Guest Post by Wayne Crawford, Vice President of Sales at a2z.
Event producers rely on providing unique face-to-face marketing/connection opportunities to their exhibitors. Exhibitors are typically their primary source of revenue and are looking for not only solid ROI, but ways in which to measure and improve it. Certainly there are exceptions, but overall as an industry, we are not very good at educating exhibitors on how to get maximum ROI out of events.
Here’s a bit of advice: exhibit and do it right. Most event producers participate as an exhibitor in one or more events each year. And most event producers treat this process as an afterthought, as do many of their own exhibitors.
At a2z, once we really took our participation at industry events (e.g. Expo! Expo!) more seriously and focused more on ROI, we became better at advising our clients on using our products to increase ROI. (More advice for event producers: become better at advising your exhibitors on how to maximize their ROI at your events.)
By focusing on these basic principles as exhibitors, we increased our ROI by nearly 50% over a three-year period:
SET LOFTY, QUANTIFIABLE GOALS
Brand recognition is not a quantifiable goal. While it may be a primary objective, you cannot measure it. We set specific goals for number of leads, number of post-show opportunities created in our CRM system and deals closed by dollar volume within a specific time period. Collecting information to supplement your email marketing is another metric that can be measured. Make sure everyone on your team understands the metrics, how they will be measured and why they are important.
DON’T JUST EXHIBIT
By all means, have a visually appealing booth that is audience friendly and inviting. However, don’t just have a booth. Take advantage of on-floor speaking opportunities, unique sponsorships, scavenger hunts, photo booths, etc.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY
Use all available technology provided by the organizer. Complete your online profile early. Fill it with everything allowable, including a robust description, products, press releases, show specials and videos. If a matchmaking/networking tool is provided, take full advantage of it and fill your dance card with coveted prospects. Learn about the lead retrieval tools available and select and customize a tool that will allow you to append scans with attendee interest and follow-up time frame. Use an event management system that can easily interface with your CRM system.
DO THE ADVANCE WORK
If possible, get a copy of the pre-registration list. Segment the list and have individual outreach done by your sales people. If the pre-registration list is not available to you, use your own contact database to reach out to the individuals that fit the right demographic/geographic mix. Give them a reason to stop by!
This is hard work and requires real discipline! No sitting, eating, or chatting amongst staff, etc. Engage people who walk by your booth with an open-ended verbal engagement. Above all, exude energy and have fun with it!
DO THE FOLLOW-UP
Studies have always shown that the vast majority of leads collected at any event never receive any follow-up. This is the most amazing phenomenon ever! Needless to say, follow-up is important. Grab their attention by following up with a personalized email within 24 hours specifying the next step. It’s hard work, but it’s effective. Most likely, your competitors won’t be doing it.
A quick recap at the end of each day is helpful to determine if adjustments to your on-site approach or strategy need to be implemented. If generated revenue is one of your metrics, share the ongoing progress with the team for weeks or months after the event to keep the momentum going.
If you have any suggestions on how to get maximum ROI from exhibiting at an event, please share in comment section.