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Getting MORE From Trade Shows and Job Fairs

More Clients. More Candidates. MORE ROI!

It's almost trade show season. That time between September and November when nearly every association holds their annual events.

In staffing and recruiting, trade shows (and job fairs) can be one of your most valuable marketing tools…if you leverage them effectively.

Top Five Conference Marketing Mistakes

Before we get to the things you should do, let's start with the most common conference marketing blunders we see.


Mistake #1:
Just showing up and hoping for traffic at the booth.

Ain't gonna happen!

At a trade show or a job fair, you are one of dozens or even hundreds of other exhibitors. If you want to attract employers and/or job seekers, you need to be more strategic before...and during…the conference (more on this is a minute).


Mistake #2:
Lousy booth design.

Think of your display like a billboard. The conference attendees are like speeding cars passing by. How will you get people to slam on the brakes and stop off for a bit?

Hint: 400 words of text in a tiny font won't do it. With your booth display, LESS is more!


Mistake #3:
Email only preshow marketing.

In a less than two months, we'll be headed to Staffing World, the biggest conference in the staffing industry. There will be close to 150 companies exhibiting along with Haley Marketing, and about 90 percent of them will send an email to every attendee with a generic message to "meet us at our booth."

Here's the problem. 135 emails that scream "meet us at our booth" equals a lot of deafening noise that results in few, if any, people planning to visit your booth. When it comes to preshow marketing, email alone won't do.


Mistake #4:
Untrained or unmotivated booth staff.

Why do so many "sales people" go to a tradeshow, and then just sit in their booth? Don't they care about selling? Didn't anyone teach them what to do?

At any conference, sales happen outside the booth. At breakfast. During lunch. Over cocktails. And even in the wee hours of the evening with the diehard bar hounds.

No, you don't have to be a raging alcoholic to succeed, but you do have to get out and mingle, especially during the early parts of the show. And when you are at the booth, you have be the one to engage people wandering the aisles.


Mistake #5:
No follow-up.

Something like 60 percent of tradeshow leads never receive a follow-up call. 60 percent!

That's nuts.

If you've invested to go to an event, made the effort to collect cards, have a damn follow-up plan. Call. Email. Connect on LinkedIn. And be sure to give people a reason to want to talk to you again.

When following up, put the message in context. Ideally, be specific about what you discussed at the conference. Be clear (and concise) about the value you can offer, and then schedule the next call or meeting.

And don't limit follow-up to one attempt. Have a plan to nurture prospects over several months. For our team at Haley Marketing, we track the results of a big conference over 6-plus months because that's how long it takes to get leads to convert.

How to Make Every Event a Success

Set goals.

  • How much revenue do you have to close to justify the cost of exhibiting?
  • How many new clients or candidates do you need to generate that revenue?

Be more than an exhibitor.

  • Ideally, become a speaker. Nothing builds credibility (or booth traffic) like speaking!(If you are headed to Staffing World in Chicago this year, Brad Smith and I will be doing an opening session titled How Not to Sell Staffing).
  • Host a private event for your clients and/or prospects. Having a little “private time” with your clients is an ideal way to strengthen relationships and discuss new ideas.
  • Co-sponsor an event. You get the benefit of more personal interaction with your clients and the clients of your co-sponsors.

Have a strategy.

  • Who are your “A” prospects?
  • Why would people want to meet with you?
  • Where can you engage clients and prospects at the conference?
  • How can you reach people before and during the event?
  • How will you follow up after?

Invest in multistep, multidimensional preshow marketing.

  • Send something people can’t resist opening (package, FedEx).
  • Deliver value with your marketing (something educational and/or fun).
  • Give people a reason to stop your booth. Better yet, ask people to preschedule a time to meet.
  • Call, email and connect on LinkedIn with every person on your mailing list.
  • Schedule appointments in advance (don’t wait to get to the show to plan a time).
  • Trade cell phone numbers with prospects, so you can connect at the show.
  • As soon as you get to the event, confirm appointments. If you don’t have a cell phone for your prospects, call their rooms at the hotel.

Create a social media strategy to compliment your marketing efforts.

  • Plan the content you will live tweet at the conference.
  • Upload the attendee list to LinkedIn and connect with everyone.
  • Send 1:1 messages via LinkedIn to invite key prospects to meet.
  • Live tweet during the event.
  • Connect with others who are tweeting, and invite them to in-person meetings.
  • Hold a meetup for your clients.
  • Post pictures of the event on Facebook or Instagram.
  • Create a Snap filter for the event.
  • Blog about the event before and after.

Make your booth compelling.

  • Turn your booth into an eye-catching billboard.
  • Forget the pens. Find a giveaway that people actually want.
  • Bring the right sales collateral. Ideally, something specific for the show.
  • Train your team to work the booth.

Work the room.

  • Get out and chat with attendees.
  • Attend the sessions.
  • Don’t sit with co-workers during meals.
  • Attend the after-hours parties.
  • Network with other exhibitors.

Gather intelligence.

  • Collect cards…and take notes about each person.
  • If you expect a lot of traffic, invest in a lead capture or badge scanning system.
  • Attend sessions and learn more about your industry.

Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

  • Send a follow-up email 1 to 2 days after you get back.
  • Call within a week of returning home.
  • Develop an ongoing nurturing campaign (email, call, mail) to stay top-of-mind.
Take the next step

Let our team help guide your marketing strategy this year.