Trade shows and corporate conferences are rapidly transforming into digital networking events. Those long weekends in Las Vegas, strolling through massive tents filled with covered tables and plastic swag, have disappeared, at least temporarily. Today, the go-to way to network within your industry and discover new products or services is via digital conferencing.
Online summits are nothing new, with the first known virtual trade show presented in 1993. Several marketing companies have developed entire multimedia virtual trade show platforms. Today, all kinds of industries leverage the value of bringing people together digitally to focus on training and product discovery.
Digital conferences are, after all, much simpler to organize and far less expensive. But the trade-off is that professionals may not be willing to pay as big of a price for admission without the opportunity to get face time with industry leaders and influencers. Whether you’re a buyer or a sales representative, big decisions require real conversations with the right people.
The question, then, is this: how do you get the most out of a digital conference? Training videos can be helpful, and downloadable white papers are a handy reference tool. But there’s still nothing like making a personal connection with the right person at the company you want to partner with for a business venture.
That is where direct mail comes in. It may seem old-fashioned in a digital world, but tangible marketing will make you stand out in a sea of emails and Skype calls.
Here are the best ways to leverage direct mail after a virtual conference.
From the second the organizer ends the virtual conference, attendees start to forget what they just watched. Modern attention spans are short because people are bombarded by content daily. By the end of the webinar, people are already prioritizing their next set of tasks.
That’s why it’s important to act fast and get those letters, postcards, or keychains in the mail. Start by following new contacts on social media immediately after the event, or better yet, during. The fact is that presenters at virtual conferences want to get new digital followers out of it. Expanding their influence is one of the primary reasons people agree to be a part of these online events.
It’s also best to have your direct mail creative on hand before the virtual event. If you send out letters, have the copy finished a few days before so that once you build your new contact list, all you have to do is print and send. Have as many things physically ready to go, so the only step left is adding some personal touches to your messaging and a trip to the post office.
Trigger Their Memory
Give the recipient clear evidence that you remember them from the event. If you “met” someone in a virtual exhibit hall, bring up points from the original chat in your direct mail letter. Alternatively, if you watched an online seminar, mention your top takeaway. Triggering their memory of how they got on your radar will make your communications far more personal and effective.
When you do get the chance to have a one-on-one conversation during a virtual conference, plant a seed to open the door. Be sure to let them know that you enjoyed the conversation and say you’re going to ship them something that might be of interest.
Be Consistent with Direct Mail & Online UX
Creating a consistent online and offline brand is something that goes a long way in building trust and awareness. The simplest way to do this is by putting your logo on absolutely everything. In your virtual conference avatar, it’s a good idea to use a photo of yourself wearing a company shirt. If you don’t have branded tees, drop a logo over your business headshot. When a contact gets your direct mail, that logo helps them connect the dots to you.
Also use consistent brand indicators such as colors and fonts. Use the photograph from your website homepage on the postcard. Start your letter with the same tagline you used in your virtual conference bio. You could make the main heading of your direct mail the same color as your logo. Anything that bridges your direct mailing to the previous digital meeting will be helpful.
Keep It Real
The internet is full of people who are pretending to be someone they’re not. Direct mail follow-ups demonstrate that you are a genuine professional focused on building your network. Avoid one-size-fits-all copy or phony personal references. Just be authentic. Let your true motivations show through, and convey your sincere feeling that a business relationship could be mutually beneficial. Especially in a virtual world, trust is a priceless resource.
Rely on the Familiar
According to recent data from the Association of National Advertisers, a letter-sized envelope for lead generation yielded the best response rate. While there may be several reasons for this result, it’s easy to infer that people still like to open letters. If it’s up to you to pick the type of direct mail that works best for your company, traditional paper notes are a good way forward.
Letters are easy to personalize and can be hand-signed for an extra human touch. Include a business card with all your contact information to make it super-easy for them to respond. Quality business cards these days are wonderfully inexpensive and make the ideal insert for your first direct mail contact. They add that extra professional touch and style.