The SkyRocket Group team was at the National Retail Federation Retail’s BIG Show January 15-17 and in between assisting clients with media appointments, getting materials to the press room, and attending meetings, we had some time to spend walking the aisles and seeing how companies marketed at the expo. Industry events like the BIG Show are a great tool to teach you about marketing, and this includes evaluating how your peers and competitors are marketing their businesses and considering whether any of these ideas will work for your company.
Here are three things the expo floor of a major event can teach you about marketing:
- Make information front and center. An expo floor is a busy place. There is so much vying for your attention at every turn. Businesses have only a few seconds to capture the attention of a prospect walking the expo floor. Ideas from this year’s show included booth walls or backdrops that were printed with more than just product features but also with “stories” of addressing industry challenges or of client case studies. Of course, technology was front and center, inviting show attendees for demos, and there were always company representatives on hand, ready to engage prospects, offer them information or link them with resources. Another thing trade shows can teach you about marketing is that tactics effective on an expo floor are also relevant to marketing in general. You only have a few seconds to capture a prospect’s attention when you write a blog or send a newsletter. Stories that show how to address a pain point or how a company found success with a solution will always grab attention more than just product speeds and feeds, and there always has to be person-to-person engagement once you grab a prospect’s attention.
- Take names. Getting people to stop at your booth, demo your products, and take copies of your brochures or white papers are all good things. But a better thing is getting their names. It was interesting to see the varied tactics companies used to collect names of expo attendees interested in their products. Some had the traditional “fishbowl” where people dropped business cards, but others were doing some qualification instead of just collecting names they couldn’t match to a face. They had people fill out an entry for a prize after a demo, or they sent information to attendees in advance and had them scan a QR code when they came to the booth. Some took pictures of people’s name badges after they had talked to them. Filling your sales funnel with names is good, but knowing the names belong to people who expressed an interest in your products is better. It will save your sales team time and effort later in qualifying leads.
- Always be ready to learn. As we spoke with clients at the show, they were already beginning to assess what was working best with their marketing efforts at the expo. It’s important, however, to do more than draw conclusions from mere observation or gut instinct. As with any marketing campaign, it’s important to establish metrics, track progress toward meeting your goals, evaluate performance and make necessary adjustments with your next campaign. Major events such as the BIG Show are also opportunities to learn about the industry you serve. Network to connect with new resources, talk with peers about what they’re seeing in your market, and, of course attend educational sessions. As a manufacturer, vendor, ISV or VAR, you may believe the educational opportunities aren’t valuable for you, however, they can provide insights into the challenges your clients are facing and are searching for solutions to help them overcome — maybe solutions you can provide. Some of the challenges discussed at the event this year are low e-commerce conversions, how to use data analysis to improve the in-store shopping experience, how to best track inventory when a retailer sells on multiple channels, and how to change processes to appeal to younger “digital native” shoppers. This information may also provide you the starting point for your next newsletter subject line or blog topic.
We are already looking forward to next year’s BIG Show, as well as the other industry events we attend throughout the year, as opportunities to help our clients fill their sales funnels and grow their businesses. If you want to learn more about marketing at an industry event, contact us.