The lyrics from “It’s Late” by Queen’s Brian May really fit the marketing challenge for fleet service and product providers headed to NAFA I&E next week: it is too late to realize all of the marketing value that comes from the industry’s biggest conference. But, it’s not too late to do the best job possible given that this is the eleventh hour.
Let’s approach the steps chronologically from April 6th onwards, keeping in mind that the term “marketing” in our B2B world revolves around your sales team.
April 6th: Have your sales team submit the names of all customers and prospects they should have contacted to see if they planned on attending. Did they set a time to meet at the booth (or elsewhere) and what is the sales objective of the get-together? If a sales rep has few or no customer or prospect meetings, why is he or she going? The same question should be asked of other company representatives because the value of NAFA is simply to win new business or retain existing business.
April 6th: 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?
April 6th – 10th: Verify that the requisite number of company attendees are assigned to attend all NAFA and company events.
April 6th – 10th: Finalize media interviews for your executives or SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) with all pertinent press (who marketing has already determined will be there).
April 6th – 10th: Double check that all registration, exhibit, marketing and event logistics are planned, on schedule and under control before departure.
April 6th – 10th: Use your social media pages to promote your company’s presence and plans for the coming week’s on-site digital social media reports.
April 7th – 9th: Send out a broadcast email from management to all customers and prospects welcoming them to Orlando while highlighting your corporate sponsorship (when applicable), encouraging them to visit your company’s exhibit (incentive to promote?) or sponsored event, promoting a corporate theme tied to NAFA, promoting your team’s involvement in any educational sessions, inviting them to join a company event, and providing contact company contact information (hotline for attendees) during show.
April 13th – 17th: Conduct a pre-exhibit hall opening meeting in your exhibit to explain to sales and support staff the process for handling visitors. What are the roles of sales, IT, or other representative? What is the exhibit theme or message? How will visitors be handled? Demo? Giveaways? Literature and its use? The best use of SMEs? Presentations? Leads collected? Are there special visits that need to be strategized?
April 13th – 17th: Sales must use face-to-face opportunities to drive customers to exhibit, to NAFA and company events, especially education sessions involving company presenters. Be sure company representatives bring customers and prospects to educational sessions involving their own presenters. Do NOT drag fleet managers away from NAFA’s official events even if it’s a great day for golf! Fleet managers raise this issue every year in their post-event surveys even if they don’t raise the issue with you! The practice reflects poorly on all affiliates.
April 13th – 17th: Company marketing effort begins to communicate company and NAFA activities during the conference. Remember: photos and video garner more views.
April 13th – 17th: Exhibit space for NAFA 2016 selection process begins at the 2015 show! If you want a better space, be prepared to make some decisions!
April 22st: Sales complete post-NAFA report for marketing and management review. These reports will help determine the level of involvement for 2016 NAFA.
April – May: Exhibitors who obtain NAFA list of attendees should conduct a post-show summary that promotes the company’s NAFA activities for both attendees and those who could not attend.
May: Respond to “NAFA Request for Presentations” for 2016 NAFA educational sessions. The NAFA Curriculum Committee makes its decisions about the following year’s education schedule in June! All presentations will be confirmed in June or July and work gets started over the summer.
May – December: Depending on the city, the number of acceptable venues, and the size of the event, planning and reservations for company events can start as early as May.
September – December: Company determines level of involvement and commensurate budget.
January – March: Management provides definitive direction, and marketing develops promotional campaign – advertising, public relations, digital marketing, direct communications and more. Pre-show customer communications and invitations begin. Sales begin process of tracking planned attendance and promotion of company events.
As always, if you have a specific marketing issue or question, contact me at ITA Fleet Communications, Phone: 610–585-0801, Email: EdPierce@ITAfleetcommunications.com.
With decades of B2B sales and marketing success, Ed has served fleet product and service providers with strategic plan-related market research and integrated sales & marketing programs that significantly increased market penetration; brand management that markedly improved both awareness and positioning; and B2B sales support that helped sales exceed plan year in and year out.
Ed now leads ITA Fleet Communications – a fleet-focused consulting firm helping excellent product and service providers achieve excellent results through innovative and effective integrated sales and marketing.