Pre-show Marketing – What Not To Do With The Show Registration List

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Using generic email blasts to untargeted registration lists is a waste of time. Here’s how to get those coveted new leads.

One thing that almost all trade show attendees agree on is that the flurry of pre-show emails they receive from show exhibitors are at best, annoying. These emails frequently use phrases such as “can’t wait to see you” (from someone you have never heard of), “visit us at booth #12345” (from someone who did not provide a reason why you should do that) or “see us at booth #12345 and win an iPad” (executives and decision makers rarely enter contests to win stuff they already have). Attendee surveys indicate that pre-show mailings are mostly ignored and may actually turn off the attendees you want to meet the most.

Trade show attendees plan their time in advance. Their schedules are filled with people to meet, sessions to attend and booths to visit. If you are not on someone’s schedule, the chance that they will stop by your booth is almost zero.

In an earlier post, several ideas were presented on how to get on the schedule of key stakeholder groups – your customers, prospects, social media followers, journalists, industry analysts and partners. The key to having a successful outreach to these audiences is providing a reason for them to schedule time to meet with you. But what about the attendee that is not known to you? The same concept applies, you must provide a reason why they should carve out a piece of the limited time at the show to meet with you.

As we all know, show managers make the pre-show registration list available to exhibitors (for a price) or they will do a mailing for you to the registration list (for a price.) This is where most of the annoying emails come from. Exhibitors send a “one-size-fits-all” email to the entire registration list with generic content. While this approach doesn’t cost much (and doesn’t take much time), it also doesn’t yield very much because it is rarely targeted to the various audiences that make up the attendee list. Your competitors get the same email as your target audiences along with everyone else.

As a side note, the registration list offered by show management is usually not consider an opt-in list. Unless there is a specific checkbox on the show registration form indicating that the person is willing to accept pre-show information, registering does not imply an agreement to receive emails. Another way to say this, mass mailers such as MailChimp will not accept show registration (and post-show attendee) lists as opt-in unless you can confirm that people have checked an opt-in box. The attendee must take a positive action (like checking a box) to be considered to have opted-in. Nothing can be implied or inferred.

So, if sending a generic email to an untargeted list is what not to do with a registration list, what do you do? Standard email targeting techniques are the key. Here are some tips:

  • Create targeted sub-lists from the big list. Email campaigns work best they are targeted as narrowly as possible. With focused targeting, you can create the exactly right invitation message to encourage a meeting. Obvious targeting criterion can be company name and job title. Granted, with large lists this can be a daunting task, but it works. I know one company that does a large number of emails with messages targeted at individual companies.
  • Eliminate those names that you have already handled or do not want to target. For example, cross-check registrant names with your customer list and move your customers to that mailing. Delete your competitor’s names and other companies that do not fit into your target market profile.
  • Select only those companies that fit your target company profile. The best selections would be attendees from the list of companies targeted by your sales teams. If you don’t have a list of sales targets (why not?) to use for the selection process, don’t waste your time with a generic mailing to everyone left on the list. Work with the sales teams to hand select companies to target and go with those.
  • The most successful mailings actually come from a personal email and look like an invitation from an individual, not from “the company.” For example, for technical job titles, the invitation should appear to come from someone in product marketing or development. For senior management titles, the invitation can come from an executive. Again, one size does not fit all.
  • The email campaign should be supported by a landing page and/or social media that reinforces the “reason to meet with us” and aids the respondent in scheduling a meeting time. You can also offer additional information (such as whitepapers) that may be of interest to your target audience.
  • Finally, one email is good, 2 or 3 is better. Vary the emails a bit as you get closer to the show. You can start with “have you started thinking about who to visit at the XYZ show?” and end with “any time left on you XYZ show schedule?”

Using the show registration list as part of your pre-show promotional program can not only boost your results, but help with that most precious of show contacts – the new prospect. Don’t waste your (and the attendees) time by mailing generic, untargeted blasts. Target. Target. Target. And get some great new leads.

Rick Gimbel
VP of Marketing | TechMarketeers

Well, after a B.S. in mathematics I went on to gain my M.S. in Computer Science from Purdue and began my 30-year career as a software engineer. I transitioned into marketing fairly early in my career and have held numerous VP of Marketing positions. Along the way I have worked in hardware, software and even supercomputing organizations (Adtron, JD Edwards, Sequent), from startups (Flashline & Apollo) to Fortune 500 companies such as Motorola, Digital Equipment, and Control Data.

I have also spent time with other specialist marketing firms such as Neodata, a database marketing and fulfillment company where I fine-tuned my understanding in 1-1 marketing and the use of analytics in all campaigns.

I currently serve as the VP of Marketing for TechMarketeers, specialists in hi-tech marketing.

Rick Gimbel

About Rick Gimbel

VP of Marketing | TechMarketeers Well, after a B.S. in mathematics I went on to gain my M.S. in Computer Science from Purdue and began my 30-year career as a software engineer. I transitioned into marketing fairly early in my career and have held numerous VP of Marketing positions. Along the way I have worked in hardware, software and even supercomputing organizations (Adtron, JD Edwards, Sequent), from startups (Flashline & Apollo) to Fortune 500 companies such as Motorola, Digital Equipment, and Control Data. I have also spent time with other specialist marketing firms such as Neodata, a database marketing and fulfillment company where I fine-tuned my understanding in 1-1 marketing and the use of analytics in all campaigns. I currently serve as the VP of Marketing for TechMarketeers, specialists in hi-tech marketing.

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