Have you ever spent months designing and building your booth to showcase your incredible products and wow the trade show crowds? Perhaps you’ve devoted days to perfecting every word and graphic for your presentation at a conference. Then, despite nailing your booth or presentation, you’ve been disappointed in the results. The event did not produce the return on investment (ROI) you had anticipated. Leads trickled in and then wasted away.
It’s an all too common problem.
That’s because marketing leaders tend to pour all their energy into the most visible parts of an event: the sizzle. While doing so, they forget to do the hard work of creating a robust process for recruiting and engaging attendees and following up on leads afterward.
In this blog, I’ll give you 13 marketing tactics to boost your event ROI before, during, and after your events.
Attract Your Ideal Prospects Before the Event
For event success, you need the right people to attend. Here’s how to ensure they do.
1. Invite People!
It should go without saying that you need to invite people to an event. However, many organizers just expect visitors to arrive at their booth when the doors open or to choose their conference session from the many options during the same time slot. Send an email or direct mail invitation, allowing attendees to plan.
2. Go Beyond Email Invitations
While you should send an email—it’s inexpensive and can’t hurt—there is a risk of letting it do all the heavy lifting. In the lead-up to an event, there’s a lot of email competition and it’s all too easy for recipients to hit the delete button.
To stand out from the crowd, you should also do something personal. Use your inside sales people or a B2B telemarketing service to follow up on the phone. It’s a good way to get the attention of decision-makers. Even if you don’t reach them directly, they’ll likely listen to a voicemail message.
If you do reach a live person, you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about their interests and discuss with them how they can benefit from the event.
3. Do It Again
There’s power in numbers. While one call can make an impact, two are even better. Remember, your prospects are as busy as you are, so remind them about your seminar or to visit your booth a couple of days before the event.
4. Add Some Marketing Magic
Reach out to people indirectly as well. You can include information about the event on your website and promote it via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
5. Fill Calendars
Your salespeople and top executives’ time is valuable. You don’t want them to waste their time talking to each other in the booth or checking out the swag table of a competing company. Ensure they’ll be productive by scheduling appointments with decision-makers when you’re on the phone.
Pre-Event Planning for Post-Event Follow-Up
According to InsideSales.com, 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. Because of this, you can’t wait to determine your lead follow-up strategy until you return from the event.
6. Prepare for Data Collection
Once you get to the event, it’s too late to decide what information you need to collect about your leads. Contact details alone will not help you get ahead of your competitors.
Whatever data you decide you need, create forms that make it easy for your reps to collect it. By noting the problems people are trying to solve, you can strengthen your ability to respond rapidly with relevant information. After all, notes on the back of business cards tend to be disorganized and all too easy to lose.
7. Know Who’s First
Decide how you will prioritize your leads. How will you score them to determine which ones are hot, warm, or not worth your time? You want to get back to the hot leads first so you don’t lose the opportunity.
8. Plot Your Follow-Up Tactics
There are multiple ways you can follow up after an event: email, direct mail, social media, phone calls, and online conferences. Decide which tactics you will use before your event.
Perhaps it’s a combination of tactics that will work best for your company. It may vary based on the personal preferences of your leads. One person might respond best to a LinkedIn message. Another may prefer a phone call. It’s important to go to your prospect’s preferred channel.
Also, you may need to create content for follow-up fodder, such as ebooks, webinars, direct mail pieces, and demonstrations which will create additional touchpoints for your prospects but more work for you on the front end.
9. Make It Easy
Because you need to implement your follow-up tactics as rapidly as possible, you have to work intelligently.
That means creating a series of email templates before the event to make it easy for reps to reach out to leads. They can personalize them as necessary based on the information collected at the show. For example, you might have an email that says, “From our conversations at the show, I understand you’re struggling with (fill in the blank). You’ll be happy to learn our (fill in the blank) product can help you to….”
You’ll also want to create a series of talking points for salespeople to use in their follow-up telephone and online conversations.
At the Event
You’ve put in all of your pre-work to make your event succeed, but how can you best handle the event itself?
10. Designate Someone to Run Interference
You’re at the event to promote your business. But guess what? There are plenty of salespeople there who’d love to sell to your company too. Designate someone to intercept reps who come to your booth, ensuring that you can focus on what you’re there for.
Reap the Rewards after the Event
You’re back from the event, tired from long-days and hectic travel. Sadly, it’s not the time to relax and move onto the next project. Now it’s time to lock in the payback.
11. Shape Up Your Data
You’ll be more efficient if you scrub your data. Eliminate duplicates, append information to leads already in your database, and identify where critical data is missing, such as phone numbers or industry information. A third-party tool can help fill in the data gaps.
12. Implement your Follow Up Tactics
You planned, so follow-up should be easy. Put those plans into action immediately to gain the advantage of being first out of the gate.
13. Be Patient and Persistent
It’s human nature to want the sales to materialize quickly. You may be lucky with some of your prospects. However, most will not be ready to buy today. So don’t consider your follow-up to be a once and done thing. Plan and execute a nurturing campaign—a series of persuasive emails or a periodic newsletter that keeps your company in the forefront of their minds.
By following these tips, you’ll do much more than create an awe-inspiring booth or presentation. You’ll also get results from your efforts. More qualified individuals will spend time with your salespeople and executives at the event, you’ll come away with more comprehensive information about them, and be able to follow up successfully, converting leads into sales more efficiently. And isn’t that why you plan events in the first place?
What do you do to ensure your events succeed? What might you implement after reading this article? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!