectives for this trade show? How many touches are you looking to make? How many meetings are you looking to book? How many marketing qualified leads are you looking to convert at your booth?

 

These are all examples of SMART goals that you can set and before you begin the planning process, Renia, it's important that you, as a team, agree on what is important, and what is also realistic. And then, as a team, once you have those goals you can begin building out the plan around those goals, as opposed to kind of saying, "Oh, by the way, Boss, guess what? We had 50 leads from the show," that way you have something that you can measure.

Renia:

That's so important, and I love that, Matt. Because I have been on the working a trade show booth side of things a lot, but I'd never been on the production side until I came to work with SMS. And man, you guys know it, if you're a marketing manager out there, some of those booths cost more than my house.

Matt:

Yes, they can. Yeah, they can, and that really is the thing, because I also look at it from a bit of an ownership perspective. I've been in both positions, both as the Managing Partner here at SMS, and closely related to ownership at Accuform side and so I can understand the ownership's perspective and the executive leadership's perspective. Okay, great, the booth is beautiful, but what is it getting me? What am I getting for my $50, $75, $80 grand investment? So you have to be able to, as a marketing manager be able to explain what the purpose is, and I think when you go to present your plan for your booth that should include these SMART goals.

Renia:

Yeah, absolutely. Plus, if you set up a meeting with your boss where you have SMART goals for the event, you're gonna look like a rock star.

Matt:

That's right, you will.

Renia:

So, once you've figured out what those goals are, there's an R in SMART, which stands for, what does "R" stand for?

Matt:

Hmm?

Renia:

What does the "R" in SMART stand for?

Matt:

Realistic?

Renia:

Yeah, realistic. So our tip number two-

Matt:

I thought you were asking them.

Renia:

Oh, well they can't really talk to me back right now.

Matt:

They can. It's on Facebook Live.

Renia:

Well, okay. They can comment, but I don't have any-

Matt:

I'm just messing with you.

Renia:

It's so much easier when he's here. He picks on me and that makes it easier. All right, so-

Matt:

So yes, realistic.

Renia:

So realistic, when you're setting a SMART goal you need to look at what resources you have. For instance, if you have four people attending a show, you probably shouldn't have a huge booth with a lot of open floor space, right?

Matt:

Right, because how are you going to be able to cover that area?

Renia:

Right, how are you going to handle it? So, can we talk a little bit about what resources they'll have, what do they need to be looking at to make sure they're designing something that makes sense for what they have?

Matt:

Right, so first of all, you should have an idea of your total budget. And that should include everything from the samples that you need to have on hand, to the graphic design, to the rental if you're going to be doing a rental, or the purchase of a booth. Then there's ... I'm not even going to get into the couple dozen other small little line items that you're going to be charged, but you guys know it if you've done any events out there at a convention hall, that there are all kinds of handling fees and the rental of the space itself, of course, the software, so you have to take into account all of those things.

 

But some of the things you may not think about are, the team that you have and your team that is in the booth is as important as the booth itself, because really nothing happens apart from human interaction. This is what the event is all about. So, you want to make sure that you pick out a team that is good at engaging with prospects and customers on the show floor. Then making sure that you have enough staff to cover the size of the booth that you have, but on the flip side, if you are overstaffed that can be obnoxious as well, and that can create an environment that is intimidating to your prospects who are coming and visiting.

 

One of the things I see a lot, Renia, is a fact of resources, is over resourcing in the staff department. Because I think a lot of salespeople find it glamorous or attractive to be in the booth, and what happens is, if you have too many salespeople in the booth you become a turnoff. It looks like, if I'm coming in down the hallway or down the aisle way and I see your booth, and I see a bunch of these blue or red shirts, and they're outnumbering me, I feel like I'm walking into a den of wolves. So you don't want to be overstaffed.

Renia:

So when you're thinking about a trade show, I want you to think about approachable. I guess a sales army isn't really very approachable, is it?

