The next MT Series event is right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, there’s still plenty to do. There’s shipping to finalize, orders to place, reservations to make – the list goes on. But amid all that anxiety and not-so-organized chaos, there’s one really important item you need to underline on your to-do list: Generate enthusiasm!
That shouldn’t be too hard. After all, the MT Series events are among the most important industry events in U.S. manufacturing technology. Held throughout 2023, HOUSTEX (Feb. 21-23), EASTEC (May 16-18), SOUTHTEC (Oct. 24-26), and WESTEC/AeroDef (Nov. 7-9) connect decision-makers, major machine and tooling technology suppliers, thought leaders, and advanced manufacturers from across the broad spectrum of manufacturing disciplines. Each event in the series is exciting. It’s grand. Attendees can’t wait to get there. And while this energy and enthusiasm gives your brand a leg up on companies who aren’t exhibiting, capitalizing on this potential requires a purposeful, intentional marketing strategy.
Here are some tips (and a vital tool!) to help.
Visitors Are Planning Now
This is where the importance of pre-show marketing shines. Exhibitors aren’t the only people preoccupied with planning for the next MT Series event; and while these events target regional visitors, a lot of folks still attend from out of town and are busy planning their visit. They might set aside a whole day with a specific agenda in mind to walk the floor – an agenda that you want to be sure your company is 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 announcement happening at the show? A new technology or product being unveiled? You want to make sure attendees (i.e., your prospective customers) are aware of what’s happening and when. Have a salesperson reach out to your current customers too. Maybe send them a special VIP invite, something to generate enthusiasm and make them feel special.
A visitor to the show likely won’t be there the entire time, so 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. Make your booth a highlight of their trip with an alluring message, and they’ll plan their trip around it.
Boost Your Brand Recognition
Make no mistake: the MT Series events are big and full of jaw-dropping sights and sounds vying for each visitor’s attention. Talking with attendees in the weeks leading up to the show helps your company stand out from the crowd at the event. So even if you aren’t on their agenda, they may still stop by your booth because of brand recognition. 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, it also benefits your company beyond the show. Showcasing your brand at an MT Series event 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 technologies on display, your presence 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.
Start Your Sales Funnel
Lastly, one of the most important reasons to start a conversation with event 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 the event comes around, your salespeople will know whom to focus on at the show.
How To Begin the Conversation
So, how do you start a conversation with an MT Series event visitor whom you have yet to meet? You need to have a comprehensive marketing strategy involving multiple channels to reach your prospect where they are. We built the Exhibitor Passport tool to help you do just that.
Passport allows you to connect with visitors of HOUSTEX, EASTEC, SOUTHTEC and WESTEC that are specifically interested in your product and features filters designed to segment and target the perfect audience for your message. It offers capabilities to assist with email, phone, and direct mail campaigns – some of the important channels to reach 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 where 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 marketing investment. If you’d like to learn more about Exhibitor Passport or see a demo, you can visit exhibitorpassport.org. Or you can send any questions about the tool to PassportNotify@AMTonline.org.
While there’s still a lot to do before the next MT Series event, now is not the time to stick your head in the sand. This is the time to double down and start a conversation with current and potential customers about the value your company offers and why it is important for them to stop by your booth. And even if they don’t visit you, the results will pay off down the line, as the conversation is just the beginning of your relationship with them.