Post authored by Siobhan Connellan, Senior Manager of Exhibitor Operations at Experient
Never in the world’s history have people been so connected thanks to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all the other social media outlets available. There was a time, not so long ago, when there were musings that technology would completely replace old communication methods like actually talking. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, with so many technology options nowadays, people tend to value face-to-face time even more. How often have you heard, or even said, “It’s so nice to finally meet you in person”?
This very human desire to connect with others is what continues to drive the tradeshow and event industry. But let’s face it—though the desire is strong, the economic realities mean that not everyone can exhibit at every event they wish. There’s now more pressure than ever before for exhibitors to make new business connections, collect sales leads, and show the return on investment for every tradeshow dollar spent.
When you start making a list of all the things you have to do to prepare and execute an exhibit, you tend to get bogged down by logistics. Often it’s all operations and a little marketing, before reaching the climax that is SHOW TIME! However, the only thing lacking more than pre-show marketing is post-show follow-up. Successful participation in tradeshows requires a more holistic approach, as opposed to the “magic bullet” effort so popular today. Understanding these key fundamentals of exhibiting success will help you make the most of your efforts:
1. Choose the show wisely. Define your target and make sure this event attracts that target. Take a look at who else is exhibiting. Is your competition there?
2. Attract your target to the show, and specifically, to your booth. Reach out to your current customers and prospects, and if it’s available, get the list of pre-registrants. Tell them where you are at the show and why they should come see you.
3. Have a plan to capture, qualify, and most importantly, follow up with your sales leads. 80% of sales leads collected at tradeshows receive no follow-up. I once heard someone argue that the figure was so high because of the number of tire-kickers roaming the exhibit floor. He backed off of that response after I started asking what type of pre-show marketing he had done and how he qualified his leads in his booth, which showed he hadn’t done his homework.
4. Do the math after the show. Did the show’s attendance reflect your target audience? What percentage of those in your target actually made it to your booth? Where are those leads in the sales pipeline? What is their conversion rate? How did your investment in this show compare with other marketing investments in terms of cost per lead/exposure?
Simply showing up and hoping something good happens won’t result in a return you can justify. Taking a comprehensive, integrated approach will yield success and produce the metrics needed to validate (or invalidate) your participation at the show.
About Siobhan Connellan, Senior Manager of Exhibitor Operations
For nearly 20 years, Siobhan has developed and delivered a wide array of lead retrieval products to exhibitors at over 300 of the largest tradeshows in the United States. As the Senior Manager of Exhibitor Operations for Experient, the nation’s leading source for integrated meeting and event services for tradeshow organizers, corporations, and exhibitors, her mission is to develop products and services that facilitate the collection, follow-up, and analysis of tradeshow sales leads. Siobhan’s current efforts include capitalizing on mobile technology and social media to provide innovative new event marketing tools and solutions for exhibitors.
Before she joined Experient, Siobhan served as a Field Manager for E&J Enterprises and also as a Management Analyst for the U.S. Department of Energy. Siobhan has a BA in Management from Hood College and has also earned the Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) credential. The CTA program is a groundbreaking nationwide certification program that serves to increase tourism by training and inspiring frontline hospitality employees and volunteers to work together to turn every visitor encounter into a positive experience.