While the number of trade shows and industry conferences has decreased in the last 15 years, they are still an important marketing event for many B2B companies. To get the biggest benefit, you have to plan for the event and follow up to continue the conversation.
Here are a few tips:
- Identify and exhibit at trade shows or conferences that will be attended by both users and decision makers.
- Consider speaking at one of the breakout sessions about a subject related to the industry and your product, or doing a presentation at our booth. This should be an information and education session that will help demonstrate your expertise to new prospects.
- Run pre-show e-mail campaigns to let attendees know about your product and your booth number. Include a call to action (CTA) with a link back to a specific landing page on your website. Also, include a registration discount code (these can be purchased from the event organizer) as an incentive for customers and prospects to attend the show.
- Announce your attendance at the event on the Home page of your website and include a link to the discount registration.
- Collect visitor leads at the show and use them for a post-show email campaign, thanking attendees for visiting your booth, reminding them about the product and its benefits. Again, include a CTA with a link back to the product landing page to keep the lead active.
- Issue a press release prior to the show about your product(s) in conjunction with your attendance at the trade show/conference.
- Schedule meetings ahead of time with the press (for PR) and potential buyers at the show.
- If it’s a conference, attend the breakout sessions to stay current with the latest trends, strategies, and technology.
- If you have the budget for it, work with the event organizer and use some of the promotional opportunities at the show.
- If your company is active on social media, announce your attendance at the show and promote the discount registration several times leading up to the event. Issue follow-up posts/tweets afterwards with comments about the event.
- Consider sponsoring status updates, posts, and tweets to increase the reach of your promotion to new and targeted audiences (these can be very cost effective).
- Measure the quantity and quality of the leads you got from attending the show. Include all lead sources to identify what’s working for you. Use Google Analytics, or other tools, to measure the success of your email campaigns, social media outreach, and any website conversions.
- To measure total ROI, use your marketing automation or CRM software, or even a spreadsheet, to track the cost of the leads against the revenue received, and to identify which leads and lead sources eventually resulted in a sale.
Successful trade shows are rare if you only attend the event and don’t plan for it properly. It starts with selecting the right show for you products, actively promoting your attendance at the show, planning to meet with customers and the press to ensure you’ll get their attention, and following up after the event to make sure the leads don’t stagnate. The final, and very critical, piece is measuring the resulting sales to decide if it was worth the investment.