Matt:

No. No, exactly.

Renia:

So, I would almost say, thinking about your staff that's going to be there is almost more important than the design. Because a not so great booth can be overcome by great staff, but it's really hard for bad staff to make even the best booth perform the way it needs to, right?

Matt:

Absolutely. The thing that you also need to have in mind is, what does the journey look like? And have that communicated well to the team in addition. They're not just there to sell products, they're not just there to talk to people. There should be some sort of actionable plan in the booth as well.

Renia:

Absolutely. So, I really want ... Matt talked about budgeting for staff and budgeting for real dollars, but you also want to budget for time. We're not just talking about the time when you're at the actual trade show working the booth. Obviously, I think a lot of companies know if they've got a lot of sales reps, they'll rotate them through shifts or whatever, but you need to be budgeting time before and after for the marketing team to do pre-show and post-show follow-up, and for your sales reps to do pre-show and post-show follow-up.

 

Because the number one thing that I see is, the whole sales team gets on a plane and goes to a show that they've paid six figures out of the company to be there, and then the whole team gets on a plane and comes back and they're like, "Oh, we've been gone for a week, so we have eight million emails to answer." And the show follow-up, if it happens, doesn't happen until three weeks later, and then where'd all that money go?

Matt:

I don't know, it disappeared.

Renia:

It just disappeared. All right. So, what's the next tip, Matt, once we've planned and set SMART goals?

Matt:

Well, the third one is to use a project management tool like a Trello, or a Basecamp. We use Basecamp here at SMS. We've tried a bunch of different ones. There's lots of good options out there obviously, depending on what you like, flexibility, less flexible tools, but basically what I'm getting at here, Renia, is, you have to list ... There's so much complexity in a trade show. You have to list out all of the steps leading up to the execution of the event. So there's the pre-show, there's the actual set-up of the booth, there's the 'at the booth' time, and then there's the post-show follow-up.

 

So all of these things need to be planned out in a project management tool before you actually begin executing your trade show event, and what this does is it makes sure that you don't miss anything. We often talk a lot about this idea of pilot-checklists, so like the airline industry, and they're all about checklists because if you skip one of these things, people could die. It's important, and of course we're not as dramatic here in the marketing world, but what you have to remember is that you cannot go on auto-pilot, you have to go through the motion of checking off each one of the tasks that are integral to executing a well-rounded trade show event.

Renia:

Yeah, and a good tool just make sure you're using it to track both your time and your expenses too. Because a trade show plan is like a wedding, if you're not tracking those little expenses to your budget, little like death by a thousand cuts, will eat up your budget.

Matt:

Yeah, that's a really good point. There's so many hidden costs in a big event like that, so it's important to track those, otherwise you'll get shut down next time you go to do your show, because your boss will be like, "Well, this costs twice as much as what you told me it was going to be." That's important to track.

Renia:

Cool. So, I think number four is my favorite. You want to tell them what tip number four is?

Matt:

Choose your call to action and design your strategy backwards from there. So yeah this, and what you're getting at here, Renia, is the idea of what is the ultimate action that you want your prospect to take in the booth? Do you want them to schedule a phone call with a sales rep? Do you want them to go and sign up for your email list? Do you want them to go and request a sample of your product? There's lots of different actions depending on what your goals are, but having that in mind before you plan out the booth is important, and then you can build, like reverse-engineer it from there. So how do I get somebody to the point where they're ready to talk to a sales rep? So there's lots of things that go into that.

Renia:

Yeah. I see a lot of booths that are just like kind of a global brand awareness thing, like they'll have the company name on them, and maybe a mission statement. Your assumption automatically is that brand awareness is what the goal is, but then they've got an army of salespeople working the booth trying to make sales. You can do a lot in your design if you think about what the call to action is first.

