Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
"The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge
and the dissemination of truth."

John F. Kennedy

Meet our Thoughtleaders:
An Interview with Michael J. Hatch
by Gordon Nary


Return to Mike's Webpage


Gordon:  Mike, you have been an innovator throughout your career. You started a revolution by introducing the original Nomadic pop-up exhibit to the exhibit industry. Your exhibit company was one of the first to install a large-format digital printing system. And the event technology company you helped launch was the first to offer a web-based expo management program, and one of the first to use Salesforce CRM  for sales and lead management. What innovations and technologies do you see in the near future that will change the exhibit and event industry?  
   
Mike:      Well, the possibilities are somewhat endless, but here are a few I think will have a big impact.
 
Video is 10x more engaging than still photography. You see it used on most of the top event organizer’s web sites now in the form of attendee testimonials, webcasting, and live streaming keynotes and exhibits on the trade show floor. Exhibit builders will use it more and more on their websites, YouTube, in email marketing, product rollouts and more.
 
Marketing Automation and better, more affordable email marketing technologies will help exhibitors to finally conquer the age old problem of poor, no, and inconsistent lead follow-up and management. And just as it has in sports, more data from these better systems will allow exhibitors, designers and builders alike to be more effective targeting their follow-up marketing campaigns, close more deals than ever before and document them.
 
The Internet of Things (IoT): The key here for our industry is the connectivity and integration of business systems and equipment. Today, the average consumer uses 20 interconnected devices (M2M) – today! That number is projected to double or triple in the next five years. For business it means CRMs integrated with logistics and asset tracking; RFID and NFC systems that drive customer data to lead capture, management, marketing automation programs and mobile devices.
 
   
Gordon:  Mike, content marketing is a big topic and challenge for a lot of exhibitors, exhibit builders and service providers. Can you offer any advice to help everyone develop and deliver more quality content on a consistent and continual basis?  
   
Mike:     As promising as marketing automation was (and still is) when Eloqua first debut their lead generation and demand management platform in 1999; I immediately saw the biggest hurdle for their clients would be how to develop the volume of content needed to fuel their automated follow-up and campaigns. That is still the case today. Fortunately, there is a lot of content available for savvy companies and organizations both in-house, and from the field. Much of it is either free, or easily mined.
 
Going back to my comments about video and live streaming – many industry associations live stream their annual conference keynotes and education programs now, and it is relevant content for your customers too. Associations will often allow companies to sponsor live streams, and/or, rebroadcast this content via the sponsor’s website. And your email marketing and marketing automation campaigns can direct your customers to your website to view this content.
 
If your association does not live stream their conference, make an offer to sponsor part or all of the expense, and ask for first-rights to simulcast and rebroadcast. In this way they produce all of the content, and you just repurpose and broadcast it via your site.

For designers and builders, videoing the debut of your client’s new exhibit in your shop, or better yet at their industry trade show is a great way to capture engaging content (i.e. 10x more) that already exists. And you don’t have to broadcast it all at once. It can be parceled into multiple links and offered in two or more email campaigns.

There are a dozen more ways to find and repurpose existing content for marketing and lead follow-up campaigns.
You can ask your favorite IT, marketing manager, agency or consultant for ideas.
 

 
Gordon:  Mike, you touched on CRM and lead gen a little; given the bottom line importance of sales revenue from trade show leads, can you give our audience some advice on what to expect in there in near future?  
   
Mike:       After presenting an industry seminar on marketing automation a couple years ago, I recall a CEO coming up afterward and telling me: “I still have 250 leads sitting on my desk from the Exhibitor Show we did over a month ago. I get what you said; we need help!”

For most exhibitors lead gen at trade shows is not their big problem. It is the lack of follow-up, inconsistency, not closing on the leads, and not being able to document what is eventually closed, dead, or still alive.

PRE-show preparation for your follow-up campaign and tracking the response to it are crucial. The good news is once you do it one time, it can be easy to repeat show after show. A good CRM, email marketing or marketing automation program are essential to execute, manage and track this.

Keep in mind that there is often more business from your leads in the 12 to 24 months AFTER the show, as there is in the first twelve months. However, if your sales team does not do a good job of follow-up for 24 months, most of that business will go to your competition.

So you want to create a 24-month email campaign. But you do NOT need to send emails out to them every month. How about every quarter, or even 6 months? That’s probably 3x more than you’re following up now. Whatever your schedule, just be consistent and execute it without fail. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results if you do.

Gordon, do you think these ideas might help your audience?
 
   
Gordon:    Yes I do. What if some of them have questions or want more detail?  

 

 
Mike:       They are welcome to email or call me. I would be glad to answer their questions and help. My email is mikejhatch@gmail.com. And my phone number is 240-03-6044