Increase Your Trade Show ROI
Whether you are hosting a booth or simply attending, participating in industry trade shows and events is a large investment of time and resources.
In order to make the most of your attendance and increase your trade show ROI, there are several proven methods to increase your chances of making solid connections and generating new business.
Most professionals do well in the moment, enjoying the engaging atmosphere and energy of the event itself. But don’t forget that your presence at the event is only a small piece of the puzzle.
Focusing on the following elements of preparation, presence, and follow-up will help you achieve a much better overall return on your investment.
Put Meetings on Your Calendar
If you want to connect with prospects and have the chance to uncover real, qualified opportunities, it’s essential to make calls in advance and put meetings on your calendar.
Relying on chance to connect you with prospects, or assuming you will both find time in your day to meet, is a common mistake and rarely works well.
Dedicated calling in advance of a show will ensure you get valuable face-to-face time with the prospects you have already identified. Additionally, calls made in advance by a skilled team will put your name up-front with prospects and increase awareness of your brand.
Devoting your resources to pre-show work as important as your attendance —if not more so—and if you don’t have the bandwidth to handle that work yourself, it can be beneficial, and cost-effective, to outsource it.
Know The Industry
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: know the industry. In order to build trust among prospects, it’s important that you know their industry inside and out, including its unique terms, nuances, and common problems.
It’s likely that your prospects will ask intelligent, industry-focused questions and use specific terminology within the conversation. Be prepared to answer knowledgeably and converse confidently by reviewing current industry trends and dialogue ahead of time.
Know Your Client Success Stories
Beyond anticipating prospects’ challenges and understanding their unique industry positions, it’s equally important to be equipped with the names of similar companies you have helped with your service, product, or solution.
Providing applicable examples of previous client successes will help set you apart as competent, qualified, and specialized in a sea of other professionals vying for your prospects’ attention.
Know Your Prospects
In order to make the most of your trade show investment, it’s vitally important that you learn about the prospects who will be in attendance before you (and they) arrive, especially those with whom you’ve scheduled a meeting.
If you are able to anticipate what challenges they may be facing, and what differentiates them within their industry, then you have the potential to make a positive and long-lasting impression – one that extends far beyond the trade show floor.
During the Show:
Be Interested in People
While it’s important to do your research and prepare to engage with the prospects who you know ahead of time will be in attendance, it’s also important to remain open and genuinely interested in people in general—in what they do and in what interests them—whether or not it directly aligns with your business.
You never know. At some point down the line, an interest or a need might arise that seamlessly meshes with your offerings.
Ask Insightful Questions
Maintain a list of insightful, open-ended questions beyond the basics that will get your prospects speaking in more detail about their unique goals and concerns. These will come in handy when you hit that inevitable lull in conversation after making your initial introductions.
And depending on your participation at the trade show, whether you are hosting a booth or attending a meet and greet, you should prepare slightly different questions tailored to each unique scenario.
By having several questions ready ahead of time, the conversation will get started quickly and flow naturally, prompting your prospects to reveal information that can be helpful in sustaining their interest, not only in the moment but long after the trade show is over as well.
Utilize Social Media
Social media is increasingly important, and not simply in the general context of overall company branding and outreach.
Curating authentic and engaging content to share on social media channels before, during, and after a trade show drastically increases your exposure.
Sharing that your company is in attendance keeps your brand top of mind for busy prospects as they review their trade show schedules and make decisions on where to focus.
Visual content is the most engaging. Take some photos during the event and share to your company page.
Usually, the trade show will have its own branded hashtags for further digital networking. If so, be sure to include these in your post.
Connect with Current Clients
Trade shows are commonly viewed as platforms for cultivating new prospects, and while that is true, it is not the only function of a trade show.
Trade shows are wonderful avenues for connecting with your current clients—clients who are already happy with your work and trust you as an integral part of their business, but who you might not get as much face-to-face time with as you’d both like.
A trade show may be the only time during the year that you have the opportunity to make an in-person connection with your current clients, and nothing is as valuable or impactful in business as an authentic, in-person connection.
A substantial amount of your new business is likely to come from your current client base, so taking the time to converse with current customers is well worth your time.
Post-show: Comprehensive Follow-Up
There are mechanisms in place at most trade shows to collect the contact information of anyone who has shown an interest in your product, service, or solution. The resulting list is a list of warm leads. Most of the preliminary work has already been done.
Don’t waste it; be sure to follow-up with every single prospect on the list. Just as with any prospect list, calling every single solitary name and being prepared for meaningful conversations with them is the best way to cover ground and qualify leads.
In order to maintain a connection with someone who stopped by your booth or who you met at a party or presentation, you need to follow-up with them in a timely manner. The more time you allow to pass between their initial connection with your company and your subsequent follow-up with them, the less likely they are to remain engaged.
By participating in the trade show, you’ve already made an investment of your time and resources. Get the most out of your investment by following up with prospects in a timely manner.
Call and keep calling. Not every contact you make at a trade show will convert into a qualified lead, but you’ll never know if you don’t consistently follow-up. Consistent, effective follow-up works best with experienced callers, capable of engaging prospects in a meaningful interaction.
If you don’t have the experience or bandwidth to conduct timely and consistent follow-up to your list of warm leads following a successful tradeshow, then consider outsourcing to those who do.
Timely follow-up can be one of the most significant factors that will increase your trade show ROI.
It All Comes Back Around
Trade show participation is an undeniably substantial investment for any company. By executing your preparation, presence, and follow-up with intention, and adhering to the strategies we’ve mentioned here, you will be able to qualify more leads and achieve better returns in the long-run.
I look forward to connecting with current clients as well as meeting prospects and learning about new innovations in the industry. If you will also be attending and would like to connect, please contact me here.
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