Jenny Ellenbecker is the Tradeshow Manager for Ellenbecker Communications. She has planned and executed tradeshow strategies for clients for over a decade, including for some of the biggest expos in the mining, construction and oil and gas industries.
In an earlier blog post, I talked about how important it is to target your pre-show marketing to the few hundred or few thousand people—both customers and prospective customers— that matter most to your success. But how do you do that, once you have identified your target audience and customized a message that talks directly to them?
The medium matters.
When I say medium, I am referring the actual marketing piece that is carrying your carefully crafted message. Is it an eblast? Is it a postcard? Is it something more exotic?
I’m not going to talk much about eblasts, mainly because everyone does them, and because there are so many issues that can derail or dilute their effectiveness. They can be caught by the recipient’s spam filter and never get a chance to do their job. Even if they make it into the inbox, the email program may block any active content or the awesome graphics your artist worked so hard to create. Some of them get through, and some are actually read by the recipient, and this may well be worth the time and expense. Like an ad in a magazine, they are a way to get a general message in front of a lot of people. We approach every eblast on a case by case basis.
I should probably add that I’m not talking about targeted emails here—we consider them to be something quite different from an eblast. By its nature, an eblast is general and “blasts” out to a large list. A targeted email goes to one person at a time, or to a small group of people. And these are generally people who are used to getting an email from you and are likely to read your message.
But there is an “old school” message-delivery system that we still like here at Ellcom—Direct Mail (DM.) A DM piece can be crafted to stand out from all the other physical mail a prospect gets. Maybe by the creative use of shapes or colors or copy you can stand out from the crowd. Or perhaps you can include a small promotional item, or send an invitation in the same format as a birthday or holiday card—those almost always get opened! DM is not always appropriate—but it is another option to consider when sending to a relatively small, targeted group of recipients.
And finally, you may consider actual phone calls to invite a few dozen or even a few hundred special customers or prospects. Either the salesperson for an area or a marketing person may make these simple calls—the fact is that most of the calls will likely roll to voicemail, where you can leave a brief, warm invitation to a special event you are hosting, or perhaps just an invitation to see your new equipment at your booth. This is an unusually personal touch that can help your message stand out from all the background static that surrounds a major tradeshow.