 

For instance, if you know you're getting people that don't really know you, but you want them to talk to a sales person, your booth can do a lot of the work of taking them on a journey before they talk to that person. Your booth, if it's designed properly, can tell a story for you. If brand awareness is your goal, you can have a selfie station and your booth can pull people in to help amplify that brand awareness out. But that doesn't happen by accident. That CTA, that what is the action that you want your persona to take whenever they walk by your booth, or come into your booth, or interact with your brand at that trade show, that's the foundation that you work your design back from.

Matt:

Sometimes you're looking to just build your subscriber list, and that will dictate the entire mode of your booth. If you just are looking to build your subscriber list, then your booth is going to be more inviting, it's going to be more open, it's going to be more of a party, maybe a giveaway, or a raffle or something like that, and it's going to be less sales-heavy.

Renia:

I actually think that building your email list and/or building your social following is a really awesome goal for a trade show booth. I think it's one of the best goals in modern marketing that you can use. Because it's really hard to hard sell someone on the trade show floor, but it's not that hard to get their email address, or to get them to follow you on Facebook, or use your hashtag. So you can do a lot that can be filled in later in your follow-up plan if that's your goal.

Matt:

I would say that is perfect, if, big if, you have number five.

Renia:

All right, what's number five?

Matt:

Because it's a perfect segue to this one, which is, to design a four to six week pre and post-show digital marketing campaign. One of the areas where I see most brands falling short in this area is not having the digital connected to the trade show. Sometimes you'll see one email go out, "Hey, we're going to be at the NSC show this year, come stop by booth 1400 and see us." What I'd like to see is a little more engagement in this area, so you know that your customers are going to be there. Kind of just stepping back about the purpose of these trade shows.

 

There's two things, one is that you're going to build relationships and maintain relationships that you have developed over time, and so that pre-show email should be directed towards those people who you already have relationships with, and let them know that you're going to be there, you'd love to see them, and possibly even schedule a meeting with them at that time as well. We want to make sure that we're getting our existing customers to come by the booth so we can engage with them there.

 

Then after the show, it's important for all of those new contacts that you've created at the show ... it's important to have a systematic lead follow-up email campaign, and this is best done through email automation, and there's lots of tools that can do that. So do you want to talk a little bit about what that looks like, Renia?

Renia:

Yeah, there's two pieces to this email automation. There's marketing pieces and sales pieces. So there's a marketing email workflow that's a little bit more general, that sends out to the list of prospects that you've gathered at the show, and is a little bit more global about your brand, but then there can be smaller workflows for individual salespeople that automatically send out to their particular prospects.

 

So say they're using a badge scanner, and they've used their scanner with their ID on it or whatever, they can have a little email funnel that goes out to their people. All of that can be automated if it's done in advance. It's very unlikely that when you're exhausted because you just got back from a trade show Sunday night, and at work Monday morning, that you're going to make that happen.

Matt:

I would just say that the purpose of doing this is so that you can get to a manageable number of leads to follow up with. Your sales team cannot handle 200, 500, 1000, marketing qualified leads. So I can't go chase down every person that came by the booth and picked up a Pop Socket thing from my booth, like a tchotchke, or everybody that came by and said they were interested in how their badge scanned. That's just not realistic, going back to the SMART goals. What you have to do, your whole job as a marketer here is to narrow those leads into the most qualified, the warmest leads, and only give those to your sales team.

 

That's where a marketing automation email workflow will allow you to do that. You set up this series of emails, the people that do not open and click your emails, we just put them into a different bucket, and we say, "We'll come back to them later." The people that do click on those emails, they can get flagged and sent over to a sales rep, and then you're talking about following up on a dozen leads instead of 200 leads. Those dozen leads are people that are actually interested in the brand. They took the time to express their interest by opening and clicking on that email.

 

If you have that for your sales team they will love you, because that makes their life a lot easier. Remember that your sales team, their whole job is not just to hunt down leads, they have a network of customers that they're continually farming, and they're nurturing. They can't handle the 500 leads that come from the show. You've gotta make it easier for them.

