How to maximise event investment

Every manager of stands at events wants to know how to maximise event investment. The challenge is that events absorb time and money. That’s especially true if you’re exhibiting. It takes time to set up. It takes money for the stand and event collateral. And, if you have a big stand, you’ll need proportionately more in terms of visual aids and support.

Having done shows such as the Cannes Duty Free show, Miami Duty Free show, UK Motor show and the GQ show in my professional life, I feel reasonably qualified to write about a subject that drives me mad.

I like exhibitions. They’re tiring, take you away from the day job and give people bad backs. But, they can be a great source of new business if you get it right. So, what’s the secret? In truth, it isn’t difficult. But, it comes down to a few simple factors.

Right position

Clearly, if you’re hidden away in a dark place near the toilets, that’s not great. Equally, there is a school of thought that says you shouldn’t face the lecture theatre or restaurant. Yet, that does position may deliver eyeballs. In other words, your footfall will be high and sometimes they will be there looking at you for some time. You need to decide what works best for you and for your budget.

Get the stand right

Of course, budget dictates. However, it’s about interaction. Therefore, think visual. That goes for how you design and decorate your site. Make your graphics and messages strong and bold.

This goes for technology too. Subject to cost, can you get video on the stand? And, what about how you and your team look? A suit may be fine but could you create an image by what you wear? Ultimately, it has to fit your brand and company image but you need to use whatever you have at your disposal to attract the right visitors.

Train your team

Nothing frustrates me more than poorly trained staff. Stand staff need to be clear about their duties. That means not least:

  • not wandering off every 5 minutes
  • understanding the process for engaging and capturing passers by
  • understanding what questions to ask
  • Understanding the key messages and how to articulate these
  • Understanding what data to gather on the customer and their requirements
  • Having a data capture form and method so that they can maximise follow up
  • Ensuring that they fill these forms out correctly (believe me, I’ve seen it go horribly wrong)

Consider event take aways

Take aways could be information about your business and what you offer or promotional merchandise. Either way, think about what you want to communicate. Do you want something formal or fun or both? Do you want them to have something that sits on their desk for posterity? Or, do you want something sweet that makes the customer think positively about you and remember you? Again, budget comes into this. But, if this is something you can accommodate, think hard about what to do.

Prioritise Follow up

Follow up starts before the show. You need to consider resourcing early on. How are you going to follow up those lovely leads? But what about encouraging your current customers to come to see you? Sometimes, people are worried that will drive customers into the arms of competing exhibitors. But, it’s likely that if the customer is going anyhow, it’s better to arrange to see them.

How about calling your key target prospects to ask them if they’re attending? See if you can arrange to meet at the event. It’s a reason to talk to them. And, if they’re not going, you can see if you can meet them afterwards to talk about your proposition. Maybe even extend your show offer to them.

In reality, follow up should have been my first point. The reason is that it’s criminal to miss opportunities by not following up. Your top competitors will likely follow up prospects from the show straight afterwards. Therefore, you need to be ahead of the game and plan to:

  • process the leads quickly after the show
  • grade them
  • put leads on your CRM system.
  • call everyone quickly.
  • continue calling until you have a defined outcome.

You might want to consider a post-show offer. Note: many businesses have in-show offers too in order to drive registration, build their database or generate actual sales.

Nothing negates exhibition investment and productivity more than failing to follow up. So, work out how you’ll approach the following:

  • Who will make the follow up calls?
  • How will you monitor and measure this?
  • What’s your target for following up the leads in terms of speed and in terms of desired outcomes?

We’d recommend an initial call to everyone (including leaving a message for those that are unavailable) within seven days at worst? The early bird catches the worm and we recommend fast follow up even if that results in customers asking you to call back in a week or more. The point is that prospects need to remember you and think positively about you compared to your competitors. And they won’t do that if you leave it 4 weeks.

The other issue here is the importance of continuous follow up. It isn’t just about the first call. We’ve seen situations with clients where B and C grade leads have outperformed the A grade leads from the stand. The reason was simple. The sales team on the stand grab the hottest leads. They start the follow up process then get side-tracked by their day job and the opportunities fall by the wayside. Don’t let that happen to you.

There are, of course, other ways to enhance your presence. If relevant, speaker slots increase your visibility. Taking an advert in the event programme might be worthwhile if budget allows. However, as far as lead generation is concerned, I prefer to invest my time and money on the stand. Equally, technology is now playing an increasing role in driving visitors and interactions at the show. So, take a look at what’s on offer from the event organisers.

Exhibiting at trade shows is a considered investment in both time and money. It pays therefore to put as much effort into the planning and follow up as it does during the event.

If you’d like to discuss exhibition telemarketing, give GSA a call now.

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