Tradeshows have a played a role in the B2B sales and marketing process for decades. Many companies today still include tradeshows as a large part of their marketing strategy … and their annual budget.
The budget for an exhibit at an industry show is often significant; costs vary drastically from small exhibits to large, but regardless of the show or booth size, the amount of money of spent can add up quickly. And it’s not always clear when the event provides opportunities greater than the cost.
Regardless of your tradeshow budget, we want to share how to get the very most out of each dollar you spend. With the assumption that you’re investing in all it takes to be physically present at a tradeshow, there are three ways to ensure you get the best return on that investment.
1. Execute a Pre-Event Marketing Plan
When you’ve decided to attend a tradeshow or industry event, marketing for that event should kick off well before the conference hall carpet is rolled out.
In advance of the conference, meet with your sales team to set measurable conference goals. Whether its number of booth visitors, qualified leads, pre-scheduled meetings, or a number of demos, set goals and hold your team accountable. The conference calendar should be packed with demonstrations and meetings long before you ever step into the tradeshow hall.
While the sales team is setting meetings, marketing should focus on a strong pre-event campaign strategy. Develop a cadence of “touches” via digital marketing platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter and email. Share you’re going to the event, what you’re offering while there, when to visit your booth, and when to attend your presentations.
But it can’t be all about you. As the event nears, expand your digital strategy to not only include exhibit-specific calls to action, but also content relevant to the theme of the conference. Write a blog post about an industry hot topic or share a video related to the conference keynote. Establish yourself as not just an attendee, but as a driver of and contributor to the conversations that will happen at the show.
2. Host Your Own Event
While it can be difficult to compete with hospitality events thrown by major players in the space, hosting your own event allows you to narrow down the conference attendees to those most relevant to you. And, it gives you the opportunity to get to know them in a more intimate setting than your booth.
With budget always at top of mind, the event doesn’t need to be expensive or large. Invite your prospects to a lunch break kickball game on the conference center’s lawn, or host a pop-up style roundtable at the hotel bar to discuss a compelling conference topic. Thoughtful, well-planned small gatherings can be just as (if not more) effective than the all-you-can-drink extravaganza with the loud, not-very-good band.
3. It’s Over! Now What?
Follow Up. Follow Up. Follow Up.
Remember those goals we set before the conference? Now its time to pull them out and see how we did.
- Evaluate each and every meeting and lead.
- Assign prospects to your sales team with clear deadlines for follow up.
- Follow through on any promises made to send collateral to inquirers.
But it’s not just the sales team who needs a post-show strategy. The marketing team has enormous opportunity to keep the buzz of the conference going in its digital marketing plan.
- Send a post-conference email and thank you within a week of the show – the more personalized and genuine the content, the better.
- Write up an assessment of the conference for your corporate blog or to post on LinkedIn.
- Compile and share pictures of your team in action, and post copies of your presentations on your website for those who missed the show to review.
By implementing a strong pre- and post-show strategy, and making the most of your time there with pre-scheduled meetings and a private event, you’ll see a much greater return on your tradeshow spend.
Not sure where to get started? Contact us and we’ll create a custom event plan for you.