Tradeshow marketing is a tactic that has shown amazing resilience over the years. Marketers see no substitute for face-to-face meetings with clients, prospects and key business partners that can make such an impact.
Why Tradeshows and Conferences are worth the investment
A few statistics from the industry convey the strength of Tradeshows and Events being part of a marketing strategy. (See more at: Bizzabo, 2018)
Most (41%) marketers believe that events are the single-most effective marketing channel over digital advertising, email marketing and content marketing. This reflects a 32% increase since 2017. (Bizzabo, 2018)
68% of B2B marketers agree that live events help generate the most leads, while case studies help convert and accelerate the most leads. (Marketing Charts, 2018)
You may have been participating at Tradeshows and Conferences year after year, but how much return on investment has it generated? What can you do to improve the number and quality of your leads?
Best practices to turn your event into a lead generation success
In order to maximize your investment into this event marketing strategy, here are a few tips to achieve success.
1. Establish Your Goals Success means different things to different people…therefore when you plan an event, establishing objectives is an essential part of your strategy to assess return on investment. What do you want to accomplish at this event?
Define your key performance indicators and this will help you develop an action plan for your event. Your objectives can extend beyond sales and marketing such as:
Generate awareness Build Brand notoriety Present new products Offer product demos Target specific audiences Meet new prospects Meet face to face with customers Meet new channel partners
2. Set Key performance indicators
Determining KPIs to provide quantifiable data outlining how an investment will yield measurable returns is an important part of your planning process and results reporting. Also make sure your target audience and decision makers are part of the attendance before selecting a tradeshow.
Here is a short list of some of the best indicators for measuring trade show success.
Value of leads – Set a timeline and process to track revenue generated over a predetermined time period to evaluate your ROI. Make sure your post-show process to distribute leads to sales is done quickly. A timely follow up should be done within 2-3 days of the end of the show
Customer meetings – You’ll need to measure customer meetings held during the trade show event, but also track the ones that will take place after the event.
Press coverage – If you made an announcement at or before the event, you can measure the amount of exposure made in trade publications during and after the event was held. This can be a news article, interview, TV spot, or press release.
Promote. Promote. Promote – By using social media and your website to boost interest in your company and promote your tradeshow participation, you can track social media shares, likes, downloads, new followers, hashtags, and web visitors. Assess the impression you made on attendees!
Direct marketing engagement – Pre-show emails is a great way to drum up some buzz and share what you’re doing in your booth. Is your database ready? If you need help, outsource to your agency.
The follow-up with a post event email to leads with information based on their interests is also a great way to nurture contacts. Make sure you get their permission to receive emails and provide a way to unsubscribe. Measuring their interest by making phone calls is another way to qualify them further and get them in the sales cycle when mature. This can be done by sales or again, outsourced.
Booth visitors – Did your booth attract hot prospects? Did many customers and business partners drop by? Track these visitors to establish if you are attracting your target audience.
Track all your KPIs from trade show to trade show to compare data and evaluate where you are successful and where you are less to gage whether you are getting the ROI you need to justify your participation.
Cost vs. ROI – Another popular way to evaluate the ROI of an event is to evaluate the cost per lead and compare it to the cost of a salesperson going to each of those prospect’s offices for an in-person meeting. Take your total show costs and divide it by the number of leads generated by the show, and this results in your cost per lead. Then figure out how much time, travel costs your sales rep would have incurred and compare.
3. Make a splash! Make an impression on visitors.
A tradeshow is the perfect venue to create excitement and make the experience memorable for visitors dropping by your booth. No matter what your budget is, you can make an impact in many ways.
Here are some basic considerations:
Select the best booth location. You can consider being in a high-traffic and highly visible area depending on your booth size. Selecting a location at the entrance of the event, near a popular company that can bring higher traffic, or even theaters or food stations. If there are competitors you want to stay away from, make sure to alert the event organizers.
Design an impactful exhibit. No matter your booth size, it should stand out in the crowd. An exhibit designer can recommend some budget-friendly but eye-popping elements such as bold graphics, signage, light boxes, interesting or unique elements, audiovisual elements or props. A passerby must also be able to understand in a glance what your value proposition is. Message is also key.
Attract interest by handing out a giveaway or have a draw. Giveaways are a great way to attract more visitors and makes it easier to engage in a conversation. You can qualify them during the discussion and increase your lead generation results. Invest in a cool giveaway and make the process to win interesting.
Get your staff motivated and enthusiastic. One of the most important aspects of your participation is how your employees engage with visitors. Share plans and objectives with them. Make sure they are up to date with products and offer presented. You can even set-up a fun contest to engage them into a performance competition.
When choosing a representative to staff a booth, it’s wise to use a variety of considerations to make your decision. An employee with in-depth knowledge of both your industry and technical features and benefits of your product is an asset. You may find star salespeople are not always be your best bet.
Get the word out and follow-up your leads.
Preparing the database. One of the most important assets your company owns is its database of customers and prospects. If you do not have your house in order and are lacking the resources to develop a solid database and maintain it, you can rely on your marketing partner, an agency that knows your business well. Make sure your database includes fields to enable criteria selection by product interest, region, title, and all that is pertinent to your business.
Developing short but impactful emails. The next step is to prepare your message to be sent by email. This can be done in-house, but again, if you do not have the bandwidth or expertise to do it, this is a service you can outsource to your agency. Keep the graphics simple and focus on promoting your event and letting them know how they will benefit if they attend. Timing the email is also important…send it in advance so they have time to register to attend unless you know they typically attend, then send it the week prior to the event.
Follow-up those leads. This is the most important action that will bring in the revenue. Sending an email after an event with pertinent information is important but leads that are considered qualified opportunities need to be contacted by phone. One way to make sure they have been contacted and further warmed up is to rely on your marketing partner that has resources to support your business development needs and trained to act as pre-sales. This will save your sales team some time and follow-up with the contact at a pre-determined time. This is great teamwork.
At the end of the day, you want to create a memorable experience for your prospects while engaging them in a away that interests them to know more about your offer and consider doing business with you. Then contact them to start a conversation.