You may think planning the months up to your biggest tradeshow is the most important in your trade show strategy. It is crucial, but some of the hardest work to move you from leads to sales comes after the thrill of the trade show is gone.
Let’s hit the playback button for a minute and review.
Immediately after your annual trade show, evaluate what went well and what issues you want to avoid in upcoming trade shows. What kind of products did customers buy or commit to purchasing? What messaging cut through?
When you gather the leads from the show, be sure to connect customers to invoices (what they purchased). When you record sales leads after the trade show, note if those sales came from those who were customers before the show, if they bought for the first time after the show, and if they’ve purchased multiple times after the show. This will help you clearly identify between repeat customers and new ones. It will also provide clues about what may have helped move customers to repeat purchase and what brought new customers to purchase for the first time.
Remember to compute your cost per lead, which is a calculation of your display costs over how many leads you generated in the booth.
Also calculate ROI using the total of sales you can directly connect to the show and compare the total to your cost associated with being part of the trade show. Include travel costs and the size-per-square-foot of booth space.
Once you have finished your sales process with all the leads generated from the trade show, calculate their worth by dividing the total business won from the leads collectively and then divide that by the total number of leads generated and compare. If leads generated from your trade show marketing have more value than leads generated from other sources, you may be able to support a larger budget for the next trade show, and /or adjust your overall marketing budget as needed.
This assessment also helps you determine the trade shows to attend in the future. Which ones offered high target-audience attendance? Link this back to your goals to see if any given trade show is valuable enough for you to attend.
That’s enough review, so let’s get down to specifics. Here’s what should be on your checklist to consider when developing your post show strategy:
Prioritize your leads.
Of course, you’d like to put the same effort into all your possible leads, but prioritize them using a vernacular temperature scale (hot, warm or cold), or work them by whether they were inbound or engaged with your other marketing efforts. Call your hot leads. Don’t wait to craft and send an email for those who indicated interest and engagement at the trade show. Leads in the warm category can wait for a call until after you’ve emailed.
Follow up with an email.
Make follow-up emails and phone calls a mini-campaign, complete with goals and objectives.
Know that all your competitors will do the same, so try to personalize the email to each contact as much as possible. Plan to send a follow-up email within two days of the trade show, which is a best practice for trade show follow-up. The earlier the better, as your lead will have a better chance of remembering who you are and any conversation exchange. You can include a photo from your booth in your email, which will provide visual cues for your recipient.
In your email, with or without a photo, remind the person how you met at the trade show and include a specific reference to the conversation you had, which will help your contact better recall you and your business. For example, you might reference a discussion about a recent industry trend and thank them for their insight or share a resource related to the conversation. Personalizing your email follow-up demonstrates your genuine interest in getting to know them.
A tip on writing an effective thank you note: Make it about your contact first before you include the thanks. Don’t start with “thank you for your time” because that’s not what cuts through the clutter. Try something that puts the focus on the recipient, such as, “You seemed to know so much about growth trends in your region. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me at the Big Tent trade show.”
If you didn’t take enough notes, or your booth was the center of attention and action (congratulations) and you simply don’t have the resources to use such a personalized email plan, create a customizable framework for each email message you plan to send people. This strategy can guide you in creating concise and relevant messages. Even though it’s a template, it can provide guidelines on the important flow and content of the message, like information about the event and a call to action. Working with a template can help you remember to include important information to send in an email.
Send them to a specific landing page with pictures of your product. Have an email ready to go out thanking people for visiting your booth, but, again, don’t make it “thank you, now all about me.” This should be written, designed and ready to go once you upload your show list. This simple step can convince a prospect to call you. Make sure the information is relevant and helpful.
Reinforce your content expertise.
Develop content in conjunction with your trade show efforts. This will help with other marketing campaigns, build thought leadership, and create leads further along the sales funnel. Along with building credibility, quality content also improves search engine optimization. This content should be developed long before you attend the trade show. Bonus: It can help you craft more concise and compelling trade show booth messaging.
Segment your leads and have a key plan for these contacts. Make sure contacts get the information they requested. Remember, your competition is also sending them information. Segments can include hot leads, warm leads, information follow up, or so-cold-they’re-disqualified leads.
Continue with related social media.
At a minimum, industry news media is following you, so keep social media posting active and develop stories through each of your channels that include images, video and written content. Not only do your followers appreciate this, but your sales team can also use the stream of content.
Conduct a post-show team survey.
Send out a survey to your team to determine what went well, what was missing, and what should be done next year. Do this early while it is still fresh. If you work with an agency or exhibit house, include them in this survey. Consider open-ended survey questions, not questions that can be answered with a yes or no. It’s the who, what, where, when and why of formulating questions.
- What crisis items did we experience?
- What can we do to avoid them next time?
- Who was the persona or profile of the perfect person we met?
- How could we have met more of the right people?
- Where did the right people go in the exhibit?
- What did we learn about our competitors?
- What were the top three benefits of the trade show?
- What were the top three disadvantages?
Don’t be the company that gets back from a week in Las Vegas and suddenly becomes too busy to follow up with leads or do a post-show review. These tips will help your trade show and event efforts be more successful.
Evaluate what went well and what issues you want to avoid in upcoming trade shows, analyze customer buying behavior and messaging effectiveness.
Connect customers to invoices and note if sales came from existing customers or new ones to identify repeat customers and assess the effectiveness of the trade show in attracting new customers.
Divide the display costs by the number of leads generated in the booth to calculate the cost per lead.
Total the sales directly connected to the show and compare it to the cost associated with participating in the trade show, including travel expenses and booth space size.
Divide the total business won from the leads by the total number of leads generated to calculate their worth and compare it to leads from other sources.
Evaluate the target-audience attendance of trade shows and link it back to your goals to determine their value and relevance for your business.
Use a temperature scale (hot, warm, or cold) or consider inbound or engaged leads to prioritize your follow-up efforts. Call hot leads first and send emails to warm leads.
Send a follow-up email within two days of the trade show to increase chances of lead recall. Personalize the email by referencing the conversation and including a photo from your booth if possible.
Develop quality content in conjunction with trade show efforts to build thought leadership, improve SEO, and support marketing campaigns.
Ask open-ended questions to evaluate what went well, what could be improved, the profile of ideal leads, ways to meet more of the right people, visitor behavior in the exhibit, competitor insights, and the top three benefits and disadvantages of the trade show.