Renia:

The more opportunity that you give to someone, the more leads you give someone, the more choices, the less they're going to do usually. I think that's what happens psychologically with a lot of salespeople after a show, is there's so much, they don't know where to start, so they just don't start at all. There are so many things that you can do with that pre and post-show funnel to make your digital marketing efforts, and your show, and your sales, all come together.

 

We have a client right now who's running a big campaign on organizational systems for utility trucks. So let's say they're at a show and they give away some type of, I don't know, a truck organizer for an email address, where they get sent a downloadable checklist for how to organize their truck. And then the day after the show, anybody who put their email address in there gets an email prompting them to maybe take a picture of how they organized their truck to enter a contest to get something, I don't know, maybe free car washes for a year or something, I don't know. But anyone who does that gets into another bucket that says, "Hey, this person is really engaged."

 

So instead of sending a thousand emails to your sales team, you're sending them just a few, and that also connects the two things, it also gives the sales person something to say, like, "Hey, you stopped by the booth, you entered this thing, you got the organizer, I saw you've been organizing your truck, how's that going?" It gives them a whole script, which kind of brings us to number six. What's number six, Matt?

Matt:

Right so this is about creating and scheduling a training session with your team a couple weeks before the show. This is really important. I know a couple of folks in my own network who do a great job of this. They don't only plan out their job of running the show, but they do a good job of communicating that with the entire team that's going to be there. That might be a person back home at the office who is running the marketing, it may be your sales team that is going to be with you on the show floor, it may be your fellow marketers, and even your executives too. It's important to bring them in as well, who are going to be there at the show, and make sure that they understand what the game plan is as well.

 

This is really like pitching your campaign to your whole team. Obviously they trust you to put the plan together but this is about you bringing them up to speed. It's important to make sure they understand the goals of the event, first of all. And then, we like to suggest putting together like some role-playing activities to explain to them what the journey looks like. If somebody comes to my booth and they say X, then we do Y. If they come in and they're asking about a certain thing then we direct them to maybe a certain person, or we get them to sign up for something. There's all kinds of if-then scenarios that need to be played out and discussed with your team, so that you know how to handle it when you're on the show floor.

Renia:

Yeah, that's such a great point. In my former training life, a partner and I, we had a four hour workshop. I didn't create it, the guy I worked for did. I trained it, and salespeople would pay a few thousand dollars to come in for four hours with the partner and I, and learn how to network an event, because a trade show is more like a networking event than it is like going on a sales call. If you treat the interactions at a trade show like a sales call, you're not likely to be really successful, because most people are not there to buy something yet, they're there for the experience, or to learn about, or to see what's new.

 

So you'll find a lot of times, when you bring your sales team in, they don't really have the tools necessarily to work that show properly. So if you can give them to them without being condescending, don't tell them they don't have the tools, give them some options to work with. A lot of the times they'll be more effective and that helps you earn trust as their marketing department so they'll come back to you for some of the hard stuff later.

Matt:

We love playbooks here. One of the things that would be fantastic idea for you guys, you can take this idea, take it home with you and put it into action, is to create a little playbook for your big trade show event. This playbook has a map of the booth, it shows you the roster list of who's on staff, the times that they're in the booth, the scheduling, what times the breaks are, so you know, "Hey, I'm on break, so this guy's covering for me at this time," the lunch hours, the objectives, the goals that you set for the booth.

 

Then a list of scenarios about, "Hey, if this customer comes in asking about this, I send them down this path." So each scenario has its own little path. Not everybody is going to follow your playbook but a lot of people will, and I think training them ... and over time, you can begin to create this well-oiled machine, where everybody's on the same page and we're all following the playbook and we're all reaching those goals that we set out and agreed to in the beginning.

