Offline marketing covers many things, but trade shows, conferences and exhibitions make up one of the most popular activities. But too many companies invest £1,000s on appearing at trade shows and conferences, to only then not follow up. They lose out on the sales opportunities they went after by attending the event. If you are planning to exhibit at an event soon, here are our tips on maximising the ROI from exhibiting.
Before the event
Maximising the ROI from exhibiting is far easier when you follow these simple rules. You need to start work before the event takes place. It’s no good getting back from the trade show, or conference, and then deciding what you’re going to do. By the time you’ve got it all planned and set up, you will have missed the boat.
1. What are your key messages?
What do you want to say to the people you met at the event? What is it that will ensure they remember you in the weeks and months after the event?
2. Build your email campaigns
During the event you will have collected x number of leads. They will have filled in a form, given you their business card or let you scan their badge. Whilst a large percentage of them won’t be actively looking for what you sell at that moment in time, if they spoke to you, they are likely to at some point. The aim of these campaigns is to initially educate your leads on how you can help them (not what you do) to reinforce the conversation you have at the event. They should not be hard sell, as that is likely to put people off.
Remember to give them the opportunity to unsubscribe. All your emails must have unsubscribe links on them, but make it very clear in at least one of your emails. This will increase the trust they have in your business, because they will know you aren’t going to spam them going forward.
3. Engage with organisers and exhibitors on social media
If you are active on social media, make use of the activity generated by the event organisers. Liking, sharing and, most importantly, responding to their posts will often generate a response, thereby increasing your reach. If you are posting about attending, use the hashtags they recommend to maximise the chances of others engaging with you.
Don’t forget to look at your fellow exhibitors too. There’s a good chance some of them will be in the market for your services or products.
During the event
4. Keep the social media going
Even though you’re busy trying to talk to as many people as possible, and boost your lead count, take time out to engage with the social media chatter going on around the event. Share pictures of your stand, especially when it is busy. Busy means popular and attracts others, but only if you’re doing this when the event is on and there is still time.
After the event
5. Get the emails out!
People go to events for various reasons. To learn, to find new suppliers, to take a bit of time out. Whatever the reason, when they get back into the office, they are quickly back into their everyday activities. The bag of flyers and giveaways will go into a desk drawer or the B1N file and rarely get looked at again. A Series of emails, starting as soon as people are back in the office, will reinforce the conversations you had with people at the event.
Don’t expect that this part of the follow-up will generate a mountain of leads for you. There may be some people who are actively searching at the time, but most won’t be. These emails should entrench your brand into their mind’s eye, ready for the future.
Use the ranking tool within your email marketing platform to see who, and how they, engage with this campaign. As a Mailchimp partner, we are regularly checking the contact rating Mailchimp provides
Remember to tag (assuming your email tool allows this) everyone so you know where you met them. When they convert to leads in a few months’ time, you’ll know what marketing channel was the initial engagement tool.
6. Make the calls
Those who are actively interested will have asked you to call them. They are hot leads and should never be ignored – you’ll be surprised by how many don’t follow up.
Once you’ve completed these calls, start following up with those who were highly engaged with your email campaign. If they’ve read most, or all, of your emails, move the relationship forward. They still may not be ready to buy, but if you start to build a personal relationship with them, you should be first choice when they are.
7. Keep up contact
Once you’ve sent this initial email campaign and made the calls, it doesn’t mean that’s the end. The ROI from a trade show or exhibition usually takes months to really show. By keeping up contact, via email or phone, will maintain awareness levels so that they know who to call when they are in need of the services, or products, you provide.
We had a client who was unhappy two months after and event we’d been working with them on. The event had cost the best part of £10K to attend (including stand, collateral and time) and they had a few sales, but not many after two months. When we reviewed things again 10 months later, it had generated clients who’d spent over £100,000 with them – and were still clients.
So if you are considering exhibiting at trade shows and conferences, make sure you put in the time and effort to follow up. By doing this, you are far more likely to maximise the ROI from exhibiting. Of course, if you want some help in maximising the ROI from exhibiting, call us on 020 8634 5911 or click here.