AMT recently coordinated a series of IMTS exhibitor workshops at various locations throughout the country. If you chose not to attend, you really missed out on an opportunity to pick up some helpful information for planning and executing a successful show.
I attended the session in Columbus, OH on March 2. While all of the presenters had useful advice, my biggest takeaway was the idea of “extending the IMTS experience.” This theme was persistent throughout the day; in fact, Peter Eelman, in his opening review of the state of the show, highlighted the steps IMTS has taken to, specifically, make IMTS.com a destination for anyone seeking news or developments in manufacturing technology at any time, even in the normally dormant (for IMTS) off-show years. This also dovetailed with an article I was working on for my own blog, Constant Cogitation, on 10 Ways to Extend your Brand for Industrial Customers.
A shocking fact that should make you think more about this idea is that 75% of booth visits at a trade show are planned before the attendee arrives at the show. Think about how you spend your time. I’m guessing you spend at least 75% of your time thinking about how to attract visitors to your booth once they arrive at the show. Given this statistic and the recognized importance of good lead follow-up after the show, can you afford not to extend your IMTS presence?
It may sound easier said than done – after all, we do have other priorities, right? – but here are 7 ways that you can extend your company’s presence before and after IMTS (and I’m not talking about the basics like making sure your profile is up to date on IMTS.com – which you should). Ideally, you want to drive up the number of visitors who tag you on theIMTS My Show Planner service, so you know in advance who plans to find you at the show.
- Consider a show-specific promotion to drive visitors to your booth – this can be a memorable giveaway, a discount, free consultation session, or something of value to potential visitors. It’s even better if you can at least give the impression that these promotions are aimed specifically at pre-registered visitors. On a related note – don’t throw away your giveaways. Make your visitors have to earn them by providing you with valuable information, at least their contact information and some semblance of “qualifying” attributes.
- Promote your show presence on your website and / or company blog. This is a great place to highlight your show promotion and provide a link for visitors to register to attend the show (with a reminder to add you to their visit list).
- Develop pre-show advertising and article content for key publications that support your theme for the show. You do have a unique theme, with a compelling reason for visitors to find you, don’t you?
- Follow up with planned visitors before the show (you can view who has noted your booth in the Show Planner) to find out their specific interests and schedule a time to make sure you have the right resources (like the region manager for their area) in the booth. This will also help them feel a bit more committed to visiting your booth.
- At the show, consider ways in which you can be present beyond your booth – perhaps your equipment (especially if you are an accessory provider, like we are at Mayfran) is present in other exhibitors’ booths, and they will allow you to provide a label directing visitors to your booth.
- On your lead form or questionnaire, seek permission to add them to your email distribution list or invite them to subscribe to your news or blog feed, so that you can maintain communication after the show. This is particularly valuable if their need is not immediate.
- Make sure you have a follow-up plan established before the show even starts, including an email response within 48 hours (have your template prepared), a follow-up call within 10 days, and another at 30 days, as recommended by Marlys Arnold at the IMTS Exhibitor Workshop.
These tips can help you maximize your return on investment from this critical trade show while forcing you to define your objectives and communicate them consistently both before and after the event itself.