Renia:

Yeah, it's amazing thing when you see people working really seamlessly together. I know just a few months ago when I was in Boston at Inbound, it's not a hardcore trade show where there's booths everywhere, but you could see the different dynamics between the different teams and how they work together. And if you're paying attention, you know who has a plan and who doesn't, just by the way they're standing and what they're doing. There's nothing that turns you off more if you walk into a booth with an army full of people and nobody says anything to you, right?

Matt:

Oh my gosh. We shouldn't even have to talk about that.

Renia:

Yeah, a little pre-planning can help with that. So, what's our next tip, Matt?

Matt:

Yep, we're running out of time. We've got some more tips here. Number seven, is to design marketing materials and giveaways that get you noticed. Okay, so this is the fun part. This is creating swag and having things that are memorable in your booth. There's lots of things you can do here, but the key thing to remember here is that nobody wants ... a lot of people do this, but nobody wants the throwaway flyer pieces. Here's a flyer about this product, stick it in the bag.

 

First of all, nobody really wants to carry around that bag. You'll see less and less people carrying around bags full of literature, because the digital world that we live in has made that a little bit obsolete. All I really need if I'm a prospect is to know where I can go to learn more, can I go to your website?

 

And of course your prospect's not going to remember to go to your website when he gets back, that's why you need the email marketing automation follow-up. Remember to avoid the throwaway things, even if your flyer is gorgeous, it's really not that important. You might have a few of them stashed away underneath the counter, if you need to, or a couple of catalogs if you need to give out a catalog, but usually people will ask for that sort of thing. This is not something that you want to hand out and have that be your play.

Renia:

Yeah, so what do you do with your bag from the trade show? Let's see if you do what I do every time.

Matt:

Well, I usually go through it.

Renia:

You go up to the hotel room and you do what?

Matt:

Well I go through it first, and I throw about 90% of it away, and I might keep a couple pens.

Renia:

Oh yeah, so you're nicer than I-

Matt:

What do you do?

Renia:

I take the bag and I turn it upside down on the extra bed, cause there's always an extra bed, and I shake it out, and everything that's paper just goes right on the side thing for the maid to take the next day.

Matt:

Yeah, well that's pretty much what I do.

Renia:

And then whatever I think my kids will like I take back. That's pretty much ... yeah, so when you're thinking about those items that you're going to choose, the coolest thing is not always the right thing either. Do you know what the number one thing is that stayed the number one promotional item that stays in an office or a home longest?

Matt:

No.

Renia:

Chip clip.

Matt:

Chip clip. Oh yeah, right.

Renia:

It's not sexy at all, but it's ... think about what-

Matt:

People use it.

Renia:

The people use it yeah, in the office and in the home. Think about what a promotional item is designed to do. The longer that promotional item stays with someone, typically the more valuable it is. So think about something that has staying power. That's why if you're going to give a pen, it should be a nice one. Think about something that has staying power and think about something that fits your brand. Whatever the trendy item of the year is, is not the thing for you, because there's going to be 700 of them, right?

Matt:

Yeah, that's right. I think being, two things, being very generous with ... If you are going to do giveaways and swag, being generous with your swag, and not going for the cheap things. The cheap things that you think are a good deal, though that's a total waste, because I think those get thrown away. Those are not memorable. So either being very generous, and just knowing, "Hey, I know a lot of people are going to be unqualified and I'm going to give it away anyway." And recognize that there's a certain amount of brand recognition that's going to happen by people just carrying around your stuff, or wearing your backpack.

 

I think a couple companies do a great job. Ergodyne is one that comes to mind. Just have unbelievably cool swag that people actually want to wear, and of course it really ties into their brand, because everything they create is wearable. So that's an example of one. I think stuff like this, like a really nice mug, or things that you're going to require somebody to definitely ... You're not just going to hand this away to everybody that comes up to your booth. You're going to ask for some information, "Tell me about your job. Tell me about your position." Capture some data on that lead, and then give them some good stuff, because that has the staying power.

