Do you just love expos or are you one of those who hate ‘em with a passion? Done right, exhibiting at an expo can set your firm up with new business for the whole year to come.
After the event ask a sample of exhibitors whether or not it was a success for them. You’ll get answers ranging from “Raging! This lot will set us up for the year!” to “Total crap. We’re never coming back. Probably.”
What’s the difference? It’s not money. It’s not the products. It’s planning.
Chances are the owners of the successful stands sat down some months before the event and decided... Well, first we have to assume that they’d already decided for some reason to attend the event, so it’s clearly an integral part of their marketing plan (do I hear some guffaws out there?)
The why, then the who and then the what.
So they sat down and first decided what they wanted to achieve from the event (their objective), then, what sort of people they wanted to attract to their stands (their target audience), and finally, what outcome they wanted from their interactions.
And then they built a plan which delivered on those things.
Is this enough? No. Post-event follow up is easily as important as the event itself. Like the lead up to your first-born (aka pregnancy) it’s easy to think that the big event is the birth. Anyone with one or more kids knows better.
Follow up for real ROI.
Of course event follow-up is where things so often fall apart. While it’s perfectly natural for everyone to put their energy into creating a knock-em-dead stand, sadly all their efforts will come to nought if no-one’s tasked with making sure all the leads are followed up diligently.
Rate and prioritise leads
If “acquiring leads” is built into your objective you might do well to develop a “quality” rating system for those leads. At one event we classed anyone who expressed clear interest or attended our seminar as being grade one (we offered a bottle of bubbly as a door prize in return for business cards), anyone who came to our stand and simply entered the draw (for a Playstation, I think) was classed grade two (many will have been completing the form only to get the Playstation but at least they stopped and answered some questions about the product) and the rest of the attendees (with whom we had no direct contact) were classed grade three. After the event we prioritised all the contacts and made sure we contacted the grade ones as soon as possible, followed by the grade twos. We filtered the grade threes according to their job position and company, and followed up with them as well.