Tradeshow marketing might bring up thoughts of branded stress balls, colorful booth themes, or conference room battles about which giveaway will draw attendees to your booth.
For vendors, exhibiting at a tradeshow like NRF, VMworld, or Dreamforce is a massive investment — months of marketing meetings, booth design decisions, email marketing to nudge prospects to swing by the booth, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. When it’s over, companies may have made a great impression on some prospects, met up with some customers, and scanned a bunch of badges to gather emails for follow-up in the coming months. Sounds fine, right?
Industry trade shows should be an opportunity to gather top-of-funnel leads while strategically engaging with high-value prospects through account-based marketing. Don’t leave ABM out of your trade show marketing strategy this year! Here are a few of our favorite ways to do it.
1. Send meeting invites the right way.
Before the show, select a few prospects or customers that your team would consider a home run to meet with during the event. A generic “Come see us at booth 123!” automated email won’t cut it for these prospects. Send a tailored and personalized direct mail piece or letter to stand out from the pack that demonstrates why meeting with you at the show is a smart business decision and worth the time. For example, do you know of any business initiatives at the account that your solution can help with? Offer to have a conversation about their key priorities at the show. In your outreach, demonstrate that you’re tuned into the account and aren’t thinking of them as just another lead. For instance, is your prospect speaking on a panel or during a session at some point? Wish them luck and if possible, tie your solution to the topic of their presentation.
2. Don’t miss out on priceless account insights.
Take every opportunity to attend sessions and panels where your key named accounts are speaking. ABM relies on a foundation of solid research, and there may be no better place to uncover the wealth of information you’ll learn about a company’s business initiatives and technology priorities than an industry tradeshow! Take great notes at these sessions and leverage them when you get back from the show to create personalized ABM campaigns. For instance, if the Home Depot CIO talks about the importance of customer data during a panel at a tradeshow, your campaign strategy for Home Depot can focus on how your solution supports that priority.
3. Take advantage of in-person experiences.
Consider selecting fifteen to twenty key prospects that are attending a tradeshow and host an invitation-only executive event the day before when everyone is in town. While a mini-seminar like this, whether a half-day or full-day of content, is a lot of work to put together, everything from the agenda to your invitations to your follow-up offers the chance for personalization and account-based selling. Even a cocktail hour at a local restaurant for a set of key prospects during the show can be a great way to network, personalize your outreach, and make your key prospects feel like they’re part of an exclusive group.
This year, focus less on picking which color USB sticks you'll pass out in the booth and more on how to turn your trade show line-up into a strategic ABM opportunity.