Posted by Meghan Skiff

TradeShow_ROI.jpgIn the era of “let’s do everything online,” there aren’t many nice things being said about trade shows:

These are all true.

Despite this, companies keep doing trade shows. Why, you ask? Well, usually for the wrong reasons, like this one:

“OMG. How will it look if we don’t participate this year?!”

That’s not a good reason to invest in a tradeshow. But, there are some great reasons:

  • The event is well-attended by members of your target market.

  • Contacts in your current pipeline will attend.

  • Decision makers will be present.

Trade shows can be valuable in generating new leads and nurturing existing leads. Trade show ROI IS possible. But, the key is that you have to have a plan. Too many companies spend hours debating which tsochkes to giveaway and neglect to plan how they will generate traffic, leads and sales from the event.

I comes down to this: before you step onto the expo floor, you need to step up your game. Follow this simple formula to ensure that you have a solid lead generation and nurturing plan in place:

Step #1: Start lead gen before the the show starts.

You don’t have to wait until the booth is set up and the expo doors open to start generating leads around an industry event. Create blog and email content that contains helpful tips for attendees to get the most out of the industry event. Are you offering a giveaway at the show? Create a landing page and allow attendees to register online or increase their chances of winning via the online form.

Step #2: Use social monitoring to engage with attendees and influencers.

Set up streams to monitor the designated hashtag(s) for the event. Use and monitor this hashtag to keep a pulse on the conversation before, during and after the industry event. This is a great way to engage with folks that you haven’t met or reconnect with those that you have. Start a conversation and drive traffic to the booth, your blog and landing pages!

Step #3: Love and nurture those leads!

So, you’ve had a “successful” tradeshow, in that you “had great conversations.” Awesome. But, remember that many of the folks that you met may not be quite ready to buy (even if they were REALLY excited).  Keep the momentum going with a lead nurturing email campaign. Begin with a double opt-in to confirm subscriber interest and continue with your giveaway winners' announcement and then follow-up periodically with relevant blog articles, offers, webinar invites and demo offers.

Step #4: Measure and repeat.

All of your marketing activity (inbound, outbound or otherwise) must be measured!

One final note: it’s ok to be choosy when it comes to allocating time, budget and other resources to trade show and industry events. Your prospects are.

What do you think? How do you maximize your lead generation and ROI at tradeshows and other industry events?