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Shot Show Trade Show Marketing

Steal My SHOT Show Strategy

By Firearms and Hunting

 

SHOT Show 2019 is right around the corner. If you’ve done an adequate job of promoting your SHOT Show presence and built a booth that rivals the Taj Mahal (or not)—the next and sometimes most difficult step is how to organize all those booth visitors you are going to attract into qualified leads. After all, that’s why you’re at SHOT right?

Before you hand over that koozie, T-shirt or iPad—have you determined the right questions to ask that qualifies your booths’ visitors—with the goal of turning them into promoters, leads or customers?

Trade shows, for the most part, are huge lead generators. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), exhibitors identify lead generation at 80-85% as the reason that companies exhibit at trade shows. This is closely followed by branding and customer engagement.

If you’re a wholesaler, distributor or manufacturer in the hunting, outdoor or firearms industry, here are 6 points from my B2B strategy for SHOT Show that you can steal to make the most of your leads and build better relationships with buyers and dealers. 

 

1. Set Goals

It’s crazy how many companies go to SHOT without some sense of what they hope to accomplish. If it’s a certain number of handshakes, booth visits, clicks, leads, sales, contacts, P.O.s—whatever, set a goal and make a plan to achieve it. It will give you some sense of measurement of how successful your show was. 

Steal my strategy: Take your overall  SMART goals for the year and decide what a good show ROI looks like. Begin setting up meetings two-three weeks out via email and personal messaging via LinkedIn and then broadcast your attendance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure to use the shows hashtags: #shotshow or #shotshow2019 so your posts show up in the SHOT Show App.  Track engagement through a good analytics tool. 

 

2. Identify the difference between a prospect and a lead

With over 65,000 attendees and 1,600 exhibitors do you know what your ideal customer/buyer looks like? It’s amazing how many marketers and salespeople don’t understand what the difference is between a prospect and a lead—let alone how to qualify them. A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their sales funnel. (Source: MarketingSherpa)  When someone strolls up to your booth without an appointment, they most likely are in the awareness/information gathering stage. They found you online, heard about your product/service or saw what you offer as they were walking by. 

Make sure that you have a list of questions to initiate a conversation that helps you identify where they are in the buying process and how you can best help them. I want to emphasize the word HELP. How can you help their business? 70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems. 30% make decisions to gain something. (Source: Impact Communications) Focus on that aspect and not pitching your product/services first. In the back of your mind, you need to be always thinking about uncovering what their problem is and how your product or service helps. 

Here’re a few examples:

  1. What brings you to SHOT Show? (identifies their intent)
  2. How did you hear about us? (identifies understanding)
  3. What kind of business are you in? (identifies who the prospect is)
  4. What are you looking for in this type of_____?
    (identifies if they are serious or are just browsing)
  5. What are your goals/challenges for the show/or 2017?
  6. What are some things you’ve been working on lately?

For more questions, see this post: 16 Sales Qualification Questions to Identify Prospects Worth Pursuing

By taking the time to focus and talk about their business—not yours—you are saying “you are important to me” which builds trust with the prospect. This brings down the hard-sell barrier and allows for a more engaging conversation.

Steal my strategy: If you’ve been executing an inbound marketing strategy throughout the past year, meetings at SHOT Show may be just a formality at this point. The sales cycle is 95% complete, and a face-to-face meeting is just icing on the cake on what will be a long and successful business relationship. The meetings I have at SHOT, are with qualified leads I’ve nurtured over the past 5-6 months. 

 

trade-show-booth-strategy3. Take advantage of the “Lookie Lous”

While no definite industry statistics are available on this, likely only 10-20% of booth visitors are potentially qualified leads, if that many. So the question becomes how to sort out the best potential leads from the rest before initiating an expensive and time-consuming lead qualification process? (Source: Biznology)

If you’ve come to the realization that the person you’re talking to is not a qualified lead or what I like to call a “lookie lou,” (someone who is strictly there out of curiosity and who may just want to grab some schwag)—what can you do to make the most out of this touch point while not wasting valuable time? For example, you may pass him/her off to your booths’ official “lookie lou” ambassador. Someone who is solely responsible for handling unqualified leads that free up your front-line sales person. That person might ask them to tweet about your brand with your company’s #hashtag in exchange for a booth chachkie. Most people will be willing to do this in exchange for some schwag.

The more activity you can create over social media the better. You may want to add a label or sticker to your giveaways instructing them what to post. When you see the person’s post, thank them and follow them back to close the loop.

Steal my strategy: Don’t let any touch point go to waste. You never know who the person you are talking to may be; they may be an influencer with thousands of followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Gun District or Instagram. Make sure to gather their info and connect on social media and remain in contact with them to build your network.  

 

4. Enter leads into your CRM and follow-up fast!

Whether you’re scanning badges or entering leads into a CRM—send them a follow-up email within 24 hours or less. Thank them for stopping by and mention what you talked about to jog their memory. Depending on your conversation, make sure you find them and connect with them via LinkedIn if possible. Most prospects will be impressed on how fast you followed up. If you’re getting hundreds of leads per day—it will become difficult to follow up the night after the show because you’ll be exhausted. This is were using a CRM can come in handy.

Steal my strategy: Create your follow up email in advance with MailChimp, Constant Contact or your marketing automation tool and then import their names and email addresses, a note on the nature of the conversation and next steps. Send and track for engagement within 24 hours. Make sure to let them know that you will follow up by phone next week to discuss your sales conversation further or appointment details.

 

5. Qualify prospects through an automated workflow

Depending on how many contacts you gather over the week of SHOT Show, you may not have had time to qualify every single person you talked to. Or you may have experienced some push-back. Using your contact list, begin to nurture your leads through a series of emails based around a workflow that addresses the specific problems that your product or service solves. Link to your company’s blog and downloadable offers to educate your leads. Get your emails sent within 5 days. 

Steal my strategy: Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group) By educating your leads through automation, you speed up the sales process, save time, build trust, brand awareness and rapport. 

 

6. Standout through social media

Do you have a social media strategy? How are you going to use social media to draw and attract leads to your SHOT Show booth? A simple strategy starts first with automation. Using HubSpot’s social inbox, Hootsuite or Buffer, you can schedule all your promotional tweets and posts (Facebook and Instagram) in advance. Start with a schedule then create eye-catching graphics based on your promotions, product releases or giveaways. Make sure to include the hashtag #shotshow2107 and #shotshow along with your own specialty hashtag.  Then create a mobile-friendly designated landing page that specifically showcases your promotions and a meeting signup form. Make sure to use your hashtag in your printed materials like an ad or sponsorship. 

Steal my strategy: During SHOT Show 2016, I was amazed on how few brands utilized social media. This gives savvy companies an opportunity to stand out and attract leads. Schedule anywhere from 6-10 tweets, 3-5 Facebook and Instagram posts per day and perhaps one a day on LinkedIn (Personal and Company Page). 

So to sum up, identify the difference of what a prospect and lead look like, make the most of every touch point, follow up within 24 hours, utilize automated workflows to nurture leads along your sales funnel and get busy on social media. 

Have a great show! 

 

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inbound-marketing-hunting-outdoor-firearms-trade-show

Free Ebook: The Inbound Marketing Trade Show Planning Guide

In this planning guide, you will learn how to use inbound marketing to make your trade show more successful and profitable.

  • Picking the right tools
  • Defining clear, measurable goals
  • Tracking and measurement
  • What to do before, during and after the show
  • Tips and tricks to drive booth traffic
Download Now
[/columns]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

shot-show-2016-marketing

5 Key Marketing Takeaways From SHOT Show 2016

By Firearms and Hunting

By now your feet have hopefully gone back to their original shape, and your head has cleared from the craziness of what ended up being an epic SHOT Show 2016.

I logged over 20,000 steps and 11 miles on my Garmin between Thursday and Friday and thought I was able to get into every major exhibit on the main floor. I kept my schedule open on Thursday to catch up with friends, track down Willie, Jase, Goodwin and Martin for an autograph, take in Dana Loesch’s live radio broadcast and as luck would have it, run into Kyle Lamb and Jim Shockey.

Now that the show is over, and you begin to re-group and think about next year’s show (yes, it’s time to start getting ready). I wanted to share a few of my thoughts from a marketing perspective on the event and give you a few takeaways on how you can make next year’s SHOT Show even better.

1. Creative marketing concepts in exhibits
The exhibits I felt that had the most energy and excitement were the booths that incorporated an original concept that brought their brand story to life. They somehow tapped into my craw to create an extremely memorable experience. Not only did these concept exhibits pick up media attention—but they also seemed to be having the most fun. The three most interesting exhibits I experienced were: CAA/Kalashnikov USA, Battle Arms Development, and SilencerCo.

CAA/Kalashnikov’s exhibit was like stepping into an underground Slavic dance club. Hard white floors, high ceilings, AKs on the walls and the contrasting American/Russian imagery and other European-type aesthetics added to the experience. For a brief moment, I felt like I was somewhere else other than Las Vegas.

Battle Arms Development’s mad scientist theme featured employees wearing white lab coats under blue lighting which created a similar vibe to CAA—but more science-fiction-like. The added Star Wars and super-hero themed rifles made the exhibit absorbing and engaging.

SilencerCo’s booth had a covered walk-in that integrated seamlessly with their ‘Fight the Noise’ campaign along with their catalog, booth staff, past year’s advertising campaign and website. With a gray spray-painted outdoor scene and impressive imagery, the booth was also very experiential that brought the brand to life. Darren Jones, Media Relations and Sales with SilencerCo, said, “This show has been completely overwhelming—in a good way. We’ve had tremendous response to our newly launched products, and it will probably be one of our best years ever. We fully expect the ball to keep rolling.” (Source: NSSF)

silencerco booth

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

Takeaway: The highly saturated MSR segment and burgeoning suppressor segment will become increasingly harder for brands to stand out. Consider integrating a theme into next year’s booth that incorporates and aligns with your brand’s story to make it more attractive. Introduce your theme in your advertising and digital marketing over the next 11 months. Take your booth visitors out of SHOT Show and into your brand’s world. This would play exceptionally well down on the first level where the exhibits aren’t as exciting.

 

2. Sig Sauer goes big

shot-show-sig-sauer

Photo Credit: Fox News

This second point also ties into #1. The exhibit that stood out head and shoulders above all others on the main floor was Sig Sauer. If you saw it, you know what I’m talking about. It was unbelievable. Sig looks to be doubling down on their repositioning effort as a “total system provider.”

“Obviously, SHOT Show is important to us,” said Tom Taylor, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Sig Sauer. “We made a huge investment in the booth because we want our customers to know that we are a total system provider. And it was evident from the crowd in the booth that the effort wasn’t lost on anyone.” (Source: NSSF)

Takeaway: To make a lasting statement—go big! (if you got an extra few million dollars in your budget).

 

3. Busyness hindered social media
I frequently posted on Twitter and couldn’t help but notice that a lot of brands were not engaging with the network as much as I expected. There were two hashtags being used: #shotshow (23,699 tweets) and #shotshow2016 (14,345 tweets)—which fragmented the feed and caused some confusion on which one to follow. Some brands I noticed didn’t use the show’s hashtag at all. Instagram got 55,555 posts.—and noticed that #shotshow wasn’t even trending on Facebook. In comparison, events become trending topics on Twitter when they have over 50K followers. So the question I ask is ‘why wasn’t there more tweets/posts!?’

A few thoughts:

  1. It was a really busy show. A lot of my friends and client’s booths—where I got a chance to get behind the counter—were jammed packed. Buyers were lining up which barely gave us time to talk. Mike Schwiebert, Vice President of Marketing for Weatherby, put the show in context by saying, “In my 17 years of working SHOT Shows with Weatherby, this is perhaps the busiest show I’ve ever had.”
  2. Perhaps the industry still doesn’t understand the power and opportunity of these networks and how to use them effectively during trade shows—or they just don’t care.
  3. Businesses who cater to the military and law enforcement may be frowned upon. Most manufacturers who work with three letter agencies, choose not to engage with social media—for obvious reasons.
  4. It will be interesting to compare this year with next year’s event.

Takeaway: Using conference hashtags are important because it allows you to reach a larger audience. Even though the show was busy, there exists an opportunity to stand out by posting to social media more regularly throughout the week to drive traffic to your website and booth. Other exhibitors don’t seem to be taking advantage of this opportunity. Maybe you can?

 

4. Trending: lightweight and quiet
I noticed a lot of companies incorporating carbon fiber into their platforms like Christensen Arms’ CA-15 VTAC as well as suppression like the new Maxim 9 by SilcencerCo., and Daniel Defense’ 300 BLK integrally suppressed rifle—the DDM4 ISR300. Patrick Woods from Spring Guns & Ammo said, “One of the biggest innovations he saw was lighter-weight long guns. “There’s a lot of new rails out that are much, much lighter, that still provide the modularity that people are looking for in an AR-15, and are still incredibly durable and rigid.” 

Takeaway: How can you begin to integrate lightweight materials into your product offerings? Knife handles, tactical gear, holsters, cans, hand guards, stocks, barrels, mags, etc.? This may be worth taking a look at.

 

5. The industry is strong and “on alert.”
Paul Pluff, Director, Marketing Communications with Smith & Wesson, said, “This is the premier show for us, and once again this has been a very busy time. The response to our new products has been fantastic, and based on what we’re seeing; we’re very much looking forward to the year ahead.” (Source: NSSF)

With the ever-increasing attacks on our industry from the administration and the anti-gun/hunting groups—the industry remains extremely strong. I was surprised by some who suggested to “hold back” on spending for development and hiring until things pan out in Washington. I can see their point, and most likely many will heed the advice. However, rewards always favor the risk takers. We have to be “on alert” as NSSF President Sanetti suggests, but we must also continue to push and grow our businesses regardless of the political climate. I expect many forward-thinking manufacturers to continue with their plans irrespective of the industry warnings and threats we face this year.

Takeaway: We are always going to have opposition to our industry, lifestyle and heritage. But it shouldn’t stymie innovation and manufacturers’ plans to continue with their development plans. To do so would mean to admit defeat.

To wrap up, exhibits who integrated creative concepts had greater interest, use social media in future shows to help your brand gain greater awareness, lightweight, and quieter products are on the rise, and with a strong industry powered by some of the smartest and bravest people in the world who keep this country safe (collectively and individually) 2016 looks to be a great year.

What were some of your takeaways? Please comment below.

 

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inbound-marketing-hunting-outdoor-firearms-trade-show

Free Ebook: The Inbound Marketing Trade Show Planning Guide

In this planning guide, you will learn how to use inbound marketing to make your trade show more successful and profitable.

  • Picking the right tools
  • Defining clear, measurable goals
  • Tracking and measurement
  • What to do before, during and after the show
  • Tips and tricks to drive booth traffic
Download Now
[/columns]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

How-To-Plan-and-Build-an-Automated-Lead-Nurturing-Workflow

How To Plan and Build an Automated Lead Nurturing Workflow

By Inbound Marketing

 

Your campaign doesn’t end when leads convert on your landing page. Understanding your buyer’s journey from Awareness to Consideration to Decision is critically important in setting up lead nurturing workflows.

marketing-lifecycle-buyers-journey

What is a workflow?
Workflows give you the ability to automate your marketing to actual people, not just clicks and opens. A workflow tool is included in most marketing automation platforms like HubSpot.

What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is a workflow of engaging contacts via automated touches (email) to build a relationship; with the end goal of closing a more educated and qualified customer. When engaging in lead nurturing, you need to be aware of three principles that will make them effective.

Each workflow should address the following:

Grow and nurture relationships – Ask yourself, is this adding value to the contact or is it self-serving?

Educational content – Does this content help or educate your contact?

Hyper-personalization – Try to personalize your workflows as much as possible. This is also called segmentation. As an example, don’t send emails meant for C-Suite executives to mid-level managers. Create and tailor content based on your buyer persona.

Lead nurturing is especially effective for businesses that offer complex products and services. Lead nurturing helps educate your prospect by spoon feeding them information in a way that educates them slowly that doesn’t overwhelm them; with the end goal of moving them from awareness to decision.

Here are some facts as to why lead nurturing is important:

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster Research)
  • Research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. (Source: InsideSales.com)
  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: The Annuitas Group)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Today, customers manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human. (Source: Gartner Research)

In this post, I give you 5 best practices for automating your lead nurturing workflows.

1. Identify the goal of the workflow
The most popular goal of any workflow is based around the marketing lifecycle. Your focus will be on moving your contact to the next stage of the lifecycle.

So for example, a workflow goal would look something like this:

  • Goal = Download Whitepaper
  • Goal = Contact attends webinar
  • Goal= Visits x number pages on your website
  • Goal= Contact request demo
  • Goal= Contact signs contract

Workflow Sales FunnelTo the right is a sample workflow that overlays the sales funnel and buyers lifecycle with the inbound marketing methodology. We will discuss the types of email to send once the contact opts in to the sales funnel shortly. The goal of this workflow is to move them through your workflow in an effort to build trust—so that they achieve your end goal. In this example the end-goal is: request a demo.

2. Identify contacts that should be enrolled in your workflow
When designing your workflows, make sure to enroll the correct personas. This can be done through your landing page forms by requiring your visitor to self-identify. See Landing Page Best Practices.

3. Select the appropriate number and type of emails to send
To identify the appropriate number of emails you should send, breakdown the types of email into 4 classes:

1. Email 1: Goal = Build trust/condition
The purpose of this type of email is to build trust and relevancy. Make sure whatever you send, it’s something your contact will find useful. The email should also reference why you’re reaching out to them and provide some useful blog links (this is a great way to drive additional traffic to your website). When executed correctly, you’ll begin to build trust that will help condition them to open future emails. Keep your emails short and simple, make sure the subject line is relevant to the action the contact took, always include a link back to the page they signed up on and personalize it. Delay 4 days from first touch.


2. Email 2: Goal = Additional downloads
Once you’ve establish some level of trust, you want to begin to draw a connection between the topic of your workflow and your solution. This could be in the form of whitepapers, ebooks, webinars or case studies. You allow them to consume your resources to further understand your organizations value. At this stage you are not yet selling them. You are still building trust. Delay 4 days from second touch.


3. Email 3 & 4: Goal = Soft/Hard Goal
By now, your contacts that are engaged will trust you and are beginning to understand the value of your organization and how you will solve their problem. You’ve probably seen them on your website a few more times—these are signals of a qualified lead. Now is the time to position your goal of the workflow (request a demo) as the next logical step for the contact to take. Position this step as part of the discovery process by focusing on delivering more detail on how you can specifically help them. At this point, they should be interested in talking to you and signing up for a demo. Delay 3 days from third touch.

4. Email 5: Goal = Breakup/Goal Action
The break-up email is designed to make it clear that this is the last email they will be receiving in conjunction with the type of emails they’ve been getting. Our goal with this email is to make one last-ditch effort to complete your goal (request a demo). Let them know this is the last email, and ask them to subscribe to your blog. Believe it or not, a P.S. works well here. Delay 3 days from fourth touch.


4. A word on timing
Timing is always important when nurturing your leads. You can easily upset people by emailing them too much or too little. There is a delicate balance when playing with the timing of your emails. Experiment with what times work best. Do not email your contact every day otherwise you’ll get flagged for spam. A safe place to start is one email every week for 4 weeks.

5. Identify contacts to suppress from your workflow
When setting up your lead nurturing workflows make sure to exclude any current customers, opportunities, competitors or contacts were a specific product or service is not relevant.

What if a contact just bypasses the whole workflow and calls me? Sometimes, a contact will just call you after spending some time on your website and bypass the entire workflow. Continue to follow the workflow and be prepared to tweak it slightly. The goal is still to educate them and distinguish your services from potential competitors they may be evaluating.

In conclusion, the lead nurturing process always starts with a desired end goal. Each email should be educational, simple and short, personalized and timed correctly. Each stage of the buyer’s lifecycle should be kept in mind as you move your contact to the next stage. By conducting lead nurturing you can expect to send your sales team more “sales-qualified” leads and close more business. 

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