In July 2023, around 9000 savvy design industry visitors descended on the Melbourne Exhibition Centre for the Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) keen to discover the latest in furniture and interior products. As one of the most important events on the Antipodean design calendar, it was a crucial opportunity to connect with the industry and grow new relationships.

Have you been nurturing those leads? Don’t let them grow cold before the end of 2023! Here are our tips to nurture your connections from the show and take them from a nice interaction to a meaningful client relationship.

#1 Slice & Dice Your Contacts

Start by organising and categorising your contacts from AIFF – from warm leads to cool. Think of it as arranging a showroom where every piece must be placed with intention. Tag each contact based on their level of interest, so that you can tailor your communications appropriately.

The Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) 2023 at Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

#2 Engage Thoughtfully

Ideally you should reconnect with your new leads swiftly, while impressions are still vivid. However, we all know life gets busy. If you haven’t yet connected with your leads since AIFF in July, now is an excellent time to contact them before the year gets away completely.

Reach out with a personalised message that references a standout moment from your interaction at the show, and suggest a next step, be it a private showroom tour or an interior design consultation in the new year.

#3 Offer Expertise

Your follow-up should be informative and enriching rather than an overt sales pitch. Provide them with valuable content such as design guides, trend reports, or case studies that illustrate your expertise.

Show them how you can enhance their business. Paint them a picture that not only captivates but demonstrates how your designs or products elevate spaces, weaving the practical with the aesthetic.

#4 Track and Fine-Tune

Conversion takes time. Keep a close eye on the success of your follow-up strategies. You might like to employ a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to monitor interactions and note patterns in response rates and online engagement.

Customer surveys can also yield critical insights. You can refine your approach based on this data, optimising your outreach for better engagement and return on investment.

#5 Be Charming, Yet Persistent

Connecting with a potential client often requires several tries. It’s important to always be charming and considerate of someone’s time and bandwidth. While determination is a fantastic quality, you need to honour their preferences and taking response cues is essential.

The Champagne Lounge at AIFF & Decor + Design 2023, Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

Vary your communication channels and ensure your messages stay compelling. For example, if you’ve connected via LinkedIn or Instagram, you can use these more general channels as a way to stay relevant.

#6 Utilise Positive Feedback

Leverage glowing testimonials and client referrals. Invite happy clients to share their success stories with your design solutions or furniture pieces. Personal recommendations are a potent asset in establishing trust and cultivating new leads.

You may like to offer incentives for referrals, which could include service discounts or exclusive previews of new collections.

#7 Nurture Beyond the Transaction

Cultivate lasting relationships by engaging with your industry contacts through professional networks like LinkedIn. Celebrate their professional milestones and interact with their published content. Show that you value their journey and success as much as the business they bring.

Creating authentic connections often outlives the initial sale and can result in a loyal client base that delivers results in years to come.

#8 Put AIFF 2024 in Your Diary 

As the only dedicated buying and networking event for the furniture industry in Australia, thousands of visitors return to AIFF every year, or attend for the first time. It’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect and nurture your industry contacts.

The show will pivot to a three-day format in 2024, from 17 – 19 July at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. With a redesigned floorplan, it will also be a more focused retail space for commercial buyers to view the latest products.

Subscribe now to stay in the loop and be advised when AIFF 2024 visitor registration opens!