Occasionally digital types are turned loose in the real world for some old-fashioned, in-person marketing. There we are, swapping handshakes and business cards at a conference, talking shop with peers and prospects for three days at time. It isn’t all jaw gymnastics; this is how marketers used to do lead generation, and it remains extremely effective today.
Some of the contacts you meet will, hopefully, resemble a lead—the same as a web visitor submitting a form fill for a white paper. It is good practice to qualify trade show leads in a similar manner as those you earn with digital content. How does this look in terms of process?
Companies think of all sorts of ways to grab attention and contact information at a trade show. A contest wherein entrants submit business cards for a prize drawing, or a live demo activated by an email address—these are just a couple ways companies gather prospects’ contact information. Attending or showing at a conference can cost an organization quite a bit of money for a booth, travel expenses, swag, and more. It is important to record a positive ROI and land a few deals from the effort.
Regardless, you always wind up with a grip of contact information after an industry event. So what happens next with that data?
Create a follow-up campaign
Take those IRL connections and fit them into your automated lead nurturing pipeline. Create ranking factors and prioritize your outreach just like on the digital side. Then determine the messaging by attaching it to how you obtained the contact information. Here, you’re segmenting your audience and delivering communication that’s on topic and on-time. Use that digital marketing muscle memory!
Be specific in your correspondence
You probably will not write personalized emails for every business card you collect, but you should use as many specifics as you can to create a personal effect. No matter what, do not send out a generic press-release style email blast to everyone that stopped by your booth. Add appropriate flair and personalization to grab attention and trigger visitors’ memory. An easy trick to help this process goes back to while you’re at the show. Immediately after trading business cards and moving on, jot down a few words or phrases noting what was discussed. This will help jog your memory and add that personal touch to your follow-up.
Base everything from a template
Individual letters in certain cases are a good idea if you had exceptional rapport with a prospect. In most instances, you want to expedite the process with a template. Start with a few basics—it was nice that you stopped by the booth, I hope you enjoyed the demo, so on and so forth—remembering to create messaging around how you obtained the contact information. Replicate this portion for every lead generated by a specific strategy and build upon it before sending.
Personalize follow-up after doing a little research
If you collected a business card, you can look up the company, study the vertical it works in, and inductively reason out a prospect’s role from the title listed on the card. How do you discover this information? Using sales and marketing intelligence, like RainKing, can help you better understand the company, its industry, and that company’s decision-makers. While the person you meet at your booth may be a decision-maker, chances are, there are others higher up the chain with signing power you need to talk to. RainKing has a proprietary tool that analyzes and ranks the people you met based on your specific criteria, then compares your list against its entire database to suggest additional contacts who meet your ideal persona at the organization you should reach out to (budget holder, influencer, C-Suite, etc). This saves time and energy—no calling up the chain and you can prioritize who to call based on their likeliness to buy.
However, even if the person you met doesn’t isn’t a decision-maker, that doesn’t mean you should forget they stopped by your booth. Still send them a nice follow-up message, because you never know what “pull” someone might have.
Determine what to ask in the email
Think of the sales funnel and the logical pathway prospects usually take. Don’t try to close in one follow-up email, but don’t forget to ask something either. At the very least, you can see if they’d like to learn more about your service. The next step down the funnel might be info-sends, it might be a warm-up call, it might be social media engagement depending on client preference. The important thing is to keep them engaged.
Flow chart your non-response protocol
Some contacts answer your messages, others will not. In either case, you will persist. Continue engaging down the funnel with the repliers. With the non-responses, you might draft another email as a friendly reminder that you exist, and completely understand they have a hectic job, and you’re here whenever they’re ready to talk. Give them more time between each outreach attempt—they may legitimately be swamped. Consider sending occasional thought-leadership pieces or relevant content to nurture the prospect in a less-direct manner.
Know when to stop messaging
After three or four non-responses, say goodbye, good luck, see you next year. Keep the contact on file and mark it cold. For prospects that ventured a little deeper into the funnel, be patient and wait out the same number ignored messages in the same manner. Knowing when to stop also applies to actively engaged prospects. After a certain number of touches, you might be well-suited to pass the prospect over to personnel designated to close new business.
To ensure you get a positive ROI from events, make sure your follow-up is timely, your messaging is personalized—adding that human-element, and you use your sales and marketing intelligence tool to surface additional contacts to reach out to. You spent budget dollars to attend, it’s important to get the most out of your efforts.