6 Tips to Generate ROI From Trade Shows

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Branded pens.

You’ve probably got a stash of them in your laptop bag from that last trade show you attended.

But have you ever thought about the kind of ROI companies like yours are getting from those pens? Well, really, the ROI your company is getting out of being an exhibitor at trade shows? What if there were certain steps you could take to increase that ROI?

That’s exactly what Hannah Mans came on the B2B Revenue Acceleration podcast to talk about. Hannah is the Director of Marketing at Directive, a B2B and enterprise search marketing agency. She follows a 6 step system to ensure her company gets the most ROI out of their trade show events.

Here’s what she had to say about her process.

1: Define What Success Looks Like

This is a critical step and the key is collaboration between sales and marketing. Both teams need to work together to create tangible goals centered around business objectives for a show.

Trade shows are a great generator of new business. Sales and marketing should work together to identify the target accounts that will be attending the show.

Trade shows are also a good opportunity to strengthen relationships with existing clients. In addition to working with sales to identify target accounts, consult with account management or client success to learn which of your current clients will be there.

2: Put The Right People On The Floor

Once you’ve defined what success will look like at your upcoming show, you need to get the right people on the floor.

Sales and marketing leaders will often send individuals that knows the most about the vertical, only to be disappointed by their performance at the show.

But at trade shows, personality is just as important as subject matter expertise.

Another common mistake people make is only sending their sales teams. Send a representative from the marketing department to ensure the logistics of the booth build and the collateral end up flawless. That person can also do field research, walk the exhibitor hall, and scope out what competitors are doing while they are there.

3: Do Something To Stand Out From the Crowd

Now, it’s time to draw people into your booth with an offer they actually care about.  

The goal here is to offer something more valuable to attendees than branded tee shirts or pens.

Obviously, what this offer is will be unique to your company’s product or service, but here’s an example, to hopefully help generate some ideas:

At a recent show, Hannah’s company offered attendees a complete on-site audit, including a full competitor analysis. The goal was to shed light on the potential the attendee’s firm had from an SEO/paid search perspective. Every attendee walked out with a printed copy of the audit.

4: Get Creative With Your ‘Swag’

“Swag” is what a trade show marketer calls your promotional material.

Think about items like lip balm, mints, or notebooks. If you’re creative with your swag, you can leverage it to help you generate additional opportunities for good conversations.

Consider one company that set up a fully candy bar at a show. Hannah says it was like a candy shop where you could funnel candy into a branded bag. This swag got attendees into the booth, but since it takes a while to fill a bag, staff got a great opportunity to strike up conversations with attendees.  

5: Include Social Media in Your Pre-Show Strategy

Your social media plan is just as important as the other aspects of your pre-show planning.

Several weeks before the event, start telling your followers where they can find you and what they can find at your booth. Find ways to incentivize your followers to stop by your booth, maybe by offering exclusive giveaways or swag.

Once your followers get to the booth, make sure you have good photo opportunities available.Make sure your branding will be visible in the photo. If attendees want to take a photo and share it, your brand gains exposure to new audiences and potential prospects.

6: Follow Up With Attendees

So, now you’ve gotten attendees to stop at your booth and you’ve struck up a conversation. It’s time to collect their information and follow up with them.

Regardless of how you collect the data, determine what structure you’re going to use to organize and maintain it.

Having a structure around the data collection at a show will help your sales team qualify leads, optimize for conversions, and eliminate any lead management headaches.

One More Thing:

You will get much more out of an event by engaging with prospects before the event even starts. Don’t simply wait for the event.

If you’re trying to engage with a net new prospect, try to drive them to a meeting. Consider taking the meeting off the trade show floor, perhaps at a nearby hotel. This way, your meeting becomes a more intimate engagement. You can sit down with the prospect, have a coffee, and really learn about what they’re struggling with. It’s deeper than just the elevator pitch you might throw out in the booth.

If you’re connecting with an existing prospect who is in the sales cycle, you might want to organize dinner or drinks, where existing customers are present and can speak about how great you are to the prospect.

Finally, for the customer you really want to cherish, perhaps the ones that attended dinner or drinks with your prospect, do something a bit more special.

Preparing for a trade show is not just about getting the booth ready or choosing your swag. Preparing well versus not preparing is like the difference between fishing and hunting. Without preparation you’re just fishing, simply waiting for someone to come to you. But with preparation, you have a lot more control and are more likely to increase your ROI.

This post is based on an interview with Hannah Mans from Directive.

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast.

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