Marketing—now more than ever—is driven by numbers and guided by metrics. With the rise of more robust, in-depth analytics, items once thought to be incalculable can now be traced and measured with striking accuracy. As a result, marketers are increasingly asked to step up to the plate to prove return on investment. CEOs, CMOs and CFOs are asking their marketing teams to justify the impact on the balance sheet with measurable results and reasonable returns on investment.
Trade shows and face-to-face marketing events can be the secret play for achieving sales and marketing goals and creating strong ROI. They are the marketing vehicles that combine direct sales, lead generation, company exposure, media relations, press coverage and product demonstrations all in one. This guide will help you score big by providing you with concise and actionable tips and tactics for your next trade show or event
Determine Your Goals & Objectives
Improving your event marketing performance doesn’t begin at the event or trade show, it begins when you outline concrete goals of achievement and target ROI. To effectively plan your event goals and objectives, you will need to understand the big picture marketing and sales strategy of your organization. Begin by asking what your organization hopes to achieve through event marketing. Identifying the high-level objectives of your organization will help you create realistic and on-target event marketing goals, better preparing you for maximizing your ROI.
Pick the Right Trade Show or Event
Picking the right trade show for your organization can mean the difference between a healthy trade show ROI or a lackluster experience. Before selecting an event, you need to identify the attributes of your target audience and ideal prospect/customer to give you an idea of which events are worth participating in.
After identifying the makeup of your target audience, it is highly recommended to attend the event and walk the show before contracting space. See for yourself the type of engagement and competitors participating already. Compile a list of trade shows you feel align well with your company’s marketing goals and objectives and begin quantifying the value of each show in terms or ROI potential. Start the process of quantifying the event ROI potential by securing the Exhibitor Prospectus provided by the event organizers. The Prospectus contains valuable information on attendee profiles. This information includes job titles, industry segmentation and geographic distribution of attendees. It will help you align attendee profiles with the attributes of your target audience.
Add up the number of attendees that align with your ideal prospect attributes to determine the number of ideal attendees you can expect to possibly visit your booth.
Divide the number of ideal prospects by the total number of event attendees, and multiply this value by your average lead value to determine the potential benefit score for the event.
Once you have scored each trade show ROI potential, narrow down your event list to the top scoring shows and select the ones that fit best into your event marketing budget and timeline. Remember, even if an event scores well, if the cost of exhibiting exceeds your budget, or you do not have enough time to properly plan for exhibiting, the value of the event is greatly diminished.
Scoring events is helpful in narrowing down which are most likely to yield strong returns. However, there are other important criteria to consider when selecting a trade show. Below is a list of other criteria on which to base your decision:
Invest in Pre-Event Marketing
Generating a strong ROI begins with knowing your expenses, having and outlined budget and a good understanding of a cost per lead analysis. Outline and project your event expenses as accurately as possible for common trade show expenses such as exhibiting space, show services, travel and collateral. Overspending or underestimating cost will throw off your trade show ROI.
Digital marketing is an invaluable part of the marketing mix. Targeted email blasts, social media engagement and event marketing landing pages are all low-cost-high-return mediums from which you can generate pre-event buzz and attract the attention of attendees prior to the show.
Your sales staff engages with prospects on a daily basis, whether face-to-face, over the phone or through email. Capitalize on their client relationships by having sales staff set appointments with prospects and clients to meet with booth staff at the event. Oftentimes, you can even secure a list of registered event attendees from event organizers, giving your sales team a starting point for prospecting. Send reminders before the event to confirm appointments.
In the weeks leading up to your event, make sure that your booth staffers are trained extensively for in-booth etiquette, product knowledge, and the objectives and goals of your organization. A well-trained booth staff team can have a dramatic impact on your lead yield and performance on the trade show floor. Teams simply standing and waiting for people to visit the booth are not helping your ROI!
Prior to the trade show, invite high-value prospects and clients to after hours dinner and cocktail events to establish better relationships and foster business opportunities. Sales representatives can have more intimate conversations with prospects and clients, without the distractions that can occur on the trade show floor.
With other aspects of pre-event preparation such as trade show booth sourcing or design, travel planning and logistics, pre-event marketing sometimes takes a backseat. In order to be successful at your next trade show, you need to drive qualified traffic to your booth. Getting on your prospects’ agendas in advance will give you a distinct advantage against your competition. Purchasers and decision makers may not always be able to attend a trade show. They instead rely on third-party sources to decide which products and services to purchase; mainly turning to industry media outlets for credible and reliable information. If you are able to successfully court the media, you can reach these non-attendees, and in turn increase your trade show marketing ROI. A strong public relations plan can pay huge dividends.
Below is a list of tactics and approaches to consider when planning for media engagements:
Validate Your Investment
As a marketer, you have returned to the office from your event, there is still work to be done in validating your ROI. You must analyze the results of your trade show plays and determine if the costs were worth the return.
Aggregate all of your trade show achievements and assign a dollar value wherever possible. You may even have “short term” and “long term” return on your investment depending on your sales cycle.
Types of achievements include:
Thanks to advanced technology and sophisticated measuring tools, marketers can better measure and evaluate the results of their trade show marketing efforts. Event marketing offers high rewards, but often come with high price tags. By implementing the strategies and tactics outlined in this guide, you will not only maximize your ROI, you will be better able to deliver successful and meaningful trade show marketing campaigns.