Event marketing. What a phenomenal platform to market your business face-to-face! It’s hard work. It’s expensive. I know. I’ve produced a few shows and been an exhibitor many, many times. At one point I did 10 shows a year moving 2,000 pounds of magazines twice during every show. It was a workout. For the most part it was fun…and extremely productive!

Being an exhibitor at an expo or show event, gives you a chance to meet your potential customers face-to-face. This is a huge benefit! People love to tell you what they love about your business and they readily give you the feedback you need to improve your business. Just ask. They’ll tell you!

Creating customer engagement at a show is a must. One of the engagement “tricks of the trade” is to offer a register-to-win contest at your booth. You’ve seen them. You’ve probably participated in a few; register for a free trip or expensive give-away is a prime example. This “trick” is an email tactic used to get potential prospects to stop and talk to you at your booth. And, when visitors offer up their email address for a freebie, they’ve given you permission to send emails from now until eternity. (Or, at least until they unsubscribe.) It’s a worthwhile tactic IF the prospect is a qualified prospect.

email tacticSecuring a private email address is a valuable first step because the sale doesn’t always happen at the show. The show is just the beginning of the relationship. When a person shares their email address with you, they’ve given you permission to follow-up and promote your business. Email marketing picks up where the event leaves off and puts the customer on the path to purchase bringing them into a relationship with you.

But, there’s a downside to these register-to-win tactics. The email addresses you gather may not be the quality of prospects you’re looking for. What you more likely have is a lookie-loo. A tire-kicker. Someone wanting your freebie and cares nothing about what you do. They just want to grab your free stuff, drop it in their bag and move on to the next free offer.

You know who I’m talking about. Not exactly a qualified prospect…right?

You can’t avoid the lookie-loos but their participation creates a false positive in your email gathering scheme. You might walk away from the show with 100 or 1,000 email addresses but if all they want is to win your free 3-day trip to Cancun, you have nothing.

Worse yet, when they don’t win the big prize they are likely to unsubscribe from your list and worse yet, report your email as spam!

So, what do you do with the email addresses you gathered by a register-to-win tactic at the show?

  1. Create an email database from your show leads base right away. The best possible scenario is to do the work that night while resting in your hotel room or the Monday immediately following the event.
  2. Proof read your list for typos. You wouldn’t believe the typos we see! Incorrect domain extensions. No extensions at all. Incorrect spelling…even when the name is included in the data collection. It’s basic but it bears mentioning. Accurate typing is a must.
  3. Send an email announcing your winner from your own email server within 1-2 days of the event. Do not run this new list through your email marketing automated software. Remember, these are people looking for free stuff. If they didn’t win, they don’t care. These email addresses are more likely to bounce or be reported as spam. That’s a sure way to get yourself black listed as an emailer.
  4. Create an alternate offer. What can you offer as an alternative that will help you sift through the lookie-loos and connect with real prospects? Is it a coupon discount? A how-to manual? A free 3-day course? Add the alternate offer in your announcement email and drive the reader to your website landing page where they can opt-in to your offer and download it right away. The possibilities are limited only by your creativity.

By now you might be rethinking your event marketing strategy. If so, that’s a double-bonus for reading this far. Truth be told, it isn’t producing for you as well as you’ hoped for.

Come up with a truly relevant offer to market at the show. If possible, make it easy for prospects to sign up on the spot. If the show is using the scanning software, invest in it. It’s worth your time and money to simply scan a badge and get all of the prospects information—including an accurate email address.

Be selective. Be specific. Zero in on an offer that resonates with the kind of customers you want to work with. Who is your Perfect Customer? Make it an offer that your Perfect Customer needs such as a service or price offer related to your product.

Event marketing works.

Email marketing works.

Marry the two and you have a marriage made in heaven.

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