August 30, 2016
There is always another trade show to sponsor or attend, and the costs add up quickly. The question is “do trade shows improve sales?”
In a survey of 100 business owners and marketing managers, 44% said they didn’t calculate their Return on Investment (ROI) for trade show activity.
Yes, it’s difficult to measure benefits such as reaching many potential customers in a short amount of time and giving consumers access to real people at the company. Yet businesses can still gain from taking the time to evaluate their ROI on trade show marketing.
“What gets measured gets managed.” — Management Consultant Peter Drucker
Although trade shows may not have the direct and measurable attribution that are possible with digital marketing efforts, it's possible to get more value from trade shows. How do you answer the trade show and sales connection question?
Set metrics and clear marketing goals.
Before leaving for the trade show, set clear, quantifiable goals that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” For instance, you might set a target number of qualified leads generated at the show and leads converted to customers (whether they are large, moderate or small opportunity).
Trade shows can elicit non-monetary key performance indicators as well. For instance, did the sales team schedule X number of meetings or did the new product or service get X mentions in the press?
Treat every business card as a possible lead, advocate, job applicant or fan.
Trade shows are about making connections. Not all contacts at a trade show will be sales leads. Avoid losing business cards in internal suit pockets or forgetting them forever at the bottom of a purse.
Make sure that every contact made at the event is loaded into the customer relationship management (CRM) tool and appropriately categorized (sales lead, job applicant, advocate/fan, potential partner, potential supplier, etc). Tag these database entries with the trade show as a referrer or source (offline: trade show) and track which sale leads convert into sales opportunities. As contacts are entered into the CRM, ensure that you take notes on where you met the lead and details about your conversation. Include relevant personal details that you remember as well, in order to make future conversations more meaningful.
Increase the sales leads and ROI gained from trade shows, but understand that these prospects must be nurtured.
Define a clear value proposition.
Go into the trade show having determined in advance what the brand is offering, why that offer is relevant, and how the company will deliver on that promise. Make these points clear throughout all marketing and sales efforts related to the show. A lack of value proposition can cripple lead generation efforts.
Create quality, relevant content.
A pretty booth and branded mousepads are par for the course at trade shows. A business can better stand out by having subject experts on hand and well-designed educational content to meet with booth visitors and by offering quality, relevant content. Sure, fun, quirky gimmicks help draw people to your booth or table. Consider using digital displays and iPads within interactive demos or content to help prospects better understand how your company is useful to them.
Social engagement is an accepted norm at trade shows. Connect with prospects and other trade show goers through social media. Plan to share useful content and comments before, during and after the trade show. Be helpful; not a pest.
Turn leads into customers.
Use lead nurturing after trade shows to convert contacts. A follow-up email might offer a piece of premium and extremely valuable content — such as a specific e-book, white paper, or video. Leverage lead scoring and marketing automation to qualify leads and insure that the sales team is getting the best quality leads to follow up on from the event.
Related reading: Where to Get B2B Sales Leads
Display Wizard (n.d.). Survey finds nearly 50% of trade show exhibitors don’t measure ROI. https://www.displaywizard.co.uk/exhibition-roi-survey/
Hand, T. (2016, April 5). Trade Show ROI Calculator: Increase Exhibition Success. https://blog.aceexhibits.com/trade-show-roi-calculator
Symonds, P. (2015, March 31). How to Track Your Tradeshow ROI. https://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2015/27371/how-to-track-your-tradeshow-roi
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