Event marketing is still a popular and effective way to engage people. To find a chance to chat with customers and partners, plus draw in new prospects, a well run event (be it your own or at a third party trade show or exhibition) can deliver strong return on investment (ROI) still. Here is some advice from us on how you maximize the opportunity at your next trade show.
The hard work starts long before the first morning.
Although the focus will be on your stand, the staff turning up and turning out in the right polo shirts, don’t forget the other important areas. If you have existing customers likely to attend, reach out and tell them you will be there and offer them a reason to stop by – freebies, exclusive offers or premium content, anything to help get some friendly faces there. Try also to do the same with prospects – use the plethora of free online and social media research tools to try and track down prospects on the web and promote or signpost the event well in advance. Making your stand busy with a mix of prospects and customers will help keep drawing in others who see the buzz.
Make it easy to find you.
Although the event organisers will publish a floorplan, it can still be hard to navigate the halls for many visitors. So why not help them find you on the day. Send out your stand number, possibly even a map or rough route to you, anything that helps make it easier to spot you. You may be lucky enough to have a stand that is high enough for them to see your logo, but don’t rely on this alone. Don’t also assume they will stop by “just because”. Most visitors to events have already planned out their must-see stands before they arrive. This is why pre-event marketing is so important. Try and add an incentive too – think about what you can offer by way of freebie, incentive or must-see content on the day that will encourage more of them to seek you out.
Stand out from the crowd.
If you are new to event marketing, the temptation is to often benchmark the competitors. By mirroring what they do or offer, you have a proven route to …ensure you look just like the rest of them! Be brave and think hard about what you want to say and how you can say it in a different way to the rest. Remember that most shows will have your competitors there too, so avoid the risk of same-same and look to tell your story in a unique and memorable way.
Be timely and relevant after the event.
Once you have attracted visitors to the stand (and hopefully given them a good reason to give you their information – be that via stand badge scanner or from them registering their details for further information or even on an on-stand sale) make sure you take the lead on this newly formed relationship.
Too often businesses take weeks ate the event (if at all!) before sending out any follow up communication. Try and do the pre-event to have ready a series of emails to go out to those you meet at the show. Although you may not close the business that same week, you should try and follow up in a timely fashion that means they don’t forget about you and your offering. end them your own event highlights, the key talking points or suggestions on what you found most useful – a helpful and non-direct way to legitimately follow up.
Recognise the payback stage has only just begun.
The final day of the event, the stand is down and the last piece of swag has been handed out. Time to toast success and relax? Not in the slightest. At this point your event is simply a cost. Now the work begins, to turn those leads and opportunities into sales and revenue. Ensure that the whole team see an event as a programme or campaign that starts months before and ends months after the actual day(s) of the event itself. Before the event ensure you have agreed a lead handover process, defined what a lead is to your sales team (so they can focus on quality not quantity of follow up) and set targets for conversion. This should help ensure you turn your event and overall campaign into a positive return rather than just the cost.
Ensure sales and marketing are aligned.
To aid that last point around the quality vs quantity argument when it comes to leads, work on a clearly defined process early on. Sales and marketing should work together and agree what constitutes a lead – you may start with a simple threshold such as BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timescale) but for some businesses this will be too simplistic, for others too complex. Ensure that there is a target for leads generated and then an agreement from sales for how long before they follow up and an expected sales close rate. This will give a unity between these often divided departments and see everybody pushing for the same – the highest quality of leads to convert to as many high value customers as possible. These metrics will help prove your event a success and also give you justification for repeating the exercise again and again at future shows.
At Junction we work on marketing programmes for an array of different clients and live-events are still a key part of your overall marketing mix. We have run events for lead generation and brand building/awareness, even winning an award or two along the way for it.
We were recently asked to speak again at the AEO Masterclass at the NEC – a whole day of best-practice advice on event marketing for all sorts of different industries. Our keynote on the day was voted one of the highlights. If you missed it, then have a look at the highlights reel now.
Want to talk to us about events for your business? Just drop us a line and we can share stories and ideas.