post-show exhibitor emails

Yesterday, one of my friends started a conversation on Facebook about all the post-show emails sent by ASAE Annual exhibitors. We’re not receiving nearly the deluge of emails that go out before the show, but, once again, many of these emails are missing the mark.

Segment your list.

You scanned badges. You know the names of the attendees who visited your booth during the show. Right? So why are you telling someone who didn’t come to your booth:

“Thanks so much for stopping by our booth at ASAE in Detroit. We enjoyed visiting with you.”

How do you think an email like that goes over with an association exec who didn’t visit your booth? I’ll tell you: not well. It’s a sloppy and lazy example of the “spray and pray” tactic.

Next time, segment your list. Send a “thank you” email to the attendees who really did stop by your booth and send a “sorry we didn’t get to meet” email to those who didn’t.

Offer value, not another sales pitch.

Only two post-show exhibitor emails offered anything of value.

  • One was titled, “How Associations Can Grow Membership and Generate More Revenue,” and linked to a blog post about one of their key take-aways from the conference.
  • The other was titled, “Association Challenges Uncovered at ASAE,” and linked to three posts about those challenges.

As I wrote in my post about pre-show exhibitor emails, you have been given access to an association exec’s inbox—don’t blow it. Use this opportunity to be a resource. Don’t take advantage of that privilege by using it only as one more chance to sell.

Stop relying on drawings.

I understand you want to attract people to your booth, but how qualified are those leads who only visited because they want to win an Apple watch? And you’re still pushing that damn watch!

I really wonder how many association execs with decision-making authority notice who’s giving away prizes. They’re not going to the expo floor to enter drawings. They’re going to the expo floor to learn about the latest in online learning technology or mobile apps.

Become an ally.

The association executive crowd can sometimes be prickly about vendor outreach—if you’ve seen some of the discussions in ASAE’s Collaborate community, then you know what I mean. I wrote a post about a phrase that might sound familiar to Collaborate regulars: “No Vendors, Please.”

Why do so many association execs have this attitude? Because too many vendors don’t understand how to develop relationships with association execs. And, relationships are the foundation for sales.

Lead with value. Take a consultative approach. Be a source of information and education. Get to know your prospects—their challenges, problems, frustrations, and aspirations. Help them solve problems. Be a positive, valuable member of the association community.

If you’re going to send out blast emails, do it wisely. Sad to say, you will stand out if your emails deliver value to association executives because so few take that approach.

I hope any vendors out there take my suggestions in good spirit because I share them in goodwill. I’m on your side.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Bark)

association execs don't want promotional emails from exhibitors

Every year, when I register for the ASAE Annual Meeting, I check the box to receive emails from exhibitors. As a writer and content marketer, I like seeing how vendors in my community use email marketing. Some of them do it well, but some, oh boy, they really blow it.

The list ASAE provides to exhibitors includes association execs and staff as well as consultant members like myself. Ideally, an exhibitor would scrub and segment this list because it includes people with a range of positions and needs. For example, a company selling learning management systems shouldn’t waste their time sending emails to a government affairs professional.

The association execs on this list represent a wide spectrum of associations with different membership models, programs, financial resources and history with the exhibitor. Someone who works for a home builders association has no interest in an abstract collection tool. A person who just saw a demo of your system shouldn’t receive a generic email explaining what you do.

Deliver value in return for your inbox privilege.

These attendees have given exhibitors permission to enter their inbox—quite a privilege. Next time you talk to an association exec, ask her how many emails she gets a day. What percentage does she leave unread or delete?

You have a terrific opportunity to be of service and stand out from the pack. Don’t waste this opportunity with a promotional email that’s only says who you are, what you sell and what booth you’re in—all forgettable information. Nobody cares about any of that except people in the later stages of the selection process, and they already plan to visit exhibitors who sell what they need.

Instead, use this opportunity to be helpful. Assuming you know your target audience(s), share something of value. Share educational content that helps execs improve a process, solve a problem, or learn more about a challenge.

For example, if you sell email marketing systems, provide a few tips for getting more emails opened, and link to a blog post that explains more. Sign off with a reminder that you’re exhibiting in booth X at the show and would love to share more tips in person.

