The Show’s Over, Now What?

As an exhibitor there are no shortage of trade shows for you to pick from. So once you set up an exhibit schedule, how do you keep from second-guessing yourself? How do you know if the trade shows you are attending are the best ones for your company? And once the show is over, how do you know if it was a success or not?

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that we encourage exhibitors to create a nine-step exhibit strategy that will help you narrow down the options, prioritize and organize your trade show calendar. But even after all the planning, you still need go back to measure and compare final results to your original expectations. In this blog post and in several upcoming posts, we will consider four post-show evaluation criteria to continuously refine and improve your trade show marketing results.

Measuring the Trade Show ROI

There are many ways to calculate the ROI of a trade show. Some are hard measures while others are more subjective. What were your strategic goals and objectives in attending this show? Where those goals met? How many leads did the show generate? What was the quality of those leads? Did you meet your sales goals? What was the average value of those sales? What is the estimated revenue that will generated from this trade show?

However calculating trade show ROI doesn’t stop with sales. What impact did exhibiting at this trade show have on your brand? How many branding impressions were generated? How many people in total visited your booth? How many attendees were exposed to your company and its message, even if they didn’t come to the booth? Of all the people who were exposed to your brand, what percentage of them fit your target profile? What is the value of that exposure? How much would it have cost to generate the same exposure using traditional marketing channels such as print advertising or TV commercials? How does the engagement generated through exhibiting compare to the typical level of engagement you have in other marketing channels? What is the value of that engagements? In other words, what would it have cost to generate the same level of engagement in other channels?

Were you a show sponsor? Did you use pre-show marketing? If you sent out direct mail or digital messages that invited attendees to attend your booth in exchange for a special offer or gift, how much response did that marketing generate? What was the quality of that booth traffic? Did you promote your booth on social or other marketing channels during the show? What was the impact and effectiveness of those efforts? Of the different promotions and marketing channels you used, which was the most effective? What implications do these findings have for future marketing efforts?

What was the level of press coverage at the show? Did your company receive any mentions or have interaction with the press? What is the value of that publicity? Your marketing or public relations department should be able to give you some benchmark guidelines for these calculations.

Not all of these calculations are possible for every trade show or every exhibitor. Nor is it necessary for you to measure every variable in order to determine if this particular trade show or event should remain on your calendar or not. The key is to determine in advance what metrics are most appropriate for your company and your needs. The more measurements you have, the stronger your business case will be to continue attending this trade show in the future or whether you need to research alternatives.

If you would like help with any element of your trade show strategy, our experienced team would be happy to provide you with a free, custom consultation. Contact us today.

How to Create a Follow-up Plan That Gets Results

Follow up is essential to meeting your original trade show objectives and time is of the essence. Your lead is very likely to have visited with one or more of your competitors. According to some industry estimates by the time exhibitors do post-show lead-fulfillment, 43% of prospects have already made a purchase. Any delay in following up may cost you a sale.

The key to follow up begins even before your exhibit opens. Decide ahead of time how you will follow up with different types of leads. For example, you might place your less qualified leads in a lead nurturing campaign, while your hottest leads are handled immediately by sales. Create your lead nurturing campaign before you leave for the show.

The follow up campaign should be integrated into your overall exhibit strategy and integrate with your booth message. Our typical follow-up campaigns consist of email, social and phone follow-up.  The type of follow up, frequency and duration will depend on the quality of the lead.

Prepare your new contacts for future follow up while you are still at the show. You could say something as simple as “I really enjoyed our conversation. There is an article (or other piece of content) that I think will be helpful to you. Look for it in your inbox.” If possible, email the information that same day. At the latest, send it out as soon as you return to the office.

As you are collecting contact information at the show, ask people if they are on Twitter, LinkedIn or whatever social accounts you use for business. Ideally, while still at the show, send them a personalized invitation to connect with a reminder of where and how you met. Once you are connected, be sure to share content with them and promote their content to your followers.

High quality leads who are ready to buy should be turned over immediately to the sales team. Ideally a member of the sales team was at the show and could take an order on-site. Otherwise, a sales call should be set for the prospect’s first availability.

If you exhibit at several different trade shows, keep track of which show is generating the most leads and the most sales. You will likely find that although some shows generate a lot of leads, they may be low quality leads that don’t convert to sales while others shows are real money-makers. This data will help you decide where to concentrate your efforts and where you can safely afford to cut back. If a particular show is consistently delivering results, you may want to consider increasing your investment there, perhaps using a larger booth in order to bring more staff, buying a more prominent location or considering sponsorship.

Would you like to improve the effectiveness of your trade show marketing? Contact us today for a free consultation. 

9 Tips to Maximize Booth Sales

At Disneyland, they call all their employees “cast members,” because they’re all part of the “show” that’s taking place everywhere in the park, all the time. Trade show exhibitors and your booth staffers are putting on a show, too. How can you be more effective?

American Image Displays created a list of do’s and don’ts for booth staffers. Be sure to review them with your booth staff before your next event.

Exhibits Are Not Just About What’s New

By David McMillin, Staff Writer
Professional Convention Management Association

Despite some struggles to increase attendance across the industry, the latest report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research reveals that your attendees and your exhibitors still want to come together face-to-face. However, buyers and sellers also need a compelling reason to invest in show participation, and those personal encounters rely on one crucial component: the future.

“Trade shows should always be about what’s happening in the next 12 months and preparing attendees for the next year,” Mary Pat Heftman, executive vice president, convention at National Restaurant Association, says.

