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)