Before we get into the “how or why” let me ask you a validation question first.
Have you ever been asked by your manager or CEO “I have registered for a tradeshow that starts in 2 months, could you please get it organised?” (or worse – it's in 5 weeks’ time…!)
If you haven’t then this article isn’t for you – unless you are the CEO/Manager that’s doing the asking…!
Many small and medium businesses feel as though the incredible results and success that large companies achieve at tradeshows is something that is way out of their reach and feel they need a $100k tradeshow budget to be able to compete. This assumption, while it seems obvious, in reality is far from the truth.
We will often hear staff at a tradeshow saying things like, “we just come to fly the flag”, or “we just have to come here because it's where our customers are” and even a very generic “oh we are just doing some brand recognition”
And in many cases these statements are perfectly ok, and are typically something that’s been handed down over the years or picked up from what other exhibitors are saying. However, it's also the reason why so many fall into the trap of believing that they will never get great results without spending a lot of money.
So why do most businesses fail to get the results they want from a tradeshow?
1. They haven’t had a clear budget, objective and strategy.
As a business, you would know the importance of budgets, objectives and strategies in the everyday running of your business, however it is the most overlooked area when it comes to tradeshows.
A clear budget with focused objectives and strategies give you a massive edge when used in the tradeshow area. Your team knows what is happening and how to make it happen as well as it gives you a solid foundation for you to launch your campaign from, and track the return on investment after it's over.
So how do you get clear on this?
You need to create a template or spreadsheet where you can list out all your planned expenses that relate to the show. Then you need to have a 1-page expo-plan (1-PEP) that clearly states why you are going to this show and what you are going to get out of it.
A quick tip here – if you struggle with the 1-PEP document then you probably shouldn’t be going to this tradeshow!
We worked with a client recently who had been to a few tradeshows and was really struggling to get any value out of them. They couldn’t really tell us what was going wrong. To them, it all felt like it was just a big blur of getting ready weeks before then standing around in the morning of the show waiting for people to turn up, spending the rest of the day talking and swapping cards, coming home exhausted with a few sales that covered their costs and a couple of “good leads” that may turn into a good account in 6 months…
They wanted to try one more expo before giving up on them as a waste of their time and money. They got in touch with us because they knew they needed to try something different but were at a loss to know how or what it was. The first thing we did was to provide them with a budget template to fill out and talked them through the 1-PEP document.
The first thing we discovered was that they had been spending a lot more than they thought on tradeshows…! Now with a structured budget they were able to focus on the essentials and really tighten up the time they were spending on it as well.
With the completion of the 1-PEP document came a great relief knowing that they now had a reason for being at the show and the entire team can now see the outcome they are aiming for. As Helen Keller said “The only thing worse than being blind, is having sight but no vision”
These few simple changes saw them increase their leads generated from 150 to 350 and with the focus they now have they were able to convert a higher percentage of those leads after the show giving them a ROI of over 700%!
Many businesses fail to do this basic step and put themselves into a spiral of doubt, uncertainty and distrust about tradeshows. Knowing how to fix it is one thing – actually doing it is the hard part - and we make it easy for you.
2. They don’t use appointments, sales scripts and systems that maximise the time in front of prospects.
It’s important that you use templates, proven sales strategies and systems so you can skyrocket your tradeshow results.
Many businesses fail to do this. Instead, they attempt to “wing it”, or try and get attention on the day to make prospects stop and talk. Collecting business cards, writing names and details on loose paper and talking to people who are not your target client are some of the many mistakes businesses make in this area. These are the same businesses that end up frustrated and exhausted with the lack of results.
Rather than engaging in this approach to exhibiting, you need to have a solid plan for meeting with the people who are most important to you, weeding out the “tyre kickers” and knowing what to say when you have their attention.
So how do you do this?
- Plan well in advance and invite all key clients to your stand – tell them what they will see and learn.
- Have a lead scoring strategy where your sales team ask the number one question that determines if a prospect is a potential client within the first few seconds. Use scripts to both move on politely from the ones that don’t score, and engage those that do.
- Use software and technology to capture the most important data from each lead.
One of our recent clients was getting reasonable results from their tradeshow strategy. As most companies do, they would go into a show all fired up and pumped that they get to talk to prospects. They would go hard out and get good results but needed to scale and were finding it hard to break through.
With a strong clear budget and strategy, it didn’t take long to work out a structured script for the sales team, that helped to filter out the great prospects from the general mass of visitors who come for “free stuff” and just looking.
Coupling this with a set of targeted scripts for the conversation it resulted in a list of prospects after the show that were highly qualified. Because they were able to filter effectively they also doubled the number of leads generated as they were talking to more of the “right” prospects.
This resulted in revenue of over $2m being generated as a direct result of that show over the following 6 months. A massive 145% increase compared to previous efforts!
3. They don’t follow-up.
Follow-up in any sales process is essential – however many businesses simply don’t understand how to do it effectively especially after a tradeshow!
You can collect as many cards or names and emails as you like at a show but if you don’t follow them up correctly then it becomes harder than necessary to turn those leads into actual sales. Many businesses wrongly believe that following up once or twice will be enough and prospects will get irritated if they do more than that. They don’t realise just how many sales they are missing out on.
Follow-up is important, and to do it effectively you need to understand a few basics:
- Have a purpose; Make sure you get in touch with the right information.
- Get frequent; 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th
- Don’t wait; The first company to follow-up get almost 50% of all the sales.
- Be creative; Use your understanding of the lead to have something informative and interesting each time.
Each one of the processes above needs to be systemized and scripted. It’s important that you follow a tried and tested process that you know has the ability to deliver the best results.
There are so many touch points after a tradeshow that you can use in your follow-up. You have to be specific, relevant and consistent to make your valuable tradeshow dollars spent bring the return that you expect.
We have a client that designs and factory manufactures granny flats and small homes. They would exhibit at a field day and reach around 9000 prospective clients over a 3-day period and add 1300 names to their database. They would then convert about 15 of those visitors into clients within 4 weeks, which generated over $1.6m in revenue for them. We discovered that these 15 sales were people that were highly qualified and didn’t really require much “selling”. Because of the success they had with these 15 and the high value they brought – they were virtually ignoring the other 1285 leads that had been added to the database! They were still emailing these new leads but they just got added to their standard list and they were getting huge drop-offs. After working with them, two things became clear:
- They were communicating with people that had visited them for a specific reason yet they were giving them very generic content and advice.
- They were only making the first contact with the 1285 leads 2 months after the show. Most people had long forgotten they had even been to their stand by then!
Increasing results for them was easy. All we did was separate the new leads into a different list with 4 specific segment groups, and set-up an email campaign that started automatically the day after the show. The very next field day resulted in a similar amount of leads generated however the conversion went up to 50 clients within 4 weeks giving them revenue of over $5m!
Many businesses fail to implement the essential follow-up process. Without it, they don’t get the stunning results they crave for.
Businesses should always get sensational results with their exhibitor efforts!
They should, but for many they don’t. While certain niche or high demand businesses manage to reap excellent results without putting in much effort, it simply doesn’t work for the majority.
If you rely too much on guesswork, it’s time to change the way you view your tradeshow planning, your systems and scripts, and your follow-up process.
Watch your business soar to success with sensational results!