SHEDDING LIGHT ON DOING IT RIGHT!
Exhibiting at trade shows are expensive proposition. Do it right. Or, do not do it at all.
START WITH THIS Question: What do I consider an acceptable marketing cost/lead?
Projecting your potential ROI using a calculation similar to the following example, which takes into account the total trade show marketing investment is a good start.
1. Number of qualified leads generated: e.g. 100
2. Percentage of those leads most likely to morph into SQL (Sales Qualified Leads): 25% or 25 total
3. Percentage likely to close & generate revenue: e.g. 50% or 12.5
4. Let's assume the average value per sale: e.g. $10,000
5. Expected sales volume: e.g. $10,000 x 12.5 = $125,000
6. Total investment at this trade show marketing event: e.g. $20,000.00
7. RETURN ON INVESTMENT = $125,000 / $20,000.00 = 6.25:1 or for every $1, $6.25 generated
8. Value of a new client over 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 years?
IN THIS CASE $200 WAS SPENT PER LEAD TO GENERATE A $10,000 SALE
It is important to identify all expenses incurred, including space rental, shipping, drayage, travel, services, exhibit costs, graphics, pre-show promotion and post-show follow-up campaigns. You can then identify whether or not you’re spending an acceptable amount based on your average sale & projected sales volume. This amount will vary by industry and individual company.
EMBRACE YOUR KINSHIP WITH KPI (KEY PERFORMING INDICATORS)
If your marketing efforts are out of sync with sales priorities, or you’re not getting an effective ROI on your expenditures, then it’s time to re-examine where and how you’re spending your marketing and advertising dollars.
Your key performance indicators (KPIs) will vary depending on your marketing goals. Sales and leads are some of the most obvious KPIs to track. But if you’ve had concurrent goals related to brand awareness, engagement, customer loyalty, etc., then you need to have unique defined KPIs to help you monitor performance. These KPIs might be social media mentions, website referral traffic, traffic from your branded search campaigns, etc. The critical thing is to have those measurements in place. Without a clearly defined KPI, you can’t defend the necessity of any marketing or advertising campaign.
SHIFT THE SPEND
Look at which campaigns are generating good ROIs, and consider shifting your spend there. If you’re a department in a larger organization, retaining your budget this way is often easier than having to later go back and ask higher-ups to rescind a previous year’s cut. And in all cases, it can allow you to continue to grow your business during economic downturns, while your competitors are actually reducing their visibility. You’ll end up enjoying much better market share and brand awareness after the economy improves.
CONNECTION FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF CONVERSATION GENERATION
If you’ve been focusing your spend on generating site traffic, you might want to shift more of that toward lead generation instead. Or, if prior marketing efforts already generated a lot of leads, you may want to focus on nurturing them, rather than on generating new leads.
But if all these efforts seem to result in nothing but non-converting prospects, it may be time to put more focus on cross-selling or up-selling your existing customers. The standard cost comparison between a new customer and and old one is five times the expense, so it often makes sense to spend the bulk of your marketing dollars regularly targeting your best customers, rather than prospecting widely.
Invite your non-converting prospects for a speech therapy at your next event. This event of speech, Ursula Le Guin argues, is the most potent form of entertainment we humans have — and the intimate tango of speaking and listening is the stuff of great power and great magic:
"When you speak a word to a listener, the speaking is an act. And it is a mutual act: the listener’s listening enables the speaker’s speaking. It is a shared event, intersubjective: the listener and speaker entrain with each other. "
DELIGHT WITH DIGITAL MARKETING — CONSIDER YOUR PROSPECTS NOT AS PASSIVE PATRONS —
"but as an active, intelligent, worthy collaborator. A colluder, a coillusionist."
Targeted email marketing typically provides more measurability than a brand-awareness campaign, and can be done at a comparatively lower cost. But be careful not to badger your list members too much less you risk fewer email-opens or even dropped subscribers. Instead, segment your audience, be personal in your messaging, and think of innovative ways to reward your best customers for their loyalty.
Similarly, social media offers many opportunities when your own budget – or the industry’s – is tightening. In comparison to other marketing outlets, social media allows you to reach a large number of people organically or through low-cost promotions. In turn, budget-conscious buyers often turn to social media for peer recommendations before making purchasing decisions, so social media is a great place to be when everyone else is feeling an economic pinch. Social platforms also become a defacto meeting place when personal or business travel budgets have been cut, providing the social marketer with a growing audience when attendance elsewhere is seemingly shrinking.
ARTICULATE WITH ASTUTE AUTOMATION
If you are still not using marketing automation software, you’re wasting valuable staff time doing something that software can do on your behalf. Marketing automation lets you send instant thank you notes to prospects from the trade show floor, reiterate your value proposition, and engage prospects with links to site materials that support your trade show message. After that, it’s an easy matter to use it to schedule “drip campaigns,” nurturing segments of your list with custom case studies, white papers, webinars, exclusive offers and more. What ever, you do, do not be repeari
PLAN THE WORK. WORK THE PLAN
- Have a team meeting: During this meeting discuss things like, “What is our goal? How many leads would it take to make this event a success?” Each organization will have different goals. If you are a machine manufacturer who sells a million dollar product, your lead goal would be much different than a clothing company going to a consumer show. If you are a enterprise software solution provider, your tact will be very different. No matter what your industry or product, have a set objectives will help drive your WHY of exhibiting at trade shows in first place.
- Name a team leader: This can be anyone who has a stake in the show’s success. This person will be responsible for booth scheduling, communicating goals, completing tasks and following up with booth staffers, and post-show follow-up.
- Run the numbers: Try and figure out how many leads it will take to make the show a financial success. However, remember that leads aren’t just simply a number goal. You need to always shoot for quality over quantity. (Unless, quantity is what your management is after.) So, what makes a good quality lead and how many of those do you need?
- Find out what you need: What do you need to make the goal happen? It could include pre-show promotions, a social media campaign, giveaways, in-booth demos, or a more eye-catching exhibit.
- Execute: The team will then be tasked to execute the plan and hit the goal.
- Follow Up: Plan who and how you will follow up on the leads and ways to measure your ROI.
IT's A WRAP
There are times when the growth in your spending will outpace the growth of your revenue. This is certainly common among start-ups, but it also applies when you’re expanding into new markets or product/service areas, undergoing an economic downturn, or if you’ve just become a little lackadaisical in managing aspects of your budget.
Since you need to “spend money to make money,” you want to be careful never to cut marketing efforts in a way that will hamper your business’ ability to grow. But if your promotional expenses have never been clearly tied to strategic goals, if your marketing efforts are out of sync with sales priorities, or you’re not getting an effective ROI on your expenditures, then it’s time to reexamine where and how you’re spending your marketing and advertising dollars.
Cutting the excess from your trade show marketing budget doesn’t necessarily have to reduce your visibility to a shadow of its former self. Through smart design, budget reallocation, outsourcing and automation, you can optimize your marketing and ad spend in a way that will establish more with less.
Trade shows are an opportunity to bring together industry professionals in an interactive, personable, and experiential setting to learn about new innovations, attend educational sessions, and expand your professional network. If you are a new exhibitor click here.
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