Dos and Don'ts for Improving Trade Show ROI
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- Attract the right prospects. Your offer should appeal specifically to your target prospects and provide something they can use, versus general contests or giveaways. Traffic will be lighter but you will get higher interest.
- Focus on helping. Figure out the problem you can solve for customers and promote it. Answers are more compelling than attractive booth staffers . . . to the right prospects! Overall, your approach to trade shows should be to provide valuable information.
- Publish a white paper. Serious buyers are going to want this material and this is one way to weed them out. People collecting tchotchkes aren’t going to bother taking, let alone carrying around your literature.
- Be timely. If there is something going on in the community, the industry or the world on which you can capitalize, then do so and your prospects will understand the relevance. We target cable TV and local media. Today, there are newer ways of viewing on demand on computers and mobile devices, which is reducing overall numbers of subscriptions. We can replace declining revenues by enabling providers to offer innovative digital advertising solutions across a variety of media channels.
- Have quality conversations. Prepare a set of engaging questions for all booth personnel that will help you in your business. For example, Affinity Express might ask newspaper publishers, “what other digital designs are your advertisers requesting?” or “What are the pain points for salespeople selling digital advertising and marketing services?” The answers start positive dialogs and the input feeds into our product development, marketing and sales teams. At the same time, when you ask questions like these, you get prospects excited about your offering and prequalify them for sales.
- Survey attendees. A more formalized approach that yields lots of good data is to conduct brief marketing surveys with visitors which can be released at future events or an incentive to provide email addresses so you can send results after shows. You can offer incentives or giveaways for participation but only include those people who fit the criteria of your target market.
- Conduct research. When you understand what is important to clients, you can conduct proprietary in-depth research on subjects and establish yourself as a trusted resource. When you solve problems, you are more likely to win or keep customers’ business over time.
- Get feedback from the booth staff. Creative Training Solutions suggests some questions you might ask to evaluate a show:
- What was the most valuable part of the show? Why?
- What was the least valuable part of the show? Why?
- Were the pre-show promotions effective? Why?
- Was the location good? Why?
- Were there enough (or too many) people in the booth? Why
- Was the size of the booth appropriate? Why?
- Was the literature satisfactory? Why
- Where the right products on display? Why?
- Did the signage convey the right message?
- What should we do again? Why?
- What didn’t work? Why?
- How could we make it better?
- Follow-up and measure campaign effectiveness. One way to increase ROI is by sending trade show leads approximately four nurturing emails over the course of a couple of months. Measure the email click through rate (CTR) of each and the rate at which email “clickers” convert to qualified sales leads. After the first few events, you’ll have the basis to understand response rates and good CTRs for your emails. Expect a high CTR on the first email and a steep drop on the second, before you finally end in a long-tail click through rate. According to GoodData blog, you might expect to see CTRs like these:
- Email 1—25%
- Email 2—10%
- Email 3—5%
- Email 4—3%
- Measure ROI on other objectives. Depending on your business, you might get additional benefits that affect ROI:
- Putting your executives together with several customers in a short period of time at savings over travel to individual meetings.
- Accelerating the buying process and moving customers through several stages of the process; saving time and money.
- Demonstrating products for many people at the same time or which cannot cost-effectively or easily be demoed in the field (meaning savings can be calculated in the ROI).
Your goal with trade shows is to go beyond driving traffic to attract visitors that are viable prospects. The more you can do to prequalify, contact and reintroduce your company and solution, and open the door for sales, the better. Not every small business marketer has the bandwidth for this kind of hands-on activity. Regardless, it is critical that you track and record ROI to support decisions and enable you to plan for the future.