3 Things You Need to Stop Doing at Trade Shows

In a B2B marketing environment that has new channels and tactics added almost daily, trade shows are nothing new. But if you think this means your trade show strategy doesn’t need an update, you’re probably wrong.

Although many marketers still favor the tried-and-true tactics of collecting business cards, using paper lead gen forms, and mass email follow-ups, these marketers are quickly finding themselves outpaced and outperformed by competitors willing to evolve their strategies to a more tech-savvy approach.

New marketing tools like tablets and automation platforms have opened the door to a level of lead gen effectiveness and accuracy at trade shows that would excite even the weariest trade show marketer.

Marketing automation allows marketers to:

  • Utilize mobile landing pages to import leads straight into their database
  • Collect demographic information to provide a tailored, personalized follow-up
  • Nurture trade show leads automatically with drip nurturing campaigns
  • Accurately track and record ROI for greater insight and more effective planning.

If you are ready to simplify your trade show strategy and take significant stress and headaches out of your next event experience, here are three things you should stop doing at trade shows.

Stop Using Paper Lead Forms

Even if your organizational skills are at a librarian-like level, paper lead forms are a nightmare. They get lost or damaged easily, leads always seem to have TERRIBLE handwriting, and there is no guarantee the information they provide is accurate.

On top of all that, you still have to input these leads manually into your database. It’s awful, right? Despite all that, a whopping 59% of companies are still using paper-based lead forms and business cards to collect information from trade show attendees.

Instead of paper lead forms, create a dedicated landing page with a form to collect information from leads. Automation platforms allow you to design these pages in minutes, include form validation (to make sure you are only collecting valid email addresses), and import leads directly into your database. These landing pages can easily be used on laptops and tablets at your exhibitor’s booth. No more manual entry of data. No more lost or jumbled paper forms. No more endless stacks of business cards.

Stop Sending Generic Post-Event Email Blasts

Although you would like to believe that you made a lasting impression on every prospect you met at a trade show, the truth is that you were one of possibly hundreds of vendors vying for their attention. And guess what? Those hundreds of other vendors are going to be bombarding those same prospects with sales pitches and generic email blasts after the event, just like you. So how do you break through the clutter to reach prospects? Take things slowly.

Instead of the same generic email blasts everyone else is sending, add prospects that aren’t yet ready to buy to a drip campaign that will build a relationship naturally over time. Start with a helpful event recap, then a valuable related resource a few days later. Not only does this feel like a more natural relationship to prospects, but it frees up your sales team to focus on the hottest leads from the trade show as other leads are nurtured automatically.

Stop Guessing at ROI

Marketing departments are being held more and more accountable for the money they spend, and rightfully so. With improved tracking and reporting technology, marketers are running out of excuses for not knowing the ROI of their campaigns. With some event sponsorships running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, trade shows are no place to still be guessing at ROI.

Marketing automation platforms make tracking the ROI of your events as easy as pulling a report. Your trade show leads can be automatically tagged upon import, leaving no doubt as to the campaign that generated them. This type of increased transparency allows you to budget more accurately for future events, calibrate your trade show strategies, and predict future returns.

If you are still using the old tried-and-true trade show strategies, it may be time to upgrade to a marketing automation solution. With all the hard work you put into planning and executing your trade shows, you should be able to sit back after an event and watch automation turn your hard work into real business results.

For more information on using marketing automation at trade shows, grab your free copy of “Leveraging Marketing Automation at Trade Shows” — and be sure to check out our newest SlideShare presentation above!

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