My background is in digital marketing. When I think about ways to reach out to the trucking industry, my first thoughts tend towards using data to target the correct online audience, spending money on PPC, banner ads and even YouTube pre-roll videos. If I’m honest, using an event to market to the trucking industry isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But that is a mistake on my part, because the trucking industry is full of targeted, high quality events that can be an incredible opportunity for you to meet with clients and prospects face-to-face.
Just attending an event isn’t good enough.
If you want to avoid wasting money, you’ll have to do your homework before, after, and during an event that your company chooses to attend.
1. Choose your event carefully.
Every event in the trucking industry has a distinct audience. Some events, like the CCJ Symposiums are intimate and focused on executives and decision makers in the trucking industry. If you are selling a product that will demand the attention of a high-level position at major fleets, this type of event is probably a good idea.
On the opposite end of the scale you have an event like the Great American Trucking Show. This is a massive, industry-wide spectacle that includes product launches, press conferences, and a significant presence from some of the biggest companies in the transportation space. If you want to reach owner-operators, recruit company drivers, or even just raise the over-all awareness of your brand, this can be a great place to start.
The important thing to remember is every event isn’t created equally. Find an event that is most likely to be targeted towards the specific audience you want to reach.
2. Use pre-show marketing.
Especially when your company attends bigger events, don’t just assume that because there are a lot of people at the show that they will come by or even notice your booth. Large events have the advantage of big audiences, but every company exhibiting at that even is trying to stand out. This means that in addition to a great looking booth, you need to get in touch with your current clients and prospects and make sure they know to come find you.
Include your booth number and location in your marketing materials.
Make sure that your booth emphasizes your brand and makes it clear from a distance what you are trying to communicate. Send out a direct-mail campaign the week before the show that includes a coupon for a giveaway. This type of offer can do a lot to drive traffic to a booth, even if you don’t have the largest, or most eye-catching presence at that event.
3. Track everything.
This is one of those things that is a huge pain but pays off in the end. Track how many people stop by your booth during the trucking event you are spending so much to attend. Of those people, track how many become sales leads or at least give you their contact information. After the show make sure to know exactly how many of those people convert into customers.
If you don’t have a provable ROI for the money you spend attending a show, you have no way of knowing if you are wasting money.
Tracking everything isn’t just about proving ROI. It is also important for you to know what is and isn’t working when it comes to gathering contact information and generating targeted leads for your sales team. Maybe that give away was generous enough to drive a ton of traffic to your booth, but it wasn’t targeted enough to really generate any qualified leads. Maybe you aren’t generating a ton of leads at a certain event, but the ones you do get are incredibly valuable because they are so targeted.
The only way to know if your event presence is worth all the time and trouble is to track every metric you can and use that information to make better decisions in the future.