Don’t look now, but it’s almost that time of year again! The 2017 (March 7-11) edition of the largest construction industry show in the land is sure to be chock-full of high roller opportunities. It’s in Vegas, and it’s gonna be epic.
The question is, how do you seize the moment and maximize your time at the show? How do you justify that expense report when you get back to the office?
More bluntly, how do you make sure your time at the show is not an utter failure?
Using a bit of reverse psychology to motivate your trade show success, here are 6 ways to ensure you will most definitely, positively, indefatigably waste your time at CONEXPO-CON/AGG.
1. Just show up.
If your planning and preparation consists mainly of packing business cards (or just scoping out prime rib spots, craps tables, and figuring out when you want to visit the Pawn Stars guys), you’re on the fast track to wasting your time.
A successful show starts with multi-channel pre-show marketing. Are you using email, social media, and digital advertising to announce your presence with authority? You can get ahead of the game (and your competitors) by piggybacking off of strong brands like Equipment World, Aggregates Manager, and Total Landscape Care to reach your audience before the show.
Using EDA data is another goldmine of insight that can help you pinpoint who you should be talking to at the event.
Keep in mind there will be more than 2,500 exhibitors at this year’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG, so you need to get your name out there to avoid getting lost in the shuffle.
Figure out the lay of the land. Learn about your booth setup and layout, and study up on who’s going to be there. Don’t just show up and see what develops. Otherwise, you have no accountability and nothing to shoot for. Except for maybe Celine Dion tickets. (No judgment here, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.)
2. Not make a conquest list.
Who’s on your list of people you absolutely have to speak with? Who should be doing business with you? Who absolutely needs your products and/or services, and why?
Before you go to the show, make a conquest list. Check it twice like Santa. Take some time to gather intel about the companies on your list so you sound informed in your pitch, and you’re able to improvise.
Without a list, you’ll be like me at the grocery store – aimlessly wandering, hopelessly inefficient, and destined to forget whatever basic objective was assigned to you in the first place (milk! How did I forget the milk again?!).
Don’t be like me at the grocery store. Be intentional and prepared. Make your conquest list and go break the ice with their relevant reps with methodical precision.
As for crafting your master list, it helps to have data on your side. Without industry-specific insight, you’re missing out on potential customers. Data reveals all the qualified prospects who you should be trying to conquer.
3. Stop your marketing once you get there.
Don’t just sit there like a passive bump on a log once you get to Vegas. Be proactive about marketing during the show, whether through digital or face-to-face means. Experiment with both as much as you can.
Use social media to drum up booth visitors and establish rapport with other exhibitors. Ride the wave of CONEXPO publicity by participating in onsite events and online forums. You never know who you might reach or end up connecting with!
4. Not take advantage of free marketing.
There are usually plenty of free marketing opportunities at shows of this nature/magnitude. But you might have to dig and ask around. Check out the list of free marketing possibilities here, or you might even consider doing something on CONEXPO-CON/AGG radio.
Either way, don’t pass up free or cheap marketing opportunities.
5. Don’t plan any follow-up.
After the show ends, then the real work begins. Even if you you’re not able to close any mega-deals at the show, you will, hopefully, plant seeds that can sprout into business later on.
You need a smart, intentional follow-up approach to keep your show momentum (‘show-mo’) going. Strike while the iron’s hot and memories are fresh.
You’d be amazed what a night of drinking and discount shrimp buffets can do to someone’s memory, so take notes during the show to remind you of who you spoke with, and what you spoke about. Score leads as you chat with different prospects, and try to determine what channel is the best way to reach them down the road after the show’s over.
A good bet here is email. Try to capture email addresses during the show so you can follow up with an email marketing campaign and add them to your company newsletter. You can also upload email addresses into Facebook to craft a custom audience. Ditto for Google.
Email is cheap, easy, and not too intrusive. And also still effective.
Another smart tactic is to create a Customer or Prospect Watch, which enables you to keep tabs on equipment purchases or game-changing brand switches. Knowledge of this nature shifts the balance of power in your favor and gives you a huge advantage in your follow-up efforts to close deals.
6. Don’t track your results.
Ah yes, ROI. You need to have more to show for your Vegas trip than Celine Dion pics if you want prove your trip was worthwhile, so be sure to plan in advance what metrics to track.
Ask your boss, too. What does s/he care about? Business cards? Booth scans? Forms filled out? Conversations/appointments? New business leads? Current client relationship management? Coupons passed out and redeemed?
Work with your superiors to highlight the results you hope to achieve, and plan your onsite activities accordingly.
Also take advantage of whatever education opportunities pertain to you and your business, and bring back nuggets to share with your colleagues. Spread the wealth of knowledge and insight around your office!
At the end of the day, ROI is always about $$$, so you need to deliver bottom-line impact. A great way to do this in a sustainable, long-term fashion is to leverage data through a Customer or Prospect Watch. That’s the best way to monitor potential customers, your competition, and the market over all.
Unless, of course, you plan to waste your time. In which case, just follow the six points listed above.