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Maximizing Trade Shows


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At a show or event, you’re reaching 20 percent of your universe, but what are you doing for the 80 percent who couldn’t attend? Learn how to increase your ROI.

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Maximizing Trade Shows

  1. 1. Insights Marketing & Branding Maximizing trade shows Strategies to improve your success rate Interviewed by Sue Ostrowski M ost companies that attend trade and send out an e-mail blast to people shows put all their time and in your database driving them to that money into the show itself. But microsite. You can then track the people by expanding your efforts into pre- and who open that e-mail, and instantly, you post-show activities, you can extend cut the 1,000 prospects gathered at the your brand and reach considerably more show down to the 120 people who were people than just those who attend the serious enough to go look at the materi- show, says Jonathan Fisher, CEO of als that you’re offering them. These are BrandExtract LLC. the 120 people that you want your sales- “Companies carve out a budget for the people to focus on. show but don’t set any money aside for It’s highly effective and easy to ex- the up- and downstream process, which ecute, but you’d be surprised how many is where the most value comes from,” he marketing departments think they’re do- says. “Most companies put money into ing their job when they’ve gathered 1,000 the event, sit back and hope something names and passed them on to sales. But happens. But the vast majority of the op- by culling those leads, your limited sales portunity surrounding the activity hap- force can make best use of their time pens before and after the event, not nec- with the higher quality leads and not just essarily during. If every show or event is Jonathan Fisher the names that were collected in a free not paying for itself three or four times CEO booth drawing. over, you’re doing something wrong.” BrandExtract Smart Business spoke with Fisher How else can you continue to engage po- about how to maximize your show and tential clients after a show? event dollars and how to reach the 80 percent of your audience that isn’t mous investment with that comparative- If you’ve created online communities attending. ly tiny investment in pre- and post-show before the show, you can keep that going activities that will make that event ex- after the show. You can say, ‘I sat in on What mistakes do companies make regard- ponentially more meaningful and more this breakout session and heard this per- ing trade shows? valuable. son talk about this subject, and here’s The market’s tighter now, and if you’re what I’m thinking about that.’ Tools like Very few companies invest in pre- or looking to capitalize on your current in- Twitter or Blogger are effective dialog post-show strategies. Typically, they vestments, you need to step back, rethink strategies if you have the time to sup- just invest in the show, but this loses 80 where and how you’re spending your port them. Anybody who was following percent of the opportunity surrounding money and resources, and make those you before, if you’re still providing rel- the event since only 20 percent of your investments deliver greater returns. evant intelligence beyond the show, will audience is likely attending. Too many continue to follow you, extending your companies simply send out an invitation What can you do after the event to maxi- reach and adding to the network those before the show, and that’s all they do. mize the leads you’ve gathered? who weren’t able to attend. They generally don’t create any other At a show, you’re reaching 20 percent path to dialogue with their company Exhibitors at trade shows think that of your universe, but what are you doing around that event. They don’t look at so- because they spent time with someone for the 80 percent who couldn’t attend? cial media. They don’t think about creat- who stopped by their booth, or gave Is there a way that they can attend the ing a LinkedIn group, for example, that’s them their sales materials, that the job show electronically, dialog with people specific to that event where people can is done and that person is now a lead or from the show virtually, and get white post questions and comments about it sold. But that’s just where the real work papers after the show? If you are feed- and the company can attract conversa- starts. ing them information and inviting them tions with those who might not be able You want to make the process as effec- into those conversations, they’re get- to attend. They don’t consider tactics tive and efficient as possible, but com- ting 75 percent of the benefit through that would attract leads, other than panies are rarely prepared to go through you at zero cost to them — which will typical PR and ad placement. They don’t the downstream sales process after the give you an advantage over competitors think about remote monitoring of their event. If you already have a microsite who probably are still using the same event presentations or setting up a video set up around your event, you can post old, tired approach to trade shows and blog so that people who can’t attend can all your presentations, white papers and events. << still participate. product releases from the show. You can Many of these technologies are rela- offer electronic downloads for catalogs tively inexpensive to implement com- pared to the thousands and thousands of JOnatHan FISHer is CEO of BrandExtract, an integrated branding and communications firm that guides growing companies by dollars you’re sinking into the event, but providing strategic branding solutions, market positioning communications, advertising, social, print and interactive services. Reach him companies rarely maximize their enor- at (713) 942-7959 or (214) 770-7378 or Insights Marketing & Branding is brought to you by BrandExtract 20 Smart Business Dallas | November 2009