You want to send reps to tradeshows. Your management keeps tallying up the costs: sponsorship fees, travel expenses, giveaways, miscellaneous costs, F&B. Sure, it adds up. But a tradeshow done right is always much more profitable than nearly any other option. The big question is: are you doing it right, or are you failing to wring every possible benefit out of the event? You just need to follow the 10 Commandments of Tradeshow Profitability.
Thou Shalt Take It Seriously
- Get buy-in from your whole staff and hold people accountable. Buying a booth, showing up, and leaving isn’t going to yield the best results.
- Be ready with a plan going in and be willing to get all stakeholders participating in success.
Thou Shalt Partner With Event Organizers
- If you’re holding an educational or social event, brainstorm with them to see how they can help you attract more and better attendees.
- Negotiate support before signing contracts to minimize costs and maximize opportunity.w
Thou Shalt Understand The Cost-To-Value
- CFOs are getting insistent that tradeshow budgets reflect all costs – exhibit space, electricity, travel, meals, etc.
- It’s also important to know the value of a sale, a relationship, and a product.
- Knowing the sales cycle is also critical to making decisions. What’s the value of getting in front of a client now for a deal that will close in six months or a year?
- Also, what’s the alternative cost to be in front of live prospects?
Thou Shalt Invest In A Strong Marketing Staff
- Staff your booth with a team that really wants to be there -- the most outgoing and knowledgeable extroverts that can best represent your company.
- Trade shows are for marketing first, and selling second, so ensure a strong handoff between those that generate leads and those that will follow up.
Thou Shalt Invest Your Time And Money In A Strong Follow-Up System
- Invest in a system to capture and digitize attendee information immediately. Collecting business cards is great but they are useless if there is no follow-up.
- Assume your competitors have a digitized process to capture lead information and will be setting follow-up appointments while they are still at the show.
- Assign follow-ups to specific people so no leads fall through the cracks.
Thou Shalt Get Involved With The Event
- Don’t just be a statue at a booth.
- Try to attend a few sessions, switch off with your team members to sit with attendees at lunch and engage on a personal level. It will help you build relationships and you will be able to strike up more relevant conversations.
- Network, network, network.
Thou Shalt Leverage Social Media (Before, During, And After The Event)
- Connect with attendees and build your profile before the event through your blog and updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Tweet relevant content during the event.
- Use video to stand out
- Invite customer feedback afterward.
Thou Shalt Collect Level Of Interest
- At a minimum, jot your name and notes about their issues on their business card, and assign one person to collect and enter information into your database for follow up.
- Include the solution they’re interested in, the issue they’re trying to resolve, other contacts they’ve had with your organization, and any qualitative intel that will help the person following up – such as “launching a new website in Q2” or “unhappy with solution X.”
Thou Shalt Follow Up Promptly And Professionally
- Before the event even begins, be ready to follow up.
- Prepare a brief, customizable email template to send out immediately afterward. It can come directly from the sales professional who spoke with the prospect, or it could reference the conversation and any key information you were able to capture.
- If the prospect doesn’t respond, follow up with a thoughtfully scripted phone call where you position yourself as a resource they can turn to when they are ready to talk.
- Don’t stalk and don’t be pushy but do be responsive and close the loop.
- And be absolutely sure that only one person is doing the follow-up. (This is why it’s critical to work from a single database.)
Thou Shalt Track And Measure The Results
- After the follow-up emails have been sent and calls have been made, note how many are still in your marketing and sales funnels, and how many deals closed.
- Monitor this throughout the year to determine whether the trade show is worth investing in the next time.