It always amazes me at how few people do real, proactive marketing to trade show attendees at the events they attend. As an exhibitor and attendee at the Direct Marketing Associations (DMA) Conference and Exhibition, I received quite a bit of mail. But not nearly as much as I thought I would have being this was the DIRECT MARKETING trade show. They’re lose I guess.
In this month’s example I show a letter we sent to DMA show attendees to drive them to our booth and request, “The Definitive Guide to Using 3D Mail in Your Marketing Campaigns.” You can see a copy of the letter here.
Our only goal of this letter was to get people to show up to our booth and request the guide. Any sales we made at the show were a far distant second on the priority list. We briefly introduce price, but nothing specific to any one product.
This was deliberate to keep away people only wanting the cheapest stuff out there. The last thing we wanted was people coming up to the booth and comparing our 3D Mail products to the cheapest postcard you can find. If that’s what they were after, we’re not for them and they may as well stay away.
We followed the tried and true problem/agitate/solve format for the letter. In this format, you remind your target market of the problem they are having. In our case they had lousy, or less-than-stellar results in their direct mail. Or they are looking for something new to spice up an old, dying sequence and finding it difficult to reverse the failing trend. For a more “real world example,” maybe it’s the fact that they are constantly slicing the golf ball when they go out golfing.
Then you agitate the problem. By agitate, I mean discussing why having this problem is so problematic and bothersome to your reader. Since I’m using a golf analogy, it could be something like, “That nasty slice is not only embarrassing, it’s likely costing you 8-12 stokes per round.”
Lastly, you tell them how your product or service solves their problem. This will be product specific but here’s a sample of a possible solution: “In my e-book, I reveal the 5 most common causes of the golf slice and give simple drills to correct each one… Forever!”
Stepping away from the letter, I’m always amazed at how few people actually “work the aisles” at a trade show. Looking at the booths around us, and checking out the other exhibitors a few times during the show, very few people actually try to entice you into their booth and try and sell to you. The majority of the attendees of this kind of show are coming to be sold to. They go predisposed to listen to you and what you have to say. Their mere presence gives you all the permission you need to try and sell them everything you’ve got that they need.
When we go to a show, we work the aisles. And I’d bet this month’s paycheck we got more leads per square foot of booth space at this show than anybody at the show.
We quickly found the key to working the aisle was to show a passing attendee the bottle, and asking them if they received the bottle in the mail last week. It was a very easy, very simply and non-intrusive way to start a conversation. Very few said yes or no immediately and kept walking. The vast majority stopped, whether they had received it or not, and looked at the bottle, gave us an answer, and then happily stepped into the booth to talk about it. We’d then ask a few probing questions to gauge interest and see if they’re a person we’d even want to send our guide.
Usually within 30-60 seconds we had a good lead, who gave us permission to send them our information, and we were able to build some level of rapport, even if small, for future marketing.
When you go to a trade show, go to sell. It’s why you’re there. You may not be making an actual “sign on the dotted line” sale (maybe your are), but you’re selling something. In this case we were simply asking permission to continue to market to them and make them aware of our presence. With this, you better have some great follow up via mail, but that’s another discussion for another day. If just a few of these leads turn into good clients, it will be a show well worth attending.
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Here are just a few samples of letters you can use to get you started using the message-in-a bottle:
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