While things are still very uncertain, a lot of companies are looking ahead to ramping up their tradeshow programs. Tempting, but before you book anything, make sure you’re going to maximize your investment. Here are my tips:
- Do the math before you book. Set objectives to determine how many closed deals you need for the show to pay off. Then calculate back to your lead goal while also taking a critical eye into lead quality. Can you expect enough leads? Will the attendees be the right industry, title and geo? If it doesn’t add up, invest budget elsewhere. Plus, 2022 hack – I frequently hear from clients who book the same shows every year is that if they don’t show up, it looks like the company is struggling financially. Take advantage of the pandemic to break the cycle and get yourself out of shows without an ROI.
- Once you’ve made the decision to attend, strategize your communications. Don’t waste resources driving leads to attend the show from your database – that’s what you’re paying the show producer for. Instead, use pre-show communication to get meetings from high value or engaged prospects who might be attending. Ideally, send these as a 1:1 outreach from sales and take advantage of that personal touch. This is a great time to maximize any named account lists or ABM.
- Every single lead from the show is going to have to be tracked. Every. Single. Lead. So, think about this before you have a team on the floor. How are you going to get leads into marketing automation? A list load after the show? Daily uploads of scans? However it happens, put the leads into a unique campaign and include the show cost so you can run reporting to see if the show was worth the investment.
- Make sure to communicate with sales so they don’t circumvent the process. You probably don’t have to make reps turn their pockets out to check for business cards (although I’ve had to do that!), but a polite discussion on how tracking means you can justify booking the show for next year usually does it. If you have a rep really excited about a hot lead who doesn’t want to hand it off, use your mobile and put it into your marketing automation on the spot.
- Once you have lead capture handled, think about segmentation My suggestion is Hot, Warm, Cold. Hot leads are those that have engaged with a rep and specifically asked for follow up. Warm leads are those that have an interest other than just being polite or to register for your booth swag. Cold leads are everyone else – the higher volume that didn’t engage, but let you scan their badge or a list provided by the show producers.
- Use that segmentation to plan a post show communication plan and frame your follow up email before the show. Maybe Hot leads go right to the assigned rep for a 1:1 demo offer. For Warm – an email offering both a piece of well targeted thought leadership and a chance to connect with a rep. For Cold leads, that same thought leadership and maybe a nurturing program to further qualify and gain engagement. Taking the time to set emails in marketing automation before the show means less scrambling after and you can communicate the plan to booth staff so they’re more effective at segmenting leads.
- And make those follow up emails attention getting. Don’t say “Thanks for attending XYZ show” or worse “Following Up…”. Mention your new product demo, hot cookies, scratch off prize card or the neon sign. Something to remind them about what they learned about your company at the show. (Tip – if you can’t think of anything, it might be time to revamp your booth presentation and giveaways so you can!)
- After the show, getting emails out is easy – just give the ones you set up one more look, update any timely news and blast. Test timing to see what works for your audience. If you send an email too quickly after the show, it will be buried in clutter. If you send it too late, no one will remember you. I usually recommend starting with a test of sending Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning the week after the show versus later that week to find your sweet spot.
- Be respectful of permission. If someone let you scan their badge or their contact info came in as part of the show sponsorship, they didn’t opt in to your weekly newsletter. Give them a chance to engage, rather than just dumping their email into regular contact.
- And last, review your reporting to see if the show paid off. If you followed the tips above, you’ll be able to pull reports from your marketing automation or CRM. (It may take a few months if one of your goals is closed business). I also suggest holding a quick post-show meeting with the on site team to brainstorm on ways to improve if you attend again.
Need some help increasing return on your tradeshows? Figuring out how to vet the return? I’m here!