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Attention Tradeshow Exhibitors: I Am NOT Your Target Market!

The 2014 Meetings Industry tradeshow season has begun.  Before I get into this post, yes, our company will be attending and exhibiting at numerous conferences this year. 

As a business members of several organizations, Greenfield Services' sales team (Meagan Rockett and Doreen Ashton Wagner) works hard to attend as meetings industry events, thus we end up on the delegate list, as well as the exhibitor list.

The problem is that there are still companies out there who are sending us offers, including free trips, to stop by their booth at a tradeshow.  It happened again in the days leading up to the CSAE Tete-a-Tete Show.  We were invited to "explore how our association can benefit from XYZ..."  BUT WE ARE NOT AN ASSOCIATION….

We have talked about this issue in the past, focusing specifically on how exhibitors should not waste their time, why member profiles are important and how to ask the right questions to get the segmentation you need, and how lazy sales reps bank on emails making their brand a success.

Thankfully, in a few months, with the application of Canada's new Anti-Spam Law, we'll be able to tell these people, "stop it, you're breaking the law!" 

We are not even sure how we got on the distribution list for the two most recent emails we received.  The delegate registration list for this year has not been provided.  Where did you get our name from?  Must be from last year’s list….

At least the first email received did not assume that we would be in attendance.  It clearly stated that “IF you plan on attending, come see us…”, BUT their message was drafted and sent with association executives in mind.  Nothing to do with us.

The second email did not even go that far – it was a “Win a Trip/Looking forward to seeing you” email, as if they received the list pre-show.

Why annoy the industry with these messages in their inbox?  Instead:
  •  Move this type of messaging to Twitter, using the event hashtag.  Stop by our booth, or Win a Trip types of messages can reach a wider audience there.  AND, you can do the event organizer a favour and include the links to register and get more info
  • (PLEASE) Segment the List:  IF you were lucky enough to receive the delegate list pre-conference, or pre-tradeshow, REVIEW it.  Half of the list may not be your target market, so remove them.  Why decrease your brand reputation?
  • If you MUST send email, give value.  You may think a free trip is valuable, but you will likely get a lot of traffic with no potential for you, and are just having a meet & greet that will enter them in the draw.  These shrimp eaters as we lovingly call them likely will not do business with you in the future.  Instead, offer tips, best practices, demonstrations, bring a planner or client who can offer testimonials on the client experience, etc.  Shake it up a bit!
We encourage ALL companies attending meetings industry conferences and tradeshows this year to elevate the conversation, instead of, or in conjunction with, a flashy offer.  What will YOU do differently this year?