What’s the value in attending a tradeshow? Most tradeshows keep a list on their website with reasons to justify the investment of a booth at their event. Connections, hot leads, an exchange of knowledge top these lists, but are you getting the most out of them? When the show ends and you’re back in the office and need to report on the show, how can you be sure you got the most of the experience? Proving tradeshow ROI can be challenging, especially in long-lead industries like group travel and motorcoach tourism. We’ve found the best value comes from thorough prep, consistent outreach, a strong presence at the show and timely follow-up.
Research Before the Show
Know who’s going to be there. Are new operators attending you’ve never interacted with before? Are they the same list of people you’ve seen at the last three shows? Or is there a good mix of the two – new connections to make and existing relationships to nurture?
Make a list of targets you want to meet with in both cases. This sets you up for success in proving attendance ROI. You’ll be able to include your target number of meetings and interactions, and report on your success.
Reach Out Before the Show
Now that you know who is attending, and a target interaction list, you can do some selected outreach before the show. Prior contact is especially necessary in cases where tradeshows have appointments chosen by the seller and the buyer. You have a much higher chance of landing the appointments you want if the request is mutual. However, it’s still useful at shows without appointments, as outreach gives you a foot-in-the-door to meet with people on your target list.
Best practice says to reach out a few weeks before the tradeshow, and again a day or two before as a reminder.
Take lots and lots of notes during your meetings (make sure they’re legible). We tend to overestimate the length of our memory, and tradeshows can be especially mind-scrambling. How else do you expect to remember what you talked about with 45 different people, 2 weeks later? Technology comes in handy here, with laptops and iPads being the most efficient means of taking notes. The benefit with electronic notes is that you don’t have to worry about finding or deciphering them at a later date. Handwritten notes are still king when it comes to information retention however, and in a pinch, I always find writing on business cards to be a great way to bring a face to mind when I’m recalling their information.
Don’t rely on memory alone – take notes and set yourself up for successful follow-up.
Yes- this isn’t a groundbreaking tip. But it is oftentimes overlooked The best way to prove post-tradeshow ROI is to follow up on your leads, and nurture them. Don’t let time constraints or catching up from being out of the office get in the way of nurturing these valuable leads. All the pre-planning and great conversations in the world won’t offset falling off a hot lead’s radar due to lack of communication.
Your follow up doesn’t need to be extensive. Send a quick email saying how great it was to meet them, or see them again. Give them a quick call and see how things are going on their end. Drop a note when you’re in the neighborhood.Add them to your CRM and be sure to touch base on a regular basis. A great way to keep in touch frequently is with eNewsletters.