Renia:

Yeah, if you want to just do something cheap, you're better off with candy that they can just take a piece out of a bowl than the throwaway pens.

Matt:

I'm 100% in agreement.

Renia:

So I feel like number eight should really be number two. It should have come up earlier in the list, but let's tell them number eight anyway.

Matt:

Yeah, you organized this, why isn't this number one? This should be the number one thing, and that is that you have to have a persona. We talk a lot about that, but you don't ... One of the frustrating things that I see sometimes is that we treat all prospects equally when they come to the booth, and you can't do that, because you know who your sweet spot customer is, you know who is the ideal fit, and what you want to do is spend more time on those people and less time on the personas that are not the ideal customer.

 

In fact, here's where I would say, is that not only should you have a persona, but you should also have an anti-persona. So who is the person that I don't even want to put that in my marketing funnel because that's just a waste of my time. They're not a purchase, they're not a decision-maker or they're actually somebody who I probably don't want to do business with because it's not going to be good money.

 

Having a persona, understanding who I'm targeting, understanding what their job is so that I can better relate to them when I'm on the show floor, when I'm talking to them in person. I understand their struggles, I understand their pain points, I understand their life. And then on the flip side, knowing, "Okay, I found out quickly in the first couple 30 seconds of this conversation, that this is my anti-persona, and actually I'm going to politely back out of this conversation," I'm going to say, "Hey, would you like a pen?" And then walk away.

Renia:

Yeah, one of the reasons you do that so early on ... you should do the persona so early on is because your booth design can do a lot to keep your anti-persona out of your booth. One of the best booths I've ever seen had a huge sign across the top of it that said, "Your writing sucks."

Matt:

That's awesome.

Renia:

If you're like, "Yeah, you're right," you're probably going to keep walking on like, "Okay, my writing sucks." But if you're like me, who that really matters, you're going to stop there and ask some questions, right? So, that booth design can really do a lot.

Matt:

We do the same thing, and we're very strategic about it, we don't ... If you're in to the status quo, and you're very conservative, and you're not in growth mode, we're probably not a good fit for you. But if you are in growth mode, and you are looking to change things, then you'll find us very attractive, and it's okay. We don't bash those people, we're not judging them, we're just saying, "You're probably not going to like what we're doing, because we're all about changing and moving forward, but if you're looking to stay safe then we're not going to be a good fit."

Renia:

So, I lied. Number nine is my favorite. What's number nine, Matt?

Matt:

So the social engagement plan for the event. Right when you thought that this was all about traditional marketing, we're throwing all kinds of automation, and social media marketing. Here's the thing that you need to do, you need to go do a little homework before the event, figure out what the hashtags that the event is using, figure out who's attending those events, and if you know those two things you can do some cool things, right, Renia? I'm going to let you talk about those.

Renia:

Yeah, you can really do some cool things, and this kills me because if any of you out there are like, "Man, I don't get enough social media engagement. How can I get people to care? Why can't I get people to interact with me on social media?" Your trade shows and live events are the number one opportunity for you to get people to interact with you on social media. All it takes is a little bit of research. So going out, figuring out what the hash tag is like Matt said, figuring out who the attendees are, and you don't need an attendee list for that.

 

Typically, you can go on Twitter before an event, even three or four months out, look at the hashtag for the event, and you'll see people posting about it. You can go on Facebook. Any big trade show has a Facebook event. So you go on that Facebook event and look at all the people who have RSVP'd as attending or going to attend, and then follow those people on Twitter. You can put them on a list, you can put them on a Facebook list, and start interacting with those people. RSVP for the event yourself, and start answering questions for those people.

 

Then, if you have a really savvy CEO or Director of Marketing, ask them to send you or another marketing person to the event to run live broadcasts and handle interactions and answering questions at the event. Because the very best brands will have an on-site social media person with a backup person back in the office monitoring things. Because that's how you're going to take all that investment you've made in the booth and amplify it outside of just the event itself.

