I’m going to open up with a really simple analogy to illustrate something that’s been playing on my mind for a few weeks, and is something that often gets overlooked when planning trade shows.


In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle… 

So, we spent most of April and May on the road at shows and delivering training, and then fortunately, a lot of June on a beach getting some much needed R&R.  Back home, it rained (a lot) and our usual neat and tidy garden, had erupted into some sort of over-grown jungle, without us noticing it creeping up on us! Cue the forecast of long sunny days (at last) and mass panic at how on earth we get it to some sort of reasonable state to actually sit in (neither of us are gardeners). Thankfully our local green-fingered ninja came to the rescue, along with his amazing dad to chat through the different options. As he walked along the perimeter with my husband talking about hacking away at huge hedges, his dad painted me the vision of a colourful, vibrant (low maintenance) rockery, creating the perfect relaxation zone for my end-of-day G&T. Having initially thought we’d just be looking for a quick tidy up, 15 minutes later we’d agreed to a whole host of other ‘stuff’ we didn’t know we needed but now couldn’t wait to get done. What this talented team of local gardeners had done brilliantly was recognise there was more than one person in the buying decision and taken the time to understand each of our individual needs in order to widen their footprint. Others might more simply call it, divide and conquer. social-media-3846597_1280.png

But why does our garden matter to Trade Shows? 

Today’s B2B relationships are tough and to get sign-off on spend (particularly for big ticket items) there is likely to be more than one person involved in the buying decision. Equally, we’re more transient than we’ve ever been and just because someone is your key contact today, doesn’t mean they will be tomorrow. Although it’s going to take time and resource, there’s real benefit in growing your footprint as widely as you can in an organisation so multiple departments and people know who you are and more importantly, understand the value you bring to their business.

We know how tough it can be to come up with that all important list of key contacts that you’re going to pre-market to and we’re going to challenge you to make it a whole load tougher by working out who else you’re going to invite as well as your main buying contact. But trust us, it’ll be worth it! So what are some of the key things to think about when pulling together you’re multi-point contact plan for trade shows?

1.Who’s Who?  questions-2245264_1920.jpg

Firstly think about what role each person plays in the decision making process – is someone an influencer, a direct decision maker, an end user of your product? What are their key needs and problems? What do you need them to be saying to whom after they’ve been at the show to move you along the path to purchase? When you know that, you can think about what you’ll need to show them on your stand to leave the right impression (and ensure your team know which selling story they’re using for which person).

2. Who To Ask? 

If you’ve only ever met one person from an organisation, where do you start trying to find  other people to invite that are useful to you. A bit of desk research via LinkedIn or on their website should throw up the names and contact details as a starter. Taking a day out of the office is a big ask for anyone so finding ways to create additional value for prospects can work, for example if someone is working in finance are there are sessions on the seminar programme that might interest them that you can highlight – then suggest they pop by your stand afterwards?  Offering a referral incentive can also work, free tickets to bring a colleague along or suggesting you buy lunch and get to know the wider team.

3. Help Build Capability mentor-2062999_1920.png

Remembering that your contact might move on at any time, is it likely that one of the current junior team members might take over the role?  If they’re new to the industry is there the opportunity to invite younger team members to the event and give them a guided tour.  Help to explain how the different parts of the industry fit together, take them to relevant seminar sessions, introduce them to key stakeholders / trade press. In helping them build their knowledge and confidence, whenever they get promoted they’re likely to remember how you supported them.

4. Host Bespoke Events / Demonstrations

If you have a complex, multi-layered buying relationship there might be the opportunity to host a specific demonstration of your product/service which can show clearly how it brings benefit across your  customer’s entire organisation. By showing the end-to-end impact of your product, everyone in the decision making process has a clearer vision of what it means to the company’s overall performance – rather than working in their own individual silo. If you’re thinking of doing this, it would be worth including a number of your own team from different departments to ‘man-mark’ your customer.

5. Follow Up with Everyone followup

It’s one of the things that exhibitors still don’t seem to get quite right with an industry average of about 13% of leads being followed up. Where you have multi-layered touch points it can be tempting for one person to manage all the follow-up into a customer – but what happens if that one person leaves?  The aim is to grow your organisation’s reach, not an individual’s. Work out before the show who is going to be responsible for following up with whom and how will it be managed to deliver a consistent and proactive plan.  Of course, if you’re the only one working in your business then it’s all down to you – but if you can, create personalised touch points with each person you met as opposed to one generic email.

As with anything relating to exhibitions, it’s not easy and it’s going to take time to crack, but it will be worth it.  We know from working with clients how hard it is to come up with that list of single points of contact, but it’s a high risk tactic if you’re trying to sell to big organisations. The real power of trade shows is in creating a sales pipeline that is easier to navigate because of relationships that were formed at the show. Imagine how much easier that would be if you’d managed to form those relationships with everyone in the buying process before you’d even left the show hall?

Have you applied a multi-layered contact strategy to your pre-show marketing? What did you learn and how did it work for you?

If you’re struggling to create an engaging, relevant pre-show campaign that gets the right people to your stand why not send us an email at proextra@12th-man-solutions.co.uk and see if we could help?

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