MPI Perspective - December 2009 - (Page 9)

Tradeshow Marketing How to Reach Corporate and Association Planners By Elizabeth B Brown Meeting Planner B Line Events, Inc. Year after year, following the annual MPINCC tradeshow, two very different but parallel viewpoints emerge from the exhibitor and attendee feedback. Exhibitors feel that the ratio of vendors to planners seems askew, making it difficult to contact their ideal customer in the crowd — the corporate and association planner. On the other hand, planners often complain of being bombarded by vendors at industry tradeshows and networking events. Some planners have even gone so far as to reverse their name badge in an effort to hide their company name when walking down tradeshow aisles. The points below are gathered from conversations with planners in an attempt to explore a middle ground, and identify tactics that exhibitors can employ to best market to corporate and association planners. exhibitors and the number of staff they can bring. For me personally, it is easier to make a connection when you are sitting down talking to just one or two people.” Sending Invitations It is essential to connect with existing contacts and clients prior to the show to let them know that you are exhibiting and the best times to stop by the booth. However, it is wise to keep some basic ground rules in mind when making initial contact, such as reviewing attendee lists, creating realistic appointment schedules and having the appropriate salesperson make contact. “The first step should be to review the attendee list,” says Mindy Gunn, senior event planner with Well Fargo’s Technology and Operations Group. “Don’t mail an invitation to visit your booth if you haven’t confirmed that the planner is attending the show. This indicates that some vendors have not taken the time to review the attendee lists.” Planners prefer to receive appointment requests via e-mail rather than phone calls or mail. E-mail allows planners to respond to an invitation on their own time and schedule. Another option is to set up a portal with a login or Facebook page where planners can view a list of the salespeople attending the show and schedule appointments. Keep in mind that one-on-one appointments do not need to be held outside of the tradeshow hours. Planners seem to like the concept of time slot appointments during tradeshow hours. Inviting attendees to stop by within a specified time window allows flexibility, but also increases the likelihood that you will connect the right salespeople with the appropriate customers. Devon Shaw, conference manager for USENIX Association comments, “A tradeshow I recently attended offered 10-minute time slot appointments for planners to meet with specific salespeople. This set up was effective and felt less overwhelming because it allowed me to focus on the MPINCCperspective | VOL. 28, NO. 3 | 9 Avoid Overwhelming the Planner Although the goal of exhibiting at any tradeshow is to maximize the number of qualified leads, it is important to remember that the key to a good lead is the initial connection with the attendee. A key strategy is for an exhibitor to connect on a personal level with an attendee before immediately trying to make a connection with their company name. Planners for large corporations and associations are accustomed to vendors equating dollar signs with their company name, so remember that you are meeting a person, not just a gatekeeper to a company or an association. Secondly, carefully consider the number of staff that you are sending to each show. Of course it is essential to have key salespeople attend, but a booth should never appear as though it is overflowing with its own staff. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when suddenly surrounded by five salespeople in matching shirts. “I have definitely felt bombarded at tradeshows in the past,” says Mike Dupuis, event manager for OSIsoft, Inc. “The best shows that I have been to have a vetting process for

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MPI Perspective - December 2009

MPI Perspective - December 2009
President’s Message
A Brand Apart
Tradeshow Marketing: How to Reach Corporate and Association Planners
Getting to know … Sheryl Sookman Schelter, CMP
Being Green Is Not a Destination
Member Pearls
Chapter Chatter
Sponsor Spotlight
Student Affairs Committee Spreading the Good Word of MPI
Index to Advertisers

MPI Perspective - December 2009