By Pat Hinds
I spent three days last week helping a client at the Calgary Go Expo Gas & Oil Exposition; I was working the trade show floor assisting with lead generation. I am firm believer that trade shows are a good marketing investment and can be a great tool to acquire market share in strategic verticals. The name of my company is POIM; this stands for Plan, Organize, Implement, and Measure and these skills are required if you want to maximize your marketing investment in a trade show. The following is a few of my tips on how to maximize an investment in trade shows:
Plan: A plan for trade shows needs to be built on a ROI for the marketing investment; the ROI should be measured on lead generation including new customers, existing customers, partners and new sources of media. The planning stage should happen prior to the commitment to the trade show and should include who and how many people will attend, do your customers attend, do your existing or target partners, and what media covers the show. Each objective should have a value and your score should be compared to the cost of the show. If the show delivers the target score it should result in a good marketing investment.
Organize: Companies need to organize the lead generation activities as soon as the commitment is made to the show. New lead generation requires getting the show announcement on your website as early as possible and may include activities like a press release supporting a new product offering at the show. Communications with existing customers and partners needs to be staged in advance of the show including an email campaign and telemarketing ensuring the customers are aware of your presence. The media and analysts need to be contacted early to ensure you can book time to meet with them while at the the show.
Implement: Effective implementation is a result of good planning and organization. New customer generation requires the sales reps to be aggressive and engage with people walking by the booth. I like to ask a broad question that is related to the show; an example at security show I might ask is, “are you interested in web security?” Reps need to get as many people in the booth as possible allowing them to determine if the person is the best contact; if not, the reps need to ask for a referral to the person they should be contacting. Existing customers should be rewarded for visiting your booth with promotional merchandise or tickets to a customer event. Media kits need to be prepared and the marketing team needs to track down the media to ensure you are positioned to get some press.
Measure: All prospects, customers, partners and media need to be scanned at the show and notes attached to the scan. When the show is over the information need to be implemented into your CRM and an action plan for follow-up assigned to the appropriate personnel. Post follow-up activities include having the marketing team prepare a SWOT analysis to determine if the the objectives outlined in the planning stage were met.