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Hospitality Exhibitors – Stop Wasting Your Time!

Business Woman Gets Frustrated with Lack of Research
It surprises me that in 2012, with all of the technology out there to help , too many hospitality sales and marketing managers still do not take the time to research contacts before they start marketing to them.

I recently participated in an association industry conference, by attending both as a delegate and exhibiting at the tradeshow.  A few days after the conference ended, I received the post-show delegate list, including both suppliers and professionals who attended.  This was at 3:00 PM in the afternoon.

By 11:00 PM that night, I had received an email from a fellow exhibitor.  The email thanked me for stopping by the booth.  Here is what is wrong with the scenario:
  1. The email I received was generic.  Knowing about various technologies, it was clear to me that this particular supplier simply uploaded the spreadsheet into their email software, sent the message to themselves, and blind copied everyone on the list.  There was NO personalization (i.e. Dear Meagan).  It was “Thanks for stopping by the booth”, and “Here are seven reasons to book a meeting with us”.
  2. I did not stop by their booth.  Although it was clear to me how and why I got this email, I have no idea who this person is.  While they did not personalize the message, and the tone of the message was general in nature, it was not unpleasant.  This person was definitely trying to be friendly, but it didn’t appeal to me because we  had never met.  And I am positive that there are more people on the list just like me.
  3. I am a supplier.  Not only did I not stop by their booth, I did not go to any booth, other than to wave at fellow colleagues who were at the show as well.  I have no business for this person!!!
I shudder to even think that this same person probably has uploaded this same spreadsheet into their CRM and now I’m going to start getting more useless information from them…

Can you imagine what the messaging could have looked like if it had been delivered to the right contacts, by doing some research first?  Here is, in my opinion, what should happen:
  1. This sales manager should have started by sorting by company name, and removed the obvious suppliers.  This will eliminate your competition right away so that they do not see what you are up to for post-show marketing!
  2. Next, I would have removed the companies who you are not sure whether they are suppliers or not.  Set them aside.  EVERYONE has a website these days, look them up.
  3. Take a look at what is left, and filter out some of the prospects even further.  If you are located in Ontario, and the prospect is a provincial association in BC, there is very little chance (at best) that they can bring a meeting to your property.  They don’t want your emails, unless they actually stopped by your booth and said they have potential for you.
  4. Every industry show I have attended, exhibitors collected business cards from booth visitors.  Take them out of the general email equation, and send them a personal message, thanking them for their time at the show, and following up on the conversation you had with them.  Provide them with the specific information they were looking for, and put them in your lead generation funnel.
  5. Yes, you can send a general email to everyone left on the list, but use some sort of personalization.  There are hundreds of variations of online software out there that can insert a first name into your email, so that at least it looks like you were thinking specifically of them.
I followed these steps myself; it took me about 30 minutes, not including the research that I need to do on those I am not sure about.  Sounds easy?  That’s because it is.  And you will not upset people who don’t need your information in the meantime.