By Ed Pierce, Fleet Industry Marketer
The year 2020 will go into the annals as disruptive for both the fleet industry and fleet industry marketing. One need look no further than the havoc created by the fallout both economically and operationally to companies with fleets, fleet service providers, and relevant trade associations.
Yet, with all of the change, trade associations like NAFA, AFLA, NETS, and others have quickly adapted to the event industry’s new normal to allow marketers to benefit from virtual conference participation.
As mentioned in previous years’ “Call to Action” columns, exhibitor participation can shorten the typically long sales cycle decision-making time. It can help initiate or bolster relationships between sales and multiple sourcing team members. It also provides a unique opportunity for captive-audience product differentiators or user experience demonstrations.
In this pandemic-crippled customer engagement period of limited travel and zero face-to-face meetings, where sales reps maintain relationships through email, messaging, or phone calls, a virtual conference is a welcome alternative.
Studies show that conference attendance places “meeting the rep” as a critical reason to attend. From the exhibitor’s point of view, the contact can help move a prospect through the sales process.
A Complete Conference Marketing Effort
Pre-show promotion, the first step in a complete conference marketing program, draws attendees to the booth. Studies show that only 20 percent of booth visits are the result of “happenstance.”
Studies show that a vendor’s rep initiates over 89 percent of the booth engagements! Exhibitors need a pre-show outreach program to customers and prospects by sales reps to arrange meetings – in the booth or at other conference social activities.
Identifying each customer’s or prospect’s agenda and strategizing a customer-specific message using sales tools, demos, and so on is more effective than merely spouting an information dump.
Virtual Conferences Deliver Real Value
When the pandemic first took hold, trade association members, other fleet decision-makers, and exhibitors certainly had misgivings about any conference’s viability. However, trade associations have done a great job organizing valuable events with compelling agendas and networking opportunities.
Given the ability to “attend” a conference without leaving home, there is every reason to believe that many decision-makers will take advantage of a virtual event, ensuring real value for exhibitors and sponsors.
If you have any recommendations about successful exhibit strategies, or if you care to share your experiences at each of the upcoming conferences, write to me at edpierce@ITAcommunications.com.