Creative strategies to generate quality leads at events

At a trade show, event or conference, there are many different ways to generate leads. You don’t need to be highly extroverted to do this well. The motto for generating leads is ‘give before you get’. If you know your audience, then you understand what they things they might value. The key is to deliver on this, capture their interest, and earn their contact details in return!

Six tips for generating top-shelf leads

1. Speak Up!

Give a talk or run a workshop — if there is an opportunity to teach your ideal customers about something that relates to your business then jump on it. Often there is space and time available in conference schedules to allow for short sessions on specialist subjects.

Getting a spot as a speaker is perfect for demonstrating your expertise and building credibility. You may find that audience-members come to you with problems to discuss. They are very likely going to become top qualified leads (‘hot’ leads) for your follow-up.

2. Give Generously

Product giveaways are great and can be extremely popular. Alternatively, consider running a competition, It’s a great way to build traffic and more and more people will flock to your stand to find out what the buzz is all about. Make sure you have a fast and efficient way of collecting personal details.

Think about making things easier if you are going to busy! Set up a virtual mobile phone number and offer a free product to those who SMS their email address. This can work well for other audience members as well as casual visitors to your booth.

3. Catch and Release

Often event organisers will hire out badge scanners which are an easy way of collecting delegate information, although you can achieve the same outcome in other ways too.

You could set up an iPad to scan a delegate’s conference pass or you could generate an online form and have it running on a tablet on your stand. This would allow you to collect leads and segment leads with appropriate questions at the same time. Just don’t make the forms too long and complicated to start with, you can always get down to the nitty-gritty when you follow up.

A tablet also makes a great showcase if you have some impressive product or service video to display and can help to catch people’s eye as they wander past your stand. If you notice them lingering as they wander by it’s a great opportunity to jump in and engage them in conversation.

The old-school method of having a fishbowl where people put in their business card shouldn’t be overlooked either. Some delegates may prefer to do this and it prevents queues when your stand is busy. If you would like to add to your mailing list, a follow-up email inviting them to join would be best practice.

4. Be Social

Use social media and check for #hashtags and @people who are attending your event to engage with them online and draw them to your booth or presentation.

If you have a new product or service to launch and have a way to get the crowd engaged and passing your message on then half your work is done for you. Think virally, if you can devise a hook that makes delegates want to be part of the buzz and reverberate your story this is a great way to get the word out!

Don’t wait for the event to begin before you start thinking about social media. Engaging with the attendees ahead of time can help to build anticipation, especially if you have some big and substantial news to announce.

Take photos of new friends you meet at other booths and tag them (with their permission) in the social channels of your choice such as Instagram. Or photograph and create pins of impressive booth displays on a Pinterest Board. This can get you attention on other accounts as well as your own.

5. Get Out and About

Dinners, after-show drinks and networking breakfasts are often the events where people speak honestly about their professional challenges. Obviously, you may be able to identify a solution for their issue. In that instance, well done! You’ve got a hot lead.

If you can’t find a ready solution, though, by listening deeply you may get something else that’s equally valuable: quality in-depth research for product development and customer insights.

In terms of marketing communication, using the ‘voice of customer’ can cut through and resonate more authentically with people. It will also provide a way of navigating through wants, needs, expectations and frustrations in order to design your service experience better.

6. Geek Out!

Stay technically savvy! If your organisation uses a CRM, you are able to add new contacts and information relevant to their profile. Having said that, not every organisation uses an enterprise-level CRM but there really isn’t an excuse not to, HubSpot’s CRM is best in class and completely free for up to 1 million contacts!

If you don’t want a fully fledged solution there are many web apps that help simplify marketing and project management, including Airtable (a database/spreadsheet hybrid) or If This Then That (IFTTT), which works to connect different apps together so you can streamline activities (read more about that below).

Trello is a well known, simple and intuitive task management tool that is great for teams. It’s free and extremely easy to use for in-house communications and collaborative task management (such as staying on the same page as your colleagues when following up). If you want more power and control check out ClickUp which is our management tool of choice here at Fluidic.

Slack is fantastic for instant messaging between team members and perfect to keep everyone on the same page before, during and after an event.

After The Event

Well done, you made it back to base in one piece! You may have a fishbowl (electronic or otherwise) filled with hundreds of new contacts, but not all leads are the same.

Classifying Leads

The buying cycle means that the majority of your leads will not be ready for a sales call, which would probably scare them off for good.

They are more likely to be in the awareness/research or consideration stage.

Put your list into groups based on readiness to purchase. You may also segment the list into business industry demographics (‘firmagraphics’).

