Best Practices for Maximizing ROI at Trade Shows

Trade shows can be a great way to grow your business and establish a presence as an industry leader, but to make them profitable both pre-show planning and post-show follow up is a must.

Use online forms to tag and put leads into your CRM, and before a show is even over you’ll already be tracking who came through your booth as a contact, a lead and/or a customer.

Plan Ahead

A good plan is certainly part of that equation: decide in advance what your trade show ROI must be – ie, how many sales or leads must be generated for it to be worthwhile – and then concentrate on achieving those goals. Calculating your ROI on trade shows is pretty straightforward: simply figure out how much sales came in as a result of the show and add up your ROI in dollars. At the end of the day you shouldn’t really think of any other way to measure it. For retail or direct-to-consumer companies it’s simple, you either sold it or you didn’t resonate at the show. Business-to-business exhibitors usually have to make more complex calculations as they usually factor in the revenue earned through vendor contracts and partnerships into the overall ROI calculations. And finally, when calculating clicks and impressions and revenue and other metrics in order to calculate ROI, be sure that customer lifetime value (CLV) is also used to paint a realistic view of the long-term value of the prospective and existing customers who allowed you to evaluate trade show ROI over time. And, lastly, when following up with new trade show contacts, be sure to tag them in your CRM for easy identification of those leads with the highest propensity to become affiliate customers or a paying customer over time, using ‘trade show attendee’.

Focus On Conversion

While your company might draw people to the booth with an eye-catching design or freebies, this approach will increase ROI only when prospects use and gain value from what you offer. As such, the main value proposition for your booth needs to be irresistible because that will be the primary driver of ROI. Companies need to keep a tab on their ROI by entering and calculating sales figures and trade show expenses in spreadsheets or other data analytics tools, comparing the performance of a trade show with other marketing strategies, and allocate resources accordingly. If your sales cycle is long, it can be difficult to perceive revenue coming from a trade show. Predictive analytics can be used to compute what your eventual actual ROI will be, and then you can adjust it as more deals close. One of the best ways to see ROI is to use tags in your CRM that specify leads from an event – that way you know who attended your booth very quickly and can follow up.

Engage Attendees

You can maximise your trade show ROI if you get engaged with those attendees before the event happens. Maybe it can be a pre-show email campaign build brand awareness. Or attendee remembers your booth thanks to an event experience they had there. Whether you use a VR experience or something more interactive like a game, you’ll have something other booths won’t, and you’ll draw more people to your booth and get valuable feedback from potential customers. The data captured by attending trade shows can then be used to upgrade and develop new offerings, and to track the CLV of your customers (which is a holistic view of an individual customer’s lifecycle, and is much easier to measure the long-term impacts of trade show participation).

Track Your Results

They are an engaging booth and content, but other tactics might also be helpful. Reminding event attendees before an event about what they can find at your booth, and that you can help them solve their problems, might lead to more qualified leads. CRM systems can further track event leads to sales, indicating what trade show investments are worthwhile so that, based on the information, you can decide whether or not to participate in an event to capture marketing dollars – or reroute them elsewhere if the show is useless. Organisations invest a lot of time and money into participating in trade shows so it is vitally important to gain as much as possible from the experience. Keeping costs under control, defining goals and objectives, maximising conversion and listening to feedback are all great ways to maximise return on event investment and also position yourself for future success.

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