To attend or not to attend an event
Because they are randomly chosen and fairly expensive, b2b events rarely produce any spectacular results. Some experts believe that they’re a real gold mine of information on competition and thir new products/services, not to mention a terrific networking opportunity. If, however, you company has, alike many, attended a trade show in your field of expertise and has come back with a bag full of business cards, but no real leads or relevant information, then you’re probably in the ‘club’ of people who view event-attending as a waste of time and money.
Turning tradeshows into a valuable opportunity
If you want trade shows to result in leads and valuable contacts, you must change your angle of view a little. Attending as an exhibitor often implies high cost and little or no positive outcome. There are better ways of promoting your company, such as e-mailing or direct mailing. The advantages of tradeshows appear when you attend as a ‘plain’ visitor.
What is boothhunting
Exactly what the name describes. It refers to ‘hunting’ for potential clients who are there as exhibitors. If you set the goal of generating leads, you have to look for events in your client’s line of work in order to ‘hunt’ for the interesting ones. Tough the idea of trying to sell a product or service to someone who is actually there to sell something to you might seem ‘built for failure’, the method truly works.
Boot-hunting vs. exhibiting – Why ‘hunt’ at tradeshows
· Booth-hunting is considerably cheaper;
· It doesn’t take as much of your time;
· The CEO of targeted companies will be present at important events where the company exhibits, so there’s a good opportunity to meet him face to face;
· You can’t approach prospects if you’re there exhibiting.
How it’s done
· Choosing the trade show
The bigger the event and the more prospect companies there, the better. As a rule, it’s not worth attending a trade show if at least 20% of the companies exhibiting are not firms you’d like to work with.
One you’ve chosen the event, you have to plan your run. There are too many things to do in too little time, so you can’t afford to ‘figure it out when you get there’., Get a list of attendees and put together your own list of ‘tradeshow attractions’.
One you know which companies you want to approach at the event, document on them a little. You can’t appear in front of a firm you know nothing about and expect to interest the in your services. Go online and gather some basic info: CEO’s name, what are the services or products the company provides, who it provides them for, etc.
· At the trade show
Companies exhibiting are there to sell, make themselves more notorious, and will not up their time too lightly in order to listen to you. That’s why you’ll never get their attention if you start going on and on about yourself, while ‘bombarding’ everyone with company brochures. Show interest in the product/service the prospect is selling and ask lots of questions about their company, and only in the end give them your business card and say no more than one sentence about your company. In a small notebook or on the back of the business card they give you remember to take notes regarding that firm and the conversation you had. It will help you later with following-up.
Also remember not to ignore the press, which will surely be present at the trade show. Give them less of your time then you do to networking with prospects, but keep in mind that contacts in this filed are also important. Often, reporters sent on site will ask visitors for their opinion. Do not hesitate to give yours if you are asked, and maybe even start a conversation and exchange business cards. You never know when it’ll help, but it surely will.
This part is one of the most important steps in boothhunting if you want to be sure you didn’t just waste your time on useless small-talk. The ideal time for following-up is two weeks after the tradeshow.
Do not make the mistake of sending an e-mail containing nothing other than an impersonal greeting and an immense list of your company’s products/services. It will sound like spam and ‘move’ nobody. Give it a more personal note by addressing them directly, using their names, be short about it and use no more than one line to describe you company.
Booth hunting is a way of interacting directly with prospect company’s CEOs that turns in very good results provided you plan ahead a little and follow some basic rules. Surely a great alternative for the less efficient and more expensive ‘plain’ exhibiting.