The first step in determining how to segment the referrers is to review that pre-show attendee list. Generally, referrers are more difficult to select by title than decision-makers, but sometimes you can use your industry experience to determine relevant selection criteria. Many of the pre-show lists will have “industry type” or some similar field you can select from; possibly your company has better luck in targeting leads by geography, so you can select in that fashion.

If the pre-show list has very few fields to select from, and you are promoting to a referrer base, then you may want to consider an alternative channel to deliver your offer to your prospects. You might place an ad in the trade show guide attendees receive, or produce a stand-alone insert to be placed inside the bags attendees are given. Or, you might purchase a sponsorship package which includes point-of-show signage.

Once you select your audience, you need to choose your offer. For the referrer, we recommend you utilize the chance to win a physical product via a drawing, rather than the guaranteed gift in exchange for the person’s time.

There are many giveaways out there, and about half of them are oriented toward the male-audience; typically golf. Of course, free electronics are perennially popular: a few years ago PDAs were the rage; lately, iPods are a hit.

But, there’s one element overlooked by most exhibitors giving away a product to entice people to stop by: Choice.

We don’t suggest you present a plethora of products for prospects to pick from; that can actually depress the response to your pre-show mailing. Choice is good; overchoice is overkill.

But what is overlooked at so many trade shows is the importance of women and non-traditional male-buyers. How many times have you seen a salesmanblow off a person stopping by their trade show booth, simply because that person doesn’t fit the buyer profile?

But, what about the referral profile? How many times do we focus on that? What is the profile of your referrals at a trade show? Do they have to understand in-depth what your product does? Do they have to repeat verbatim your sales shtick to their boss or to the person at their company who could buy your product?

Hardly. The person needs to:

  • Like your sales staff. (They did pay attention to her, right?)
  • Understand your brand’s key benefit to their company.
  • Leave her contact info to enter the drawing.
  • Know who to pass on the information to in their company. Booth staff should tell her the title of who that might be.

If you want her to refer, then follow-up after the show with a mail piece or an email or possibly a phone-call, if sufficiently pre-qualified at the show. Your sales staff needs to supply your potential referrers with a smile, a soundbite about your company, a warm handshake while repeating the person’s name, and just a couple minutes of good-natured, light-conversation.

So, what about that choice in giveaway we mentioned above? We suggest your offer be “Enter to Win Your Choice of Grand prize A or Grand Prize B”. Grand prize A might be golf clubs, B might be a complete high-end cookware set. Or A might be a vacation to Vegas, and B to Orlando. The key is to offer two different grand prizes to attract a wider audience.

You can offer a higher-priced grand prize if you target smarter. Pre-mailing actually helps you achieve far more bang from your marketing budget, because you can reduce your promotional costs by smarter, more focused prospect targeting.