“As show organizers, we are really in business with the attendee,” Heftman adds. “You have to make the promise to your attendees about the value that they’ll receive by participating.”

Participants at the PCMA Exhibits Manager Think Tank, held on August 29th in Chicago, debated how to make good on that promise. Whether you host a trade show or you have an exhibit hall at your annual educational meeting, here are three recommendations to demonstrate value while creating more opportunities for your exhibitors.

1) Before the Show: New Product Previews

Arm your meeting marketing materials with a spotlight of the never-before-seen products and services that will be on your show floor.

As attendees receive your communications, you’ll help foster a feeling that they can’t afford to miss these products. Add a dedicated area on your website that includes images, profiles of product debuts and interviews with exhibiting companies about why their product is revolutionary. Use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts to draw even more attention to these tools.

Across all of your messaging, be sure to educate your prospective attendees that your show is the place to turn to navigate their changing needs. Your exhibitors will appreciate the additional online presence and brand awareness, too.

2) During the Show: Exhibits in Action

Of course, your attendees want to do more than see – - they want to experience these new tools and technologies to understand how they may benefit their organizations.

While some of your exhibitors may already be conducting product demonstrations, analyze your exhibit floor to determine how to create more opportunities for your attendees to actually use these products. Transform your exhibit hall from a “first-hand viewing” to “hands-on doing” area. At the 2012 NRA Convention, Heftman invited big-name culinary experts such as Rick Bayless and Mike Isabella to the show for live learning demonstrations.

Outside of what’s directly in front of attendees, consider the digital space. If you’re working on a mobile app for your convention, be creative about brainstorming ways to continue that product interaction after they leave the hall. Can attendees scan a bar code or QR code to unlock another capability from a product? Can they easily download product specs or pricing information rather than carry another handout?

3) After the Show: Innovation Awards

To continue the conversation about those product debuts and extend the life of your show, consider highlighting the most forward-thinking products with some type of innovation award.

Invite experts to vote for category winners, and announce the recipients in your post-meeting marketing. You’ll help distinguish certain companies and encourage non-award winners to enter their emerging products in next year’s competition. You may even create additional leads for your exhibitors by inspiring non-attendees to learn more about these products.

Looking for more useful advice for your next show? Learn how to adjust your exhibitors’ expectations in more coverage from the Exhibits Manager Think Tank.

Are You Turning Off Your Attendees with Telemarketing?

October 01, 2012

By David McMillin, Staff Writer
Professional Convention Management Association

As meeting marketers work to pique the interest of prospective attendees, many organizations are using an approach that includes every channel possible. From direct mail to email marketing to social media, audience prospects receive messages everywhere they turn.

However, there is one route to your audience that you may want to avoid: automated telemarketing. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers are more frustrated than ever with this promotional ploy. In late 2010, the FTC logged around 65,000 robo-call complaints. Earlier this year, those complaints soared to 212,000.

If robo-calls are still part of your meeting marketing plan, here are three key areas to consider.

Attendees vs. Consumers

While educating prospects about the potential benefits of your meeting may seem different than traditional telemarketing, you must be sensitive to protecting your brand. If you know your audiences are annoyed by robo-calls from credit card services, a similar style of message about an upcoming meeting may damage your organization’s credibility.

“Meeting marketing requires elevating your prospect audience to a position above that of a traditional everyday consumer,” Carolyn Clark, vice president, marketing and communications, PCMA, says. “They need to feel that they will receive customized benefits if they attend your meeting, and that feeling starts well before they arrive on-site.”

Conversations vs. One-Sided Sales Pitches

Reaching all of your prospects can seem overwhelming. As some meeting marketers look at databases with tens of thousands of contact numbers, connecting with all of them individually may seem impossible, but that doesn’t mean that a generic message will produce the desired results.

“Rather than leaving the same broadcast message for thousands of prospective attendees, meeting marketers should consider dedicating resources to a live phone campaign for select segments,” Clark says. “First, make sure to focus on your most loyal attendees. Show them you appreciate all their past support with a concierge-style approach to communications.”

That approach is all about having a meaningful conversation. From expressing your gratitude to offering help with planning their travel, a live phone campaign will make them feel exactly how they want to: special.

Outside of your die-hard loyalists, who represents the future of your organization? Are you aiming to increase retention from last year’s first-time attendees? What can you do to engage new members who have never attended? Based on past survey results, does a certain portion of your audience seem particularly at-risk?

Create talking points for your staff to answer key questions that these audience members may ask. Your live phone campaign is a unique opportunity to deliver answers and personalized benefits.

Meeting Marketing vs. Association Member Marketing

Your annual meeting may be your biggest source of revenue, but it’s important to remember the 365-day relationship you have with your members. You still need to work to maintain loyalties from those who choose not to attend your big gathering, and that reality should play a big role in determining how to deliver your messages.

“It’s tempting to have an anything-goes mentality when it comes to increasing your registration numbers,” Clark says. “However, you must recognize that the meeting is only one piece of an organization’s annual plan for success.”

Is There a Right Time for Robo-calls?

Despite the potential issues that can arise from robo-calls, the marketing technique can still work. It all depends on who’s talking.

“If you have a voice that your prospects will immediately recognize at the beginning of a message, that automated call can capture their attention,” Clark says.

Whether it’s your CEO or a celebrity who supports your organization, you’ll need to arm that voice with a simple and succinct script.

“The key is brevity,” Clark adds. “Keep it concise, and make sure those first few words are enough to keep them listening for the next 25 seconds.”

If you are searching for ways to update your meeting marketing strategy, be sure to read our tips on social media and email personalization.