According to MarketingSherpa 2012 Marketing Benchmark Report, trade shows have secured the top spot as the most effective B2B marketing platform. They have greatly surpassed paid search, email marketing and websites. This statistic encourages us to take tradeshows more seriously and leverage them to market our businesses more efficiently and effectively.

Traditional marketers used to collect buckets of business cards and manually upload them into their database so sales reps could cold call each lead directly. Today, marketers know that the basic contact information you get from a lead at an event (which usually includes a name, an email address, a zip code, a phone number, and a company and title) doesn’t tell you anything about whether the prospect is a good lead or not. Marketers now do everything they can to qualify leads before passing them off to sales.

Event marketing isn’t a perfect art, but these three tips should help you build an effective event marketing strategy.

  • Invite the attendees to your email list to subscribe to your communications. Most people at trade shows know that getting their badges scanned means they will be receiving emails from a number of vendors, so don’t be coy when they ask why you need to scan their badges. Tell them you’ll send them emails. At the very least, let them know that you’ve added them to an email list and give them an opportunity to unsubscribe. Event attendees receive a lot of emails in the days and weeks following an event, and if they perceive your follow up as spam, they’ll think of your brand as obnoxious – which is not a great way to encourage them to buy from you.
  • Use content that’s related to the event. Presence at a trade show is something you have in common with anyone with whom you connect post-show. Think about any time you meet a friend of a friend someplace: most people are inclined to say, “so how do you know so and so?” Talking about what you have in common progresses conversation naturally. An email sparks a conversation with a prospect, so make them feel comfortable by talking about what you have in common. Creating live content at the event, such as videos, tweet compilations, or session overviews is ideal, but if you don’t have the time to do so, use content that’s related to the topics featured at the event. For example, if you attend a marketing trends roadshow, send a piece of content about marketing trends. If you don’t have content that’s related to the topics around which an event centers, perhaps you should reconsider your attendance at that event.
  • Develop a lead-nurturing campaign, and create as much of it before the event as possible. Unless you attend a very targeted event, your event lead pool will be very diverse. Don’t mistake the attendees for warm leads and try to sell immediately. Nurture the leads until your sales team can effectively determine which ones are worth their time. When you build out a nurture program before an event, you’re ready to send it right after an event. In the aftermath of an event, you need to sell to your leads while the event is still hot on their minds. If you have to scramble to build emails and get approval after an event, your emails won’t be created as effectively, and you’ll lose interest from leads.

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