I do a lot of work with start-ups and so I run into this issue frequently. They either have a limited amount of time, money, or both, but suddenly have a trade show coming up and they need something to give to prospects. Or they simply need to start creating marketing materials, and don’t know where to begin.
The following are “must-have” pieces of marketing collateral:
1. Website: It seems almost too obvious to mention, but the website is the place to start. If you already have a website, you need to look at it critically. Is it customer focused, professionally designed, and easy to navigate – or was it hastily thrown together just to “get something out there?” I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have an inviting and informative website. After all – you are hoping all those trade show attendees will eagerly check you out after the show – don’t turn them off before they get started.
2. Company and product /service literature: For those on a very tight budget, a two-sided sales slick with an overview of company offerings and a boilerplate about the company can be a suitable amount of information to hand out to overwhelmed trade show attendees. For those with complex offerings and a larger budget, a series of two-sided solution/product briefs tucked into a well-designed folder along with a one page company overview and a business card will do the trick nicely.
3. In-depth research and information: If there’s still time (and budget), the next step on the collateral ladder is creating information-rich documents that take the prospect further down the sales cycle. These include white papers, case studies, and relevant third-party research. Case studies are particularly helpful when prospects might have a hard time envisioning how a solution will be implemented and what they can expect from it. White papers are great tools for establishing thought leadership and providing in-depth information on the benefits of your solution.
Don’t forget your hook
Collateral alone is not enough to make sales. You need to have a strategy for how to use it. What can you offer the prospect that they would deem valuable enough to give you a chance to win their business? What you come up with will depend on your product, your market, and your prospects.
If you have developed white papers and case studies, don’t just freely hand them out – offer to send them via email to prospects who request it. When you don’t have a white paper to offer, you can get a little more creative. As an example, a client of mine (who didn’t have time to revamp any collateral before the trade show) recently offered green energy show attendees a free initial assessment of whether their property was an appropriate candidate for solar or wind energy. Because they were offering something of real value to the prospect, they had a very high sign-up rate.
What are your must-haves for the trade show? Do you have a no-fail hook you’d like to share?