How to Not Suck at Exhibitions – Part Two: Tools

“we’ve got the tools and the talent…”

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by | Feb 19, 2020

This is part two of a two part article on making the most of exhibitions. To read part one, click here.

The Tools You Need

OK… so you now know what you ‘should be doing’ when it comes to capturing live events… but what about the how?… the actual tools to use?

Well, firstly, you need a tablet of some sort that can “host” the forms and you can hand to people to complete – I’ve been an Apple fanboy for a while, but realistically any tablet should do the job.

The important thing though is the software you use to actually create the form… and I’ve identified 3 different tools you can use.  There may be more, but I know these all work and so haven’t looked further.

  1. A Live Landing Page
    OK… so I’m starting with the one that you’re least likely to use, because it does require an ongoing internet connection (and expo’s are notorious for having bad mobile signal, and expensive wifi!)… but using just a simple Mailchimp landing page can work perfectly fine.
    Create the landing page, as you would normally, but remember this is going to be completed at an event, so it probably just needs a headline and the form, it doesn’t need to be copy heavy… and remember to make sure you are using either tags or groups behind the form to specifically identify people at the event and to trigger any automated messages. If you’ve got a reliable connection and are using multiple tablets, this can work great… but it does rely on that internet connection… and if there’s any chance it stops working… you’re stuffed. Plus, it’s easy for people to press the wrong button and close the window/navigate somewhere else which is a pain to manage.
  2. The Mailchimp Subscribe App
    A long time ago (well it seems a long time ago), Mailchimp developed a specific Free App for tablets that links directly to your Mailchimp database – called Mailchimp Subscribe. With it you can create a simple ‘tablet friendly’ form, link it to your Mailchimp audience, and start capturing leads.
    It’s actually a really good simple solution, and the beauty is that it captures and stores the data even if you’re not connected to the ‘net… and then when you do, will push the data straight into your Mailchimp account – so no problems with going out of signal!
    I’ve used it many times and simply put, it works!… and it’s relatively easy to set up.  Plus it has a ‘kiosk’ mode, which locks the tablet down to just the form and means people can’t swipe or click onto something else… they just get the form to fill in.
    In fact, there is only a few potential problems that I’ve identified with Mailchimp Subscribe.
    Firstly, that it doesn’t work with tags. It does work with groups (so you can auto add to a group when a form is ‘submitted’), but as I’ve recently started to move over to use tags for some of my customers, it’s not the ‘perfect’ solution.
    Secondly, if you’re using Multiple tablets at an event, you can’t ‘copy and paste’ a form to another tablet… you need to create forms individually on each tablet, which is a bit of a pain.
    Finally, you are designing the form on the tablet, you can’t do it on a computer and then ‘load it in’ – not a deal breaker, but it might cause you trouble.
    …but to be honest, for most of you, this is an ideal solution. It’s simple, it’s free and it works (as long as you’re not using tags or multiple tablets!)
  3. Jotform
    Jotform is a form making software tool that some of you may have come across. It let’s you make a form and then share it/embed it with your market and integrates nicely with Mailchimp. I’ve used it a number of times and for certain tasks it’s really handy.
    …but what I only recently realised is that you can download a Jotform App that can be used in pretty much the same way as Mailchimp Subscribe… but without the problems I identified!
    The Jotform app works with tags (yay!), the forms are held centrally which means you can easily download to multiple tablets AND you can design the form on your computer! (plus it does the other stuff that Mailchimp Subcribe does, such as kiosk mode and offline capture).
    OK, so I get wayyy too excited when I find a great app to link with Mailchimp :-)… and there are a couple of things you need to know before you go and download the app and sign up…
    Firstly, you only get up to 100 submissions before you have to pay… but (as I do with some of my clients), I pay for one month (Currently $25) and then cancel after the event (and considering what you pay for the location and the stand graphics, $25 should be ‘small beans’.
    Secondly, it’s not as simple and intuitive as the Mailchimp Subscribe App… which means you can forget you’re designing a form for a tablet (and not a website).
    …but if you’re good with those, I’d definitely recommend you check it out if you’re doing live events… One of my clients has an event coming up this weekend and I’m setting the capture process up using Jotform.

So I expect you all to go check out Jotform if you’re doing any live events and download their tool… 🙂

One quick note, you should always tell people what they are signing up for and be transparent with how you use their data… It doesn’t matter if this is mandated legally (GDPR), or not, it’s a good practice to get into and takes away any confusion from the people who complete the form.

…and a couple of suggestions…

Make sure that you test the forms and systems thoroughly before the event… if you don’t and they don’t work, you could undermine the whole goal of the event.

…and make sure you train whoever is manning the tablets… so they know how to use it, and also how to “talk” about why someone should sign up and what they get for doing so.

Capturing is just Step One

As i pointed out earlier, capturing is just part of the process.

If you want to be effective and efficient, then you need to make sure you’ve got emails already written and set up as automations before you hit the event… so that as soon as a form is completed the email is sent.

Make sure the emails are directly referencing the event if at all possible but treat them like you would any other welcome email.

If you aren’t capturing and responding immediately, then chances are you may end up being part of the ‘flood’ of emails that they receive the next morning… whereas if you’re responding straight away, chances are you’ll be ahead of the flood (and thus be more likely to be received, opened and read!).

Live Events Can Work Brilliantly…

Attending a live event where you can capture leads is a great way to grow your business… but if you want to REALLY tick the boxes, then you need to put a little more effort in.

PLAN – have a clear objective for what the event is for and make sure everyone is on board.

CAPTURE – have a great capture tool that can support what you’re trying to do.

FOLLOW UP – have an automated system to follow up for everyone, leaving you to call the handful of ‘hot prospects’ directly.

Follow these simple rules and you can turn a good event, into a fantastic one!!!

This is part two of a two part article on making the most of exhibitions. To read part one, click here.

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Robin Adams

Robin Adams

Robin Adams is a business owner who is passionate about helping businesses build effective marketing systems that work and don't waste money. Having a lifetime of Marketing experience (he's got a degree in Marketing before there were degrees in Marketing!) and having worked for big and small businesses and both client and agency side, he understands not only the theory, but the systems that are required to underpin everything.
51% marketer and 49% Chimp, Robin is the main man behind and the Mailchimp Answers Facebook Group - the world's biggest Mailchimp User Group. Connect with him on Linkedin.

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