3 Steps to Increase Trade Show ROI by Pat Ryan

Posted on Oct 22, 2013 in Archive

Each week we talk with prospects and clients marketing to corporate training & HR.  In some  ways, you could say we have our “finger on the pulse” of the mood in the corporate training/HR world.  We understand the buying habits, market trends and ongoing challenges in this industry – all from a prospecting perspective.

One ongoing challenge we see for companies marketing to corporate training and HR is:

  • How to Achieve Higher Trade Show Return-on-Investment (ROI)

It’s important to realize that many times, we don’t have to make fancy or massive changes to get better results — fundamental change is often what is needed.  This week, we will offer a few fundamental ideas to dramatically increase the results of your trade show investment:

1.  Pre-Show Calling Campaigns

In today’s marketplace, you must be more proactive about finding prospects at shows.  You need to “go get” them, rather than “waiting and hoping” that they will come to you at your booth.  This means making promotional calls to:

  • “Sell” prospects on visiting your booth, and
  • Identify prospects with specific needs in advance of the show

Find out who among the attendees might have an applicable project on the horizon.  Then, schedule an appointment to meet them at your booth.  This kind of planning creates a much more fertile environment for “growing” prospects and sales while at the show!

  • Is this easy to not do? Yes. “Waiting and hoping” for prospects to visit your booth at the show is much easier and may seem cheaper —in the short run!  But, this is obviously also the least effective way to improve your trade show ROI.  As a matter of fact, it is the most costly way to go in the long run when you spend a significant sum of money on a trade show that produces little or no tangible results!
  • Is this easy to do? Yes — because with a little forethought, you CAN do it!  First, since most show attendee lists do not come with telephone numbers, “411”/contact verification of the attendee list must be done in advance.  (Hopefully, you have an administrative person who can perform this work.)  Once you have the phone numbers, your sales team is ready to call!  This approach will require some time and money, but the resulting increased trade show ROI will be well worth it!

Think about it: Making this fundamental change will result in appointments with qualified prospects at the trade show — BEFORE you have even set foot on the trade show floor!

2.  Creating an Event AT the Event

Trade shows present a unique opportunity where you have a group of potential prospects — from all over the country — who are going to be under one roof at the same time while you and your team are there. Why not create a special event during the event? 

  • Create a luncheon or “Lunch-n-Learn”:  Invite key prospects to attend a free meal, and at the same time, provide them with a forum for discussing their needs and sharing ideas and insights.   This creates an opportune time to introduce them (as appropriate) to your solution offering, while developing rapport and building trust.  You can create both an awareness of your company AND some good will, too!
  • Promote the Event: Of course, the attendees have to KNOW about the luncheon in order to attend.  It is critical that you proactively promote the luncheon to get people to attend!  We don’t recommend simply sending a flyer and hoping that enough people attend.  We’ve seen companies do this and end up with an empty room!  Everyone sends flyers.  You’ve got to be different – you’ve got to stand out!
  • Phone Follow Up:  So…send a flyer and then follow up with a phone call.  We have done event promotion calling and have heard people say, “I have a dozen lunch invitations for this show sitting on my desk, but I will go to your event because you took the time to call and invite me personally!”  Doing this effectively requires that someone make the calls.  Again, either your team has to make the time to do it, or you can outsource it!

3.  Reduce your Trade Show Investment

As marketers, you should constantly be crunching the numbers to answer the question: Are trade shows a good investment to reach the decision makers you seek?  After all, trade shows may not be the most effective way to identify the decision makers you want to connect with. 

Consider the following: 

Reducing Trade Show Investment?

Many companies have chosen to reduce (or even eliminate) their investment in trade shows, and are redirecting those marketing dollars toward other lead generation initiatives.  This is certainly an option to consider.  While you may feel it is necessary to have a trade show presence, you may want to rethink the total annual trade show investment. 

Re-Directing your Budget?

It might make sense to re-channel some of your annual trade show dollars into a potentially more effective area, like high quality, targeted lists, coupled with an outbound email/calling campaign. 

Who’s Attending: Soldiers or Generals?

As we all know, many trade show attendees are actually the “soldiers” and not the “Generals” in an organization.  Therefore, the leads you get from a trade show are not usually Buyers, and sometimes not even Influencers.  So, what should you do?

      • The people you really want to connect with are the decision makers, spearheading projects, controlling the budget, or “running the show” in training!  Does your trade show investment give you those leads?  Probably not. 
      • Using a precisely targeted list of “Generals” can create the direct connection you want – between you and where the projects originate — all without your team having to leave the office!  
      • We have seen this first hand as many of our customers have stepped up their investment in our proven, hand-built lists, while reducing their investment in trade shows, creating greater overall marketing ROI.

Regardless of which methods you choose to improve your trade show ROI, the ideas presented here can be used TODAY to begin enjoying a marketing edge over your competitors. 

The Bottom Line:

You can’t afford to “wait or hope” for prospects to come to you at the next tradeshow…you must proactively promote to them, talk with them, and nurture them!  And, if you can’t FIND the decision makers you’re looking for, contact us.  We’ve done all the hard work for you!

Mentor Tech Group has the decision-maker information you seek.

With key contacts in corporate training and HR, our market intelligence database includes email addresses, exact areas of responsibility, and often direct-dial phone numbers and key sales notes.  Just imagine – No more digging for leads or sorting through piles of poor quality trade show lists!

Watch a 2 minute message about how MTG can help you.  To learn more, and to start saving time and money, please call us today at (651) 457-8600.   

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