 

Listen, what we are seeing in digital marketing, is people taking more and more of their trade show budget out and away from doing these big booths and stuff like that, and putting it in to digital. It doesn't have to be that way, the two can be married together in a really cool way where you get all of the benefits of that offline interaction, and all of the benefits of the digital interaction, but you've got to be on social ... like if it's a three day conference, I'd say you want to be on for five, six hours a day during that conference, interacting with people, just the way a salesperson would be in the booth working.

Matt:

I would just add too, that if you're not a massive company that has two social media managers, or multiple people on your marketing team, let's just say you're just one marketing person and you're at the event, there's some things you can do with social engagement that will make a big impact, but don't require a huge amount of investment. Example of what we're doing here, doing a Facebook Live video of the event, talking, adding some engaging information, and then taking that, boosting it, getting out to the people that are interested in the event is another way. Of course, all kinds of different social ads that you can run, both prior to the show, at the show, and after the show.

Renia:

Directed specifically at people that are going to be there. And while you're at the show, if you're going to go live, you can direct ads right at the people in that general area even down to just people who have checked in at the hotel that you're at. So there's really a whole lot that you can do there. If you're a little confused about where to start, we would love to help you with that. This is actually a place for little companies to shine. If you don't have the six figure budget for your booth, doing the social piece well can get you six figure budget results with a little bit of pre-planning.

Matt:

In fact, and I know we're wrapping up here, but in fact what I would say is, if you've historically done a huge booth, consider in 2018 just downsizing slightly, and you're going to open up an entire swath of budget, and then reallocate that budget to some more digital marketing as well to supplement, not to replace but to enhance what you're doing on the show floor.

Renia:

Absolutely. So as we're wrapping up, we've given a lot of different tips, and we've given them really fast, so it can be a lot of overwhelming stuff to give them, so do you think we could give them something to help them keep up with everything we told them to do?

Matt:

Yeah absolutely. We've created a nice little resource, it's a trade show checklist, it's available on our website, just go to growwithsms.com. Scroll down to the bottom, you'll see it there at the bottom. It's a trade show checklist. It's a great resource to have. Something that is not going to help you plan your entire show, but it will begin the conversation and help you wrap your mind around all of the things that need to go into the planning and execution of your next trade show.

 

So now's the time to do it. Renia said that we're already a little bit behind. I think you can play catch up and get to where you need to be for this upcoming trade show season.

Renia:

Yeah or maybe you're starting for NSC in September, you never know.

Matt:

Yeah, like us.

Renia:

So next week for Episode 24, as is tradition, Lief will be joining us. Again, he'll come out from behind the camera, in front of the camera, to talk to us about what we've learned so far, and boy have we learned a lot in the last several weeks with a lot of the fun things we've been doing and a lot of the individual episodes. So come back to talk to Lief, hear about what's going on, and we'll see you guys next week. We're really excited to be back together and with you.

Matt:

Have a great 2018, guys. We'll see you next time.

Lief:

Question.

Renia:

Bye-bye. Oh yeah, Lief just reminded me to ask you the question again. So we just wanted to remind you, please in the comments below, if you're watching on Facebook or YouTube, let us know how you prepare for your trade shows, what are some of your rituals that you go through, that'll enter you to win some cool swag from SMS that we'll talk to you about next week. See you later.

 

Hey everybody, thanks for joining us. If you're just getting started with us on Grow Live, be sure to check out some of our favorite episodes in the show notes.

Matt:

And don't forget that you can see us live on Facebook, every Wednesday at noon, or you can find us on YouTube and binge past episodes in full HD.

Renia:

If you found this helpful and you want to see more, leave us a review and we'll enter you for a chance to win some Grow Live swag. Thanks again, everybody.

 

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Topics: Marketing, Trade Shows, Sales, Grow Live, industrial marketing, digital marketing, resources, sales professional

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