Intercept B-to-B Prospects on Their Own Turf

I’m not a football player, and I don’t fully understand the rules. If a penalty flag flies on a play, I usually have to wait for the ref to explain it. I’m clueless about the finer points of blocking and tackling, and I certainly can’t predict which team is likely to win a tight match.

But I do know this. If one player intercepts a pass and runs it back toward the end zone, everybody stands up and screams like mad. That’s a big deal. A game-changer. A headline-generator.

By the same token, intercepting prospective customers and taking them to your company’s end zone can generate instant excitement in your marketing organization – as it eventually will in your finance department.

As I walked the aisles at a trade show recently, a sales rep walked over to me and handed me a sample of his product that was actually glued to his business card. He then gave me a 15-second “elevator speech” and left me with a positive impression while I kept walking. I was impressed by his beautifully simple tactic, though I wasn’t in the market for his product (high strength industrial paper strap).

The point is, he was the only one who intercepted me like this during the show. I remembered what he did, and I kept his sample. Had I been a bona fide prospect, I would have checked his website and product line, compared his benefits and pricing, and possibly contacted him by phone or email. I can only imagine how many new customers he picked up by consistently intercepting prospects for several days at the show.

What can you do at a trade show to engage prospects who come near your booth? Quite a bit – from mini-demonstrations, to conversation starters, to video badges on your reps’ lapels, to unique product samples and giveaways, to relevant entertainment, to engaging hands-on experiences that bring your products and services to life.

You can intercept prospects far from the trade show floor, too. For example, when they search for your product categories online, do they encounter your company near the top of the page – or on featured ads? If not, revisit your SEO or SEM strategies. When they browse trade publications (paper or online), do they come across your news, product launches, and technical content from time to time? If not, it may be time to hire an agency that maintains solid relationships with key industry editors and gatekeepers. Are your company’s key players quoted in high-profile industry articles – and do they appear in panel discussions at seminars? If not, fine-tune your PR and networking tactics.

Possibilities abound. Consider getting involved in professional associations that your prospects attend. Look for ways to connect with prospects around personal interests as well as professional interests. Participate in online groups, blogs and discussions that your prospects will notice.

It’s all about intercepting prospects on their own turf – leveraging the element of surprise – and building potential for starting a conversation that is valuable for both parties.I can tell you that an effective integrated marketing approach leaves “no stone unturned” in finding ways to intercept a prospect and develop him into a real customer.

I still don’t get the whole thing about touchbacks in football, though. Can somebody please explain this to me?

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