Remind attendees why they’re receiving your email so they don’t mark you as spam. Say something like, “You’re receiving our tips because you opted in to receiving emails from exhibitors during the ASAE Annual Meeting registration process.”

Be a good community citizen.

Stick to your agreement with ASAE. I’m guessing you have permission to send this group one email before the show and one email after the show. Comply with that agreement. Just because someone gave you their email address (or business card) doesn’t mean you have their permission to add them to your email marketing list—you don’t, that’s spammy behavior.

If you want to add someone to your email marketing list, send them one targeted email with educational content that helps them solve a problem or improve a process. Near the end of the content, insert your “call to action,” in this case, ask them to opt-in to your list. You could say, “If you would like more tips for [the topic of your valuable content], please subscribe to our bimonthly newsletter.” If they don’t opt-in, remove them from your list.

If you’re not in the email business, learn more about sending emails that will get noticed, opened, and acted upon. Visit the sites of your colleagues who blog about email marketing, for example, Informz, HighRoad, and Real Magnet. Look for posts on email subject lines, formatting, and calls to action.

You’ve been given access to an association exec’s inbox. That’s a big deal. Now, you have the opportunity to show them what kind of partner you would be. Will you be focused on her needs and help her solve problems, or will you be self-absorbed?

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Bark)

Before Google makes an acquisition, the target company must first pass co-founder Larry Page’s toothbrush test:

Is the company’s product or service used regularly to make people’s lives better?

How does your organization live up to that test?  Do your clients or members depend on something you provide to do their jobs? Does that product/service improve their professional or personal lives? Does it help them reach their goals?

If not, it’s way past time to research your market, talk to people and find out how you can meet their needs in a way that no other organization can.

If you do offer a “golden toothbrush,” can your clients or members get that same product elsewhere? If they can, what makes your offering so different or special? Why would they have a relationship with you?

Does your marketing copy brag about this product? Do you show how it can improve their lives? Do you provide proof – a testimonial or case study?

Attention, loyalty and dollars go to those who deserve it and prove it, day after day.

For more on Google’s toothbrush test, read Google has one essential test when it thinks about buying a company by Max Nisen at Quartz. 

membership B2B product service value toothbrush test

Photo by William Warby/Flickr CC license

Whoops, it’s already October, how did that happen? Here’s my selection of customer service and marketing smarties who impressed me in September.

Don’t you love spreading the word about a smart business that knows how to take care of its customers? So many businesses seem to forget who pays their salaries. “Word of mouth isn’t dead,” says Alan Belniak at Marketing Profs. No, it isn’t, especially when word of mouth is turbocharged by word of mouse. Alan tells us how Roche Bros., a Massachusetts supermarket chain, exceeded his expectations on a miserable day.

Andy Sernovitz’s blog Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That, is one of my favorite sources of smart marketing stories, like this one about an Austin running store, RunTex, that understands how to build awareness in their target market while also building goodwill. If you work in sponsorship sales or if you’re a business looking to spend your limited marketing budget wisely, take a look at this story and start brainstorming about how you can do something similar.

When I read this New York Times story I immediately thought, aha, marketing genius. Concierges and waiters at several upscale hotels and restaurants in Manhattan and Hampton wear clothes provided by Lacoste. “As a consumer, you’re sitting there and Lacoste is all around you,” said Charlie Walk, a partner at RJW Collective, a marketing agency based in Manhattan that works with Lacoste. “But it’s not in your face screaming to you that there’s a branded moment here in the middle of your meal — it’s an elegantly disruptive activation.”

How can you translate an idea like this for your world? How can you infiltrate your target customer’s life in a subtle yet noticeable way like that? Where do they hang out? What other products and services do they use? Here’s an idea that’s screaming to be the seed of a good brainstorming session.

Has anyone ever asked you, “do you think most people are good or bad?” I suppose your answer might depend upon your level of happiness, personal behavior and religion. I believe we’re good and stories like this reaffirm that belief for me. Couture Cakes, a small bakery in Newport News, raised $12,000 in two days, all their sales plus customer donations, for the family of an 11-year-old boy who was killed by a falling tree during hurricane Irene. They didn’t know the family; they just felt compelled to do it. Warms my heart.

