As software marketers, inbound marketing probably comes somewhat easier to you than it does to person-to-person oriented businesses. Digital technology, the online revolution, computers and gadgets - they are your preferred medium after all. Many of your customers, however, have the opposite experience.
While people love technology, the internet and its collection of online paths for marketing aren't the complete solution. It speeds the sales process considerably when prospects have a face to look at, eyes to connect with and a hand to shake. Once a degree of familiarity and trust is established, more personal interaction will catalyze the results. Your objective is to leverage online content to get the prospect thinking, "this information is great, but I sure wish I could just talk to a real person about it..."
While savvy software marketing strategies draw them in - including traditional avenues of personal contact makes all the difference. To this end, we recommend taking your SaaS software marketing show on the road!
Leverage Online Content at Offline Trade Shows & Exhibitions
At trade shows and other exhibitory events, you finally have a chance to meet those long-dreamed about buyer personas. It's a rewarding reminder to see the real, live people your products/services were designed to help in the first place. The personal connections you forge at carefully selected events can become qualified leads in record time.
This is especially true in situations where online competition is high or your solution is so innovative or unique that nobody is using search engines to find it. In-person networking is your chance to helpfully guide an audience to the online content you created just for them instead of solely relying on the Internet.
Here are tips for getting the most out of your presence at various shows and exhibitions.
Choose the event and/or venue wisely
Sure, you can go online and search for the five top trade shows for your industry - and you might fare well at any one of them. If you aren't a trade show pro, however, you will still be a very small fish in a large, established pond. Instead, seriously examine your goal for each event.
Is it to refresh your qualified lead lists? Do you want to expand professional networks to glean word-of-mouth referrals from other industry leaders? Would you like to increase up-sells to existing customers? Once you've identified your big picture goal(s), you'll be able to carefully sift out the right events for you to attend to maximize ROI.
Grow your lead lists with panache
Too many business owners see their website and online software marketing as separate from more personal networking events. Don't make this mistake. Instead, treat sales calls, networking events and trade shows as part of a more integrated whole. Your website, blogs and social media engagements will help to promote your presence at various events, and your presence at the event should re-direct visitors and prospects right back to existing and fresh online content where they can continue their journey through the sales funnel.
One tip for populating contact lists with more qualified leads: ditch the business card bowls. Your business card or placard is just one more thing a booth visitor accumulates among hundreds of other things at trade shows and networking events. Instead, design an irresistible booth display, interactive opportunities for visitor engagement and forge personal connections that compel prospects to give you their information so they can learn more. Now you have organically derived contacts to grow your email lists and other lead nurturing enterprises.
Prioritize action over words
Your inbound marketing content is loaded with words, words and more words. Trade shows are special because they don't require many words - they give you an opportunity for real engagement. Work and re-work your 30-second spiel so it is just enough - but not too much - and then let visitors play, engage, act, and ask questions. Make your booth the place where prospects can participate in the nitty-gritty, hands-on kind of engagement that isn't possible during a website visit.
Put exhibit visitors to work interacting with your product via in-person tutorials, set up touch-screens that guide visitors through a choose-your-own-adventure version of how your products/services work, have them play games for clever prizes - testing what they've learned from your demos. Continue the conversation via social media when visitors have left your booth, and make sure they have opportunities to share your products, services and content with others.
Keep it simple, straightforward and pared down
Think about your trade show display the same way you think about your website or software marketing in general. It should be simple and devoid of excessive glitz and distraction. Trade shows can be overwhelming, so make your booth a respite from the madness. If your intuition allows you to create a calm, focused and targeted island amongst the trade show chaos, you're already a problem solver in your prospect's eyes.
Your demonstrations and interactive displays will take that one step further, showing them how your company's products and services will continue to solve their problems well after the show is over.
Make it social & personal
Once you've committed to a particular event, get out those contact lists and start sending personalized and targeted invites to area-based prospects, leads and customers as well as other relevant contacts. Host a VIP party or segmented Q&A sessions. And, of course, don't forget to use social media to publicize and promote the event before, during and afterwards.
Taking your SaaS show on the road is a smart way to foster in-person engagement and word-of-mouth referrals - two critical components of software marketing success. Plus, at each point along the way, you have opportunities to capitalize on existing website and online content by directing new prospects to relevant content that will continue to nurture them where they're at.