By Ed Pierce, Fleet Industry Marketer
In the April 7, 2015 edition of the Fleet Management Weekly e-newsletter, I summarized the steps necessary to ensure success at the fleet industry’s biggest exhibition event – the NAFA I&E.
Entitled “It’s Not Too late,” the article made clear that the preliminary work needs to start well before the conference!
Here is a more complete chronology of the “best practices” NAFA I&E exhibitors should adopt every year:
12 Months Before the Next I&E:
1. Identify the role the NAFA I&E serves in supporting your company’s marketing and sales strategy and, more broadly, your corporate strategic plan.
2. As part of that assessment, develop a detailed trade show budget and ROI forecast to obtain management approval.
3. Have sales complete post-NAFA report immediately after NAFA I&E’s end to judge the value of the company’s activities for marketing and management review. These reports help to determine the level of involvement for the next year’s NAFA I&E.
4. Exhibitors who receive a NAFA list of attendees should update their CRM, send out an email to these attendees as well as to their prospect and account database that summarizes the successes at the conference.
5. Since booth selection for NEXT year happens at THIS year’s show, you should have management consensus on the latitude decision-makers have to reserve a better location or a bigger booth in 2017.
6 to 12 Months before the Conference
1. Track booth visitor traffic, lead progress, sales rep satisfaction with the opportunities, competitive activities, and industry buzz resulting from the just-completed conference.
2. Measure success of other conference investments – giveaways, technology, product demonstrations, customer dinners, sponsorships, special events in the same way as the exhibit, quantifying value as much as possible.
3. If planning prospect/customer dinners during next year’s I&E, consider options and lock in venues as early as possible, keeping in mind NAFA rules and regulations regarding these non-NAFA events.
4. Work with sales to develop a mailing/e-mailing list for NAFA-related promotion of NAFA-specific company activities, product or service introductions, and especially the exhibit and exhibit-specific activities (product demonstrations, guests, presentations).
5. Submit your NAFA I&E educational session ideas, which must be educational, not promotional. The best sessions feature experts, including fleet managers, rather than just speakers from your company. They involve multiple perspectives that avoid the look of a “commercial.”
3 to 6 Months Before the Conference
1. Develop an ongoing marketing effort to promote your company’s NAFA activities, using direct mail, segmented e-mail blasts, newsletters, blogs, short-term advertising ‘NAFA booth’ copy, and the corporate website.
2. Write a compelling sales message that communicates the key points about your exhibit in 30 seconds or less. You and your staff will need to rehearse this message and use it confidently at your booth to maximize your effectiveness.
3. Determine your exhibit design, layout and graphics needs. You can hire a company to handle design and production or take a more hands-on approach by using web-based exhibition design software to create the look and configuration of your display before handing it over to an exhibit house.
4. Identify high-impact trade show giveaways and promotional strategies you will use to attract visitors to your display area.
5. Determine the literature and marketing materials that need to be developed to support the show and begin design and printing work.
6. Work with sales to keep the mailing/e-mail list up-to-date as reps promote your company’s participation at NAFA, confirm prospect or customer attendance and extend invitations.
From 3 Months until Conference Begins (April 19th)
1. Confirm who is attending the show from your company. What IT staff, customer service people, management and sales reps are necessary to support the booth during exhibit hours and company events? If a sales rep has not arranged any customer or prospect meetings, why go?
2. Release a NAFA I&E information packet for all company attendees with NAFA schedule of events; company activities and assignments (especially booth duty and competitive information-gathering). Explain what sales reps’ post-NAFA activity reports should include: Customer/prospect names? Meeting locations? Sales objectives? Goals achieved?
3. Finalize media interviews for your executives or SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) with all pertinent press (who marketing has already determined will be there).
4. Double check that all registration, exhibit, marketing and event logistics are planned, on schedule and under control before departure.
5. Use your social media pages — especially pictures and video — to promote your company’s presence and plans for the coming week’s on-site digital social media reports.
6. On the first day of the I&E, send out a broadcast “welcome” email to customers and prospects while highlighting the scope of the company’s conference involvement. As applicable, promote corporate sponsorship; the company’s Expo exhibit, any drawings or giveaways, educational session participation by managers or customers, and any company outings or dinners. Be sure to provide on-site contact company contact information!
7. Conduct a pre-exhibit hall opening meeting in your exhibit for sales and support staff. Topics to cover include the manning schedule; the roles of sales, IT, or other representatives in the booth; the exhibit theme or message; the demonstration process; giveaways or drawing requirements; available literature; lead collection; and any special handling of certain visitors.
8. Sales should pursue face-to-face opportunities to drive customers to the booth and company events, especially education sessions involving company and customer presenters. Impress upon the entire team NOT to drag fleet managers away from NAFA’s official events!This ongoing problem reflects poorly on the offending company and all affiliates.
9. Don’t miss your Exhibit Space for NAFA 2017 reservation opportunity! Size up the competition and traffic patterns, then decide if you want a better location or bigger footprint.
1. Disseminate leads to sales reps and add to CRM, noting NAFA I&E as the source, to allow segmented communication going forward.
If you have any questions, comments or opinions that you’d like to share, write to me at edpierce@ITAcommunications.com.