A Fast Company article about how Whole Foods “primes” you to shop has been making the rounds. It’s a fascinating look at smart, not deceptive, merchandising practices. I can’t help but admire that company, and not just because their cheese section is my paradise on earth. We make decisions throughout life, but especially during the purchasing process, based on emotions and perceptions. What are your customers seeing when they walk into your store or office? Or browse your website? How are you influencing, and, dare I say it, manipulating their perceptions and emotions?

Despite what Peter Shankman says, Morton’s Steakhouse’s delivery of dinner to his airport arrival gate is not the greatest customer service story ever told. It’s an example of great social media monitoring leveraged into a PR coup. Why not go above and beyond with a regular customer who has nearly 111,000 Twitter followers? You’d be a fool to miss that opportunity. The real message to this story is that they listened. Any kind of response would have put them in the winner’s circle, like “Sorry you’re having a bad day, next time you’re in, let me buy you a drink.” Little gestures like that go a long way, although they won’t get you as much hoopla.

And the idiot of the month award goes to….. ConAgra Foods. The absurdity of this bonehead move made me laugh, but, lordy, how pathetic. Where do I even begin with this one? Invite food bloggers to a nice Italian restaurant for a VIP dinner with a celebrity chef and serve them frozen Marie Callendar’s lasagna? Enraging. Bloggers who cook with organic ingredients, not chemicals and dyes? Blech. And film them without permission with hidden cameras? Creepy. Scott Hepburn examines all the ways ConAgra and their agency, Ketchum, screwed up with their blogger outreach.

Every time The Most Interesting Man in the World advertisements for Dos Equis beer come on TV, we stop talking mid-sentence and listen. We can’t get enough of him. We love that guy.

Everyone loves that guy. Since Dos Equis first introduced the campaign, their U.S. sales have increased 22%, while other imported beer sales fell 4%. The Dos Equis Facebook page has 1.6 million fans. I’m telling you, it’s the Man.

Dos Equis is going after the same market as all the other gargantuan domestic and imported beer brands: young guys. Not me and not the middle-aged guy watching TV with me. So why are we so captivated?

The commercial’s unexpected sophistication and wit gets our attention. Its smooth music and vintage video clips and photos add a hip yet classic feel, distinguishing the campaign from the other frat-boy brands.

And there’s the Man himself. I may not want a relationship with him, but I’d sure like to spend an afternoon on his boat followed by dinner and dancing. Come on ladies, you know that’s true.

What young guy wouldn’t aspire to be like him? He has what they want: a life full of experiences that sets him apart from other men. The Man is a great example of aspirational marketing.

Good stories capture our imagination by making an emotional connection. In the Most Interesting Man in the Word campaign we meet a worldly character with an air of mystery and authority, sort of an Ernest Hemingway meets Sean Connery. We get a peek at his jet-setting life of adventure and are teased with just enough to make us want to know the rest of his story.

As if the fictional Man wasn’t interesting enough, the actor who plays him, Jonathan Goldsmith, has also led an autobiography worthy life: “rescuing a stranded climber on Mt. Whitney, saving a drowning girl in Malibu, sailing the high seas with his friend Fernando Lamas.”

The witty commentary accompanying the Man’s exploits takes Chuck Norris-isms to a more cosmopolitan level:

  • “Running in place will never get you the same results as running from a lion.”
  • “At museums he is allowed to touch the art.”
  • “The police often question him, just because they find him interesting.”
  • My favorite, on manscaping: “I have no idea what this is.”

The Man’s parting line is recitable: “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friends.” Many viewers think, “Hey, I don’t always drink beer either, I should give Dos Equis a try.” Brilliant.

The money question: do the ads compel the viewer to take action? The sales figures say yes, and I also have personal proof. Someone I know, not a young guy (sorry, honey), occasionally strays from his usual brand and brings home a six-pack of Dos Equis.

brand spokesman aspirational marketing