With many Boomers gearing up for retirement, and Generation Xers to follow suit soon thereafter, the road is paved clear for millennials to step in as the decision-maker for their respective companies.

Bridging the Gap: Lead Acquisition and Millennials

Millennials surpassed Generation X as being the largest share of the workforce in late 2015, according to a Pew Research Center report. What impact does this have on the trade show industry?

With many Boomers gearing up for retirement, and Generation Xers to follow suit soon thereafter, the road is paved clear for millennials to step in as the decision-maker for their respective companies. This fundamentally changes how salespeople should approach lead acquisition at exhibitions.

Understanding millennials
Smartphones, social media and on-demand access to the internetmillennials grew up with these things in their lives, and this should be kept in mind as exhibitors create their booths. The goal is to appeal to this specific demographic, rather than deploying a broad-reaching campaign.

"Millennials expect a two-way, mutual relationship with companies and their brands," the Boston Consulting Group wrote in a blog post. "We call this the reciprocity principle. Through the feedback they express both offline and online, millennials influence the purchases of other customers and potential customers. They also help define the brand itself. The internet, social media, and mobile devices greatly amplify millennials' opinions and accelerate their impact."

This generation enjoys challenging the status quo, which means you'll need to convince them your product is better than the competitor's, rather than relying on reputation alone. With all of this in mind, you'll want to create a marketing campaign that meshes well with your booth design. This means using technology to lure in a cold lead and turn it into a sure thing.

Marketing before the event
Pre-event marketing is now more important than ever before. Exhibitors need to build a connection with millennials, rather than treat them as just another customer. While this could be what your company has been doing all along, you'll deploy very different means to do so moving forward.

"Millennials enjoy engaging digital content."

It's well known that the modern marketing strategy incorporates a lot of digital aspects. This means spending more time and resources on all different types of social media like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. But what's lesser-known is what types of content actually work. To this we turn to a term dubbed Netflix'ization, according to Skura.

While you may read that millennials have short-attention spans, the opposite is true for things they really enjoy doing. The generation devotes countless hours to consuming digital content, like watching shows and movies on Netflix, meaning this could be an effective approach to take.

Rather than try and build a following with short interactions, consider drafting longer types of content that will resonate with the audience. So, instead of a short clip highlighting your product use-cases, create a longer montage that pulls real footage from past exhibitions. Create a weekly Snapchat or Twitter series that asks the audience for their input on engaging topics related to your industry. These types of interactions will help create a relationship between your brand and the consumer.

Netflix'ization is a strategy that incorporates engaging digital content.Netflix'ization is a strategy that incorporates engaging digital content.

Lead acquisition during the show
At this point, you should have a respectable following on social media. Now is your chance to parlay that into lead conversions.

Millennials don't want to feel like they're being spoon-fed information. Handshake reported that exhibitors should use interactive tactics to draw a crowd in and help drive home the point that your product is superior. There's no better way to create a modern, crowd-pleasing booth space than by incorporating event technologies.

Salespeople should take the time to vet an attendee on every aspect of the product—this speaks toward the reciprocity principle. Holograms can run from affordable to expensive, but for many industries they provide an excellent platform to display a ware, both by itself or in action. So, instead of telling millennials why a certain mechanism in the engine you're selling is better than another brand, you can actually disassemble a replica of a motor and show them exactly how it works.

It's also important to remember that while a networking event may be "just another socializing session" for industry veterans, these are crucial opportunities for millennials to advance their fledgling careers. If the trade show organizer hasn't set aside time for young professionals to meet, consider hosting a 15 minute meet-and-greet right at your own booth. This will guarantee visibility for your product and your brand and will help create a connection between your company and the target audience.

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