IMTS is right around the corner – less than 80 days(!) away as I was recently informed. That’s much too near for all the things I still have left to do to prepare for the show, and I imagine you’re feeling the same way. There is shipping to finalize, orders to place, reservations to make … the list goes on and on. But amid all that anxiety, allow me to add one more thing to your list: generate enthusiasm!
Those six days in September represent the biggest event in America’s manufacturing technology industry and is something we all look forward to every show year. It’s exciting! It’s grand! There’s a pulse around McCormick Place. It is an EVENT! While there is a lot to still get done, it’s an exciting time, and I never meet a person who isn’t thrilled to be going to IMTS. That’s an enthusiasm we work hard to build, and it’s important that it comes through in your marketing too.
Visitors Are Planning Now
This is where the importance of pre-show marketing shines. Exhibitors aren’t the only people preoccupied planning for IMTS; a lot of visitors attend from out of town (the “I” stands for international, remember?) and are busy planning their visit to Chicago and the show. They have to book their own travel and make their own plans – plans that you want to be sure your company is a part of. According to research, approximately 76% of trade show attendees plan their visits before the trade show kicks off.
Do you have a special occasion happening at the show? A new technology being unveiled? You want to make sure attendees (i.e., your prospective customers) are well aware of when those events are happening. Have a salesperson reach out to your current customers too. Send them a special VIP invite, something to make them feel special and generate the enthusiasm that comes with one of the largest manufacturing trade shows in the Western Hemisphere.
A visitor to the show likely won’t be there all six days, so you need to let them know what days are important for them to be at your booth. You can take it one step further too. Don’t just inform them about what is happening at your booth – set up meetings with them or encourage them to add your company to their show planner tool. Make your booth a highlight of their trip with an alluring message, and they will plan their trip around it.
Boost Your Brand Recognition
Make no mistake: IMTS is a huge show, and 2022 won’t be any different. Well over a million square feet of booth space has already assigned to thousands of exhibitors. Talking with visitors now helps your company stand out from the crowd at the show. If you aren’t on their agenda, they may still stop at your booth if they recognize your brand. Booth traffic increases by about 30% because of pre-show promotions. Being able to catch their eye on a crowded floor is an important part of driving traffic into your booth and capturing leads.
And while brand recognition is important for driving traffic to your booth on the show floor, it also benefits your company beyond just the one week in September when the show takes place. Connecting your brand to IMTS positions your company as a leader in the manufacturing technology industry. Whether your company produces milling machines, lathes, tooling, automation solutions, robots, additive equipment, or any of the myriad of technologies on display, your presence at the show is an indication to visitors that your company can be trusted to deliver results. So be sure to let them know that in your marketing. We love to see people using IMTS branding and cross-promoting.
Start Your Sales Funnel
Lastly, one of the most important reasons to start a conversation with IMTS visitors this early is to start building your sales funnel. Boosting your brand recognition and using email marketing tools and other promotional channels (like social media) can help turn prospects into customers.
You can push prospective customers to your website where they may read your content and sign up for a newsletter, allowing you to add them to your CRM. From there, you can begin adding in other demographic or behavioral information that you can use to better sort and target them as prospects. Eventually, that information will be enough to turn a prospect into a qualified lead, and by the time IMTS comes around, your salespeople will know who the right people are to spend time with at the show.
How To Begin the Conversation
So how do you start a conversation with an IMTS visitor whom you have not yet met? You need to have a comprehensive marketing strategy involving multiple channels to reach your prospect where they are. We built the IMTS Exhibitor Passport tool to help you do just that.
Passport allows you to connect with visitors that are specifically interested in your product, with filtering tools designed to help you segment and target the right audience for your message. It offers capabilities to assist with email, phone, and direct mail campaigns – some of the different channels that are important when talking to a machine tool buyer. A lot of our users see a spike in web traffic after sending out an email, and direct mail campaigns are making a comeback with our audience (research shows direct mail recipients tend to buy more products and spend more money than those who don’t get a piece of mail).
And don’t forget other important aspects of your marketing strategy like social media or investing in your website. Social media is one of the few mediums where the communication works two ways, and you can truly engage with your audience. Likewise, your website is the face of your brand in today’s digital age. Make sure your prospect has a great first impression of your company when they look for you.
As always, we are here to help exhibitors get the most out of their IMTS investment. If you’d like to learn more about Passport or see a demo, you can visit exhibitorpassport.org. Or you can send any questions about the tool to PassportNotify@AMTonline.org.
It will certainly be a busy summer leading up to IMTS in September, but now is not the time to stick your head in the sand. It’s time to double down and start a conversation with current and potential customers about the value your company brings them and why it is important for them to stop by your booth. And even if they don’t visit you at IMTS, the results will pay off down the line, as the conversation is just the beginning of your relationship with them.
This is the fourth article in our series on exhibitor marketing for IMTS 2022. Be sure to check out the other articles here: