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Following up: How to nurture new customer relationships from trade shows

January 25, 2023 | Published by Faire

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A laptop sits next to a notepad of written contacts and a smartphone

Trade shows and other industry events now happen year-round, and virtual trade shows such as Faire Markets make it easy to participate without having to travel. More shows mean more opportunities to reach new buyers, so how can you manage all the new connections you’re making at all these events? Keep these six tips top of mind as you form new customer relationships during virtual and in-person trade shows.

1. Have your outreach plan ready 

Writing out the basic content of emails ahead of the event will make things a lot easier afterward. First, consider prospects’ points of view and identify questions that potential customers might have so you’ll be ready to answer them before getting into any sort of sales push. Some potential questions include: 

  • How will this benefit my company?
  • Is it worth it?
  • Will it work for me and my customers?
  • Is there another company doing it better?
  • Is your company reputable?
  • Can we afford it?

Schedule these follow-up emails to be sent on specific dates, such as one to two days after the event and then again four days after, one week after, 10 days after, and two weeks after. 

It’s important to consider what your brand is trying to achieve at different stages of email communication. For example, do you want to continue an initial conversation, clarify information, schedule a meeting or call, thank them for their interest, or provide social proof of what others are saying about your brand? 

Make sure you always have an eye-catching (and brief) subject line, state your purpose right away, and include a clear CTA near the end of each email. That might be, “Let me know if you have any questions” or “Is 10 AM tomorrow a good time for us to schedule a call?” 

2. Welcome leads to your email list

Once a trade show is over, it’s time to welcome new leads to your email list with a strong opener that provides context of where and when you met. Consider sending an open-ended email that asks a question or includes a survey. This allows you and your sales team to learn about leads and customize your approach. 

Make sure to promptly answer any questions from new prospects before sending them on to your sales team. This is also a good time to tell leads that you enjoyed the trade show and hope they did too, bring up something memorable from the event, reiterate your brand’s mission and core values, and show what you have in common. Any customized follow-up emails should be relevant to the event you both attended, such as a recap email that includes details or offers attendees might have missed. 

3. Double down on the personal touch

After establishing personal connections during an event, focus on keeping that feeling going through written communications with a friendly, welcoming, and conversational tone. Also consider writing different emails for different customer segments rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. This doesn’t mean writing a completely different email from scratch for each lead, but customizing some of the language for different types of leads to ensure more recipients will read and relate to your message.

If any of your sales professionals spoke with leads during in-person trade shows, they should be the one to individually follow up with that lead. That could be through an email, phone call, or message via social media platforms such as LinkedIn. 

4. Lean on automation where you can

Handwritten thank-you notes for new customers or phone calls to nurture leads benefit from a personal touch, but don’t overlook the help automation can provide in your customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. For example, tracking leads with pen and paper leaves too much room for error, so use a lead-capture form on a tablet, smartphone, or laptop at in-person events. And while you might have access to badge information for attendees from the organizer of an in-person trade show, it’s better to focus on leads that interacted with your team during the event. 

Also include an automated email sequence in your outreach plan using Faire’s email marketing tools, use CRM software tools to track leads, and make sure all new leads are entered into your CRM database immediately. To help you prioritize, try categorizing leads as hot, warm, or cold. And remember to add notes to your CRM so you remember where you met leads and so you can request a commission refund for any new customers who forget to use your Faire Direct QR code to place an order. 

5. Creating content? Now’s the time to distribute it.

If you have a dedicated section of your website for blogs and articles, now is the time to use it. If not, now might be the time to create one so you can share content with leads over email as well as all your contacts across social media platforms. If you aren’t adept at writing for an online audience, it could be worthwhile to outsource this task. 

Consider interviewing industry experts to position your brand as a thought leader, bringing along a reporter to cover your presence at a larger in-person trade show, or simply having someone from your team take notes throughout the event. You can show how valuable your brand is by offering a unique perspective and information on the event that they might not be able to find elsewhere. Some questions you might ask yourself for inspiration include: 

  • What’s the story behind my latest products? 
  • Are there any deals or promotions I’m offering? 
  • What about a recent or upcoming event has my team most excited, and why? 
  • What complementary brands do I admire, and why?
  • Are there trends in my industry that have caught my attention?

If you’re publishing this kind of material on an ongoing basis, it can help support—or even take the form of—an email newsletter for leads and/or customers (more on that below).

6. Keep new contacts engaged

It’s important to keep new leads engaged even if they’re unlikely to become a customer right away. Things could always change in the future or they might know someone else who is interested in your products. It’s good to play the long game. However, it’s also wise to know when to stop putting certain efforts into cold leads. If there’s been no response after a few months, it’s no longer a good use of time to create personalized emails or personally reach out to those leads. You can still keep them in the loop, though. Just move them over to that cold-lead category in your database and continue sending emails that are designed for both hot and cold leads. 

You might consider sending out semi-regular newsletters about what’s new at your brand and in your industry that are engaging for customers and non-customers alike. You can also continue engaging with new contacts on social media by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts. It’s all about making that personal connection last long after trade shows are done. 

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