How to Rock the Trade Show: From Introduction to Follow-up Emails (With Templates)
Trade shows are a great place to build relationships and generate leads. Many companies pay top prices for tickets, fly their teams out, and invest in a show table. This is all important for the trade show – but what happens after?
Studies show that less than 70% of exhibitors have a plan or process in place for following up with potential leads. Talk about a wasted opportunity.
Here’s how to prepare for a trade show, make the most of it while you’re there, and send effective follow-up emails afterward.
Before the Trade Show: Set Yourself Up for Success
Before you even buy tickets for a trade show, start with some quick research. Even if your company goes to this trade show every year, it’s worth confirming that the most important sponsors and attendees will be there. You might also want to check which of your competitors will be there and what they plan to promote.
Once you’ve done that, decide on your main goals for being at the trade show. Common goals might include boosting brand awareness, generating leads, or promoting a new product or service.
These goals should influence what you bring to the table – literally. Consider which product brochures, resources, and other materials you should have on hand to support your message.
Be sure you’ve got a plan to manage the information about the contacts you meet, too. Choose a CRM to help you manage the names, email addresses, companies, and other information of the people you meet.
Finally, get ahead of your competition by promoting the fact that you’ll be at the trade show. Leverage your social media and email marketing channels to get people excited and interested in visiting your table.
Use these efforts to connect with potential leads on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to use this opportunity to chat with ‘gatekeepers’ as well. Sometimes they’ll be managing the table while your target lead is at private networking events.
Time to Shine – How to Make the Most of the Trade Show
You probably already know that trade shows are a massive marketing opportunity. Even better, 82% of trade show attendees have the authority to buy. This means eight out of every ten conversations you have could potentially lead to a sale.
But don’t get ahead of yourself. It’s important to get a rapport going and focus on building relationships first and foremost. Engage with people genuinely and make your conversation memorable.
If your conversation relates to a relevant product, service, or even informational resource you have, don’t be shy. Bring it up and let them know you’d love to send more information to them via email. This gives you a natural opening to contact them again after the show.
Once your prospect walks away, immediately take notes on the details of your conversation. Write down business items like their products, services, and business challenges.
It’s also important to jot down personal notes, like if they have kids on summer break or a passion for golf. These personal topics will help spark the memory of your conversation later on.
After the Trade Show – Keep the Rapport Going
Alright, so you’ve nailed the trade show. Now it’s time for an awesome follow-up email.
Write a Subject Line That References Your Conversation
Write a short and sweet subject line. Avoid the words “invite,” “join,” and “confirm,” as they are some of the most ineffective words to include.
Throw in their name, too. Research shows that personalizing your subject line can increase open rates by 50%.
Emails with high open rates typically have 41 characters, or around seven words.
Don’t forget to make it clear that it’s a follow-up email. Some trade shows share the emails of their attendees, so your prospect might be flooded with cold emails from the show. “Hello Jim – following up on [Topic from Trade Show]” is much better than “John from XYZ – would love to chat.”
Keep the Body of the Email Short, Sweet, and to the Point
Keep the body of your email short as well. Your main goal is to spark their memory of you and get a response.
Remind them who you are and what you discussed at the trade show. Then, remind them of what you and your company can do for them, keeping it relevant to your previous discussion.
If you promised an informative resource, be sure to include it in this email as well. Instead of an attachment, try to give them a link to your website. A link might encourage them to click around and learn more.
Finally, give them an easy and straightforward call-to-action. Your CTA could be scheduling a meeting, linking them to a product demo, or asking them to name their single biggest challenge.
Whatever You Do – Don’t Do These Things
In your excitement to reconnect, it’s easy to make a few key mistakes. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Don’t flag your emails as high priority. This feels spammy and unnecessarily pushy.
Don’t give them more than one CTA. Based on the original goals you set, decide on the most important CTA – and only include one. Avoid making it overly complicated or requiring multiple steps.
Don’t follow up many times in quick succession. They may be waiting for an end-of-week meeting with their boss to discuss your email, or doing a bit of research before responding.
Don’t forget to include a detailed email signature. Your email signature should include a phone number and physical address for your business. Include a link to your website and any other ways you can be contacted, such as Skype, LinkedIn, and others.
Having this info readily available will make it easy for them to contact you if they choose to reach out themselves.
Slow and Steady – Give It a Few Days
Take your time sending your first follow-up email. In the days after the show, they might still be traveling or be swamped with follow-up work of their own.
As a general rule, two or three days is a good amount of time to wait before sending your first follow-up email. You should then extend the wait period by a few days for each subsequent email.
Once Is Never Enough
Don’t forget to follow up more than once – you’ll increase your chances of success.
In your subsequent emails, focus on the value you can offer. Keep it personalized to the prospect and try to build on your past conversations.
If they’re giving you nothing to work with, look for other conversation starters. Talk about relevant industry news, new offerings you may have, or ask if they’ll be at another upcoming conference.
Sample Trade Show Follow-up Email Templates
Now that all your bases are covered, here are some templates you can use to get your conversation off on the right foot.
Subject Line: Hi [Prospect First Name], It Was Nice Meeting You
It was great talking to you at [Trade Show]. I said I’d send [XYZ resource] along, so please find that [linked here/attached below].
I heard from many companies at the show that [name a relevant pain point]. In the past year, we’ve worked with companies like [name similar companies] to help them [name the number-one benefit you can provide]. I think it’s worth exploring how we can create these results for [prospect’s company name] as well.
I’d like to schedule a call so we can chat more about your needs.
I’m available [provide two date/time options] – which would work better for you?
Looking forward to speaking soon,
Here’s another version that’s more detailed so you can see it in action.
Let’s be honest – going to trade shows can be expensive. Make sure its worth your while by having a plan for following up. These emails can help build credibility, solidify relationships, and close sales.
Share this guide with your colleagues to help prepare your team for your next trade show, and feel free to share your own tips in the comments below: