We’re preparing to exhibit at our next conference. Well before the show, we not only plan what happens with our team during the show, but we also prepare for what happens in the days after. If you’re tired of losing out on opportunities after your sales & marketing events, check out our plan for conference follow-up.
Pre-Conference Action Items
We’re big fans of starting with the end in mind. We set goals for what announcements we can make, how many leads we will capture, and how many industry contacts we will make. “You are what you count” is a key part of our entire strategy because it helps us focus on what we value.
Did anyone check the booth after the last trade show? Did everything make it back? Were there missing rivets, burned-out lamps or broken pieces? Finding out you have booth problems during setup is painful – so inspect before you ship.
Review Marketing Opportunities
Conferences and trade shows have numerous ways to help you spend your marketing dollars. Look at the options early
If you have a new product, plan to announce a new service or need to get more business cards, the week before may be too late. Plan your materials so you’re not paying rush charges and worrying about them arriving on time (been there…). We try to plan out email and call campaigns even before we book flights. Note, you may be smart to set up drip marketing campaigns that include email and text messages, as well as phone calls.
Book Hotel & Travel
As early as feasible, set your travel agenda. Not only will it ensure you have what you want, you’ll probably save money. It’s more convenient to stay at or adjacent to the event than across town. Or even worse, you don’t want to have that white knuckle experience of NOT having a flight or room available.
Conference Action Items
It’s important for your event staff to know your goals. Make sure you convey to everyone what you’re trying to achieve – those measurable goals you set well before the show, what data you want to capture about leads, and special contacts you’re hoping to find.
Further to a previous point, trade show audiences are inundated with messages about hundreds of companies. What one thing do you want every visitor to remember about your company? If you can truly highlight one thing, make sure it comes through in all your presentations, materials and discussions (e.g., “we’re known as the fastest because of our patent-pending technology”).
The most important task at the show is to collect leads, preferably qualified leads that will help your business grow. Not every contact is a potential customer (e.g., media, industry connections), but you want to capture their contact information. If the show offers an electronic scanner, get one. If you have to save business cards, so be it, but make notes and store them safely. If visitors have to give you their information another way, make it happen – you need to be able to reconnect after the show. The more notes you can add at the event, the better.
At the end of each day, gather your sales team and review the day. What worked? What didn’t work? What could you improve? What is missing? What did you learn from the day’s interactions about your audience, the conference, your products & services, and your presence on the floor? Make notes and turn them into action items with due dates.
Post-Conference Action Items
As soon as you can get data into your CRM or lead management system, do it! If you collected electronic information, you’ll be ahead of the game. Get it loaded quickly!
Inevitably you will find bad leads, duplicate data or other data you want to add to round out your event leads. Schedule whatever massaging is required in advance, and allocate staffing resources (e.g., database specialists or administrative help).
Once your data is up to par, distribute the leads to your team for follow-up. Then…
The best show follow-up should be personalized to the lead. A generic blast is fine, but the more personal you can make it, the better. One idea we love is including photos of your presence at the event, which reinforces who you are and how the lead met you: “Oh, the guys with the rocket that were so nice”… We’re advocates of segmentation, which helps with personalization, so if you can tag your leads during import or cleanup, it’ll help you segment. For example, you could manage using vertical markets (banking, insurance, media) or product interest (business loans, commercial general liability, game licensing). The more specific, the better.
As with every step of your funnel, you should drive toward a single call to action (CTA). Stick with a simple flow with minimal “friction” and don’t try to close faster than makes sense (if your product costs millions of dollars, the one-call close is probably not going to fly). Follow-up actions may include downloading materials, registering for webinars or scheduling a meeting.
Conference & Trade Show Follow Up Starts Sooner Than You Think
To put a bow on these ideas, if you’re planning to attend an event, don’t wait until the day before or day after to plan your trade show follow up activities. Start with the end in mind, creating goals, focusing on them throughout the process, and building out as much as you can before you even go. Then your process can be super fast and smooth when you return. Like leads faster helps win more business, so does following up smarter!