Follow Up

The follow-up for this group should be done first. This is best personalised one-on-one with either your sales team, product specialists, or subject matter experts (SME). Your conversations with these leads will inform the content and best approach to take, such as a meeting, product or equipment trial/demonstration.

Qualify

For the pile of new contacts, you can reach out to try to understand their ‘fit’ with your product and their level of interest. Create some premium content and offer it up to see who takes the bait. For example, create a video, webinar, ebook or a persuasive, authoritative in-depth report on a relevant topic would be rewarded with more information about your prospect and the challenges they are facing.

Not everyone will bite. If they don’t respond to the offer, continue nurturing them in a manner that is not time consuming or aggressive and in their face. In other words, set up an automatic lead nurturing campaign to guide them through their research and consideration phases, while educating your market and building trust and expertise.

Automatic Lead Nurturing

Marketing automation is the use of software technology to integrate and automatically measure marketing tasks and workflows, in order to enhance operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.

Drip Campaigns are a form of lead nurturing, that ‘drips’ relevant information over time or as triggered by a lead’s action. They are usually conducted via email, although these days there are other great options out there such as ClickSend and Lob that allow physical mail and postcards to be sent as easily as email.

Setting up some marketing automation prior to an event and having it ready to go afterwards, whilst your product, name and company are fresh in delegates minds is a great strategy to follow.

Marketing Automation

Drip Campaigns are effective and efficient because the ongoing processes are largely automated. Largely, I say. Not entirely. Human oversight is still important to ensure that the correct messages are being transmitted, to the right people. Good communication needs to be two-way, so having people on hand to speak with and engage a user is paramount to the ultimate effectiveness.

Relevance

A well-planned drip campaign could be very simple, but it will hit the mark when it is relevant to the user.

Most automation software allows you to provision many divergent flows, so it’s easy to communicate in an increasingly relevant way based on the feedback gained from a generic email list members behaviour and interactions.

Be Remembered

There are many industries in which a person will seek information from various competitors, and will make a purchase decision within a predictable amount of time. A regular (albeit not pestilent) level of dripped information, especially educational and comparison-based, will help build product knowledge and trust, and keep you squarely at the forefront of their consideration set.

Ensure Your Drip Campaign is a Success

The mantra of good marketing is targeting, segmenting, and positioning.

You can run drip campaigns if you have one product to offer or several products. For example: let’s say you have a list of email addresses, names and companies, ideally collected during a recent event. You can determine from your product portfolio, which are the best products to offer to each industry. Let’s say your highest margin product is a dental 3D X-Ray machine.

Your segment is the dental practice owners and managers.

  • Create a series of educational pages about the benefits of 3D technology in diagnosing and treating patients. You also create a few case studies and videos of the machines in use at different practices.
  • Gather testimonial from dentists and patients about the ease-of-use and usefulness of the machine.
  • Then, of course, you create product landing pages which contain product features and benefits, customer and patient testimonial, comparison tables between competitor products and pricing information. You have included warranties and guarantees and support details so that a cautious customer can feel confident that they are making the right purchase decision.
  • Lastly, you decide to create content that thanks the purchaser with a Gold Card, reminds and reinforces that they have made a good decision with further testimonials from other users, and connect them in with an incentivised online survey.

Then it is a case of dripping pieces of content, based on the user’s behaviour, through the sales funnel to the ultimate post-purchase evaluation. This campaign won’t necessarily stop after a purchase either. At this stage the user should become part of a different target group: customers to keep satisfied and be rewarded for their loyalty. Delight them and you will be rewarded with quality referrals and more business in the future! Remember, people talk.

Spam Act

It goes without saying that being flagged as a spammer is no way to do good business. All commercial electronic messages need to comply with Australia’s Spam Act 2003. In particular key elements of the Spam Act outline that parts of a commercial message must include your business’s name, consent to email the person, and a functional unsubscribe facility.

Of course we recommend that you do your own research or make sure that you’re working with a reputable marketing agency that not only understands your business, but also the underlying legal requirements that surround marketing in your region of the world.

Software

There are plenty of amazing SAAS platforms to help kickstart your marketing automation.

At the top end you can use ERP’s or dedicated offerings such as Marketo or — if you want the cream of the crop, HubSpot.

Our personal recommendations for affordability in a great package are Autopilot, or the excellent open source (and free) Mautic. If you’re ready to commit to something more serious we recommend HubSpot. As a partner agency we can help you out if you decide to go down this path.

If you’re convinced of the benefits but feel a little overwhelmed feel free to reach out and contact us for a chat!

Danielle Spinks

Danielle Spinks

Writes about business & marketing strategy, psychology, and communication. | M. Marketing | BA Comms & Media

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