The big tradeshow event has come and gone and your exhibit is safely packed up and off to its next destination. Everyone has headed home and you're left with a spreadsheet from your conference scanner, a pile of business cards and scraps of paper with notes from your sales team. The work doesn’t end once the show is over!
Research shows 83% of brands say that their #1 reason for event participation is increasing sales. However, 80% of tradeshow exhibitors don’t follow up with their show leads. Investing in relationships with potential customers post-show is most important as you pull the lead into your marketing funnel. While booth visuals, giveaways and personable interactions have the power to draw in visitors, marketers can make memorable connections by taking time and attention following up with each new lead. Reaching out, asking good questions, conducting active listening and providing something of value to the conversation are simple yet powerful ways to continue to show credibility. They are also effective and proven relationship building techniques that generate positive returns.
If the main reason to attend events is to increase sales, continuing the conversation with leads after the show is a must. Here are a few ideas to consider in your post-show engagement:
Compile your leads into your CRM.
If your company uses a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, such as Salesforce, one of your first priorities when getting back in the groove at the office should be to add all of your new contacts to that system and assign each to the appropriate department or sales person. Include any notes beside the contacts you met. Be sure to include notes about what was discussed with each contact, if orders were taken, what type of follow-up is required or something memorable about the conversation.
Follow up directly to leads from the booth with compelling content.
Keep your momentum running by getting back to your prospects quickly. Your competitor usually waits two weeks, so be the first in. That way, you’re not just another phone call or email amidst the rest of the post-show clutter. Keeping it personal also makes it more genuine. For example, recount something they said from the show or attach content that might be fit for their needs. Be sure to thank them for visiting your booth and provide answers to any questions you promised regarding your products or services. Always think, if you were them, how would you want to be contacted after this conference?
Take advantage of marketing automation.
If your company uses a marketing automation system, like Pardot, use the tool to its full advantage. Since your CRM system should link to your marketing automation tool, you’ll be able to track your tradeshow prospects’ activity, for example, what they click on your website and how they engage with emails. Through the tool, you’ll not only be able to send personalized post-show emails, but also create automated email campaigns to continue the conversation based on their interest, nurturing prospects with relevant content about your company or other resources that may help fit their needs.
Blog and about the event.
To increase thought leadership, write a blog post that highlights the main trends focused on at the event or what your company featured. Remember, for everyone that made it to the show, there were probably just as many that couldn't be there. Give these people a sense of what took place at the show, what the key takeaways were and you'll find yourself gaining additional exposure for your efforts.
Engage prospects through social media.
Along with email follow-ups, if you or your colleagues had memorable conversations and clear interest from certain people at the trade show, reach out and connect with your new contacts through social media channels, specifically LinkedIn. Not only does this add an additional touchpoint, but connecting on LinkedIn opens up the possibility for other connections of your contact to see you as a potential resource.
Overall, at its core, face-to-face engagement at tradeshows creates a personal connection and builds trust between a company and its target audience. Exhibiting at tradeshows gives you a unique opportunity to positively promote your brand, position yourself as a thought leader and generate new leads—as well as network and garner a little publicity. Don’t drop out of the race when the event is over—it’s just the beginning to closing the deal.