In our last blog, How Attendees can Maximize ROI from your Next Trade Show Visit: Preparation, we discussed how proper preparation can help you gain value from attending a trade show—even if you don’t have a booth. In part two of this blog series, we wanted to discuss how to properly utilize that preparation to get the most out of the experience, both while you’re at the show and afterwards.
How Attendees Can Maximize Trade Show ROI: During the Show
This is the time to take all of your preparation into account. Think about the goals you set before the show: how are you going to make sure you achieve them?
If you’re attending the show to learn more about your industry (or your prospects’ industry), act like it! There is so much to learn at a trade show. Go see important talks to learn what’s up and coming, talk to vendors to learn about their products, services, and the challenges they’re facing. Everyone at the show will have their own perspective, so have as many valuable conversations as you can and listen.
Are you at the show to make connections? You should have already created a list of the most important people and companies to talk to; this prioritization is vital because it will help you plan your time. When you know who your highest priority is, you won’t get distracted talking to every low priority company and miss your chance to have a valuable conversation. If you scheduled time to meet with certain people in advance, don’t keep them waiting.
Remember your 30-second pitch and most important talking points, especially if you are stopping at booths without prior scheduling. Remember: companies are there to sell. Why should they listen to you? Take part in active conversations by asking people about their company, their product, and their pain points. No one wants to have a conversation that’s all about you.
Lastly, write everything down. You may think your mind is a steel trap, but at the end of a long day of talking to people you’ll be thankful to have a full notebook, not an empty brain. Your notes will help you to remember who you spoke to, what you talked about, and how to contact them. And when offered, take their business cards; it will make it easier for you to follow up with them later. If you have a great conversation with someone and walk away without a way to contact them, you’ve just wasted your time (and theirs).
If you attend a trade show and don’t post about it on Twitter, did it really happen? As far as your prospects are concerned, no, it didn’t. You should have come up with a social strategy before attending the event, so put it to good use. A speaker says something interesting and insightful? Tweet it. You take a picture of an outstanding booth? Put it on Instagram. You get a great video of the crowd? Put it on social—or better yet, stream it live. Most trade shows have a specific hashtag, so put it to use to better maximize trade show ROI!
Of course, the social tactics you use will depend on your brand and on the social platforms your prospects use, but your ultimate goal should be to make your presence known.
A note: if you use SnapChat, Instagram stories, or other social platforms where the content disappears after a certain amount of time, download your pictures and videos to your mobile device. You can use these later for content – but only if they still exist the next day.
How Attendees Can Maximize Trade Show ROI: After the Show
We get it: trade shows are exhausting. But if you return from the show and drop everything, you are doing it wrong. There’s no point in talking to people all day long and developing new insights if you don’t do anything with them. It’s time to take what you’ve learned and make it work for you.
Maximize Trade Show ROI: Organize Contacts
You probably talked to a lot of people throughout the day. Don’t lose track of these new contacts. Add them to your CRM as soon as you can so you can. Then, take the time to prioritize your contacts. Are any of them ideal fit customers for your business? These are the ones you should reach out to first.
The sooner you reach out, the better. If you follow up with a contact several weeks after meeting them, chances are they won’t remember you! Reach out to high-priority leads first. These are the people you really want to remember you, so make sure you contact them right away. Show them that you valued their time and you want to keep the conversation going.
Use social media and email. Follow your contacts and their companies on social media. You can also send emails or reach out to them on platforms like LinkedIn to start a new conversation. Remember to personalize your messages. You may have a template for your first contact with these leads, but add personal elements. Use their name and include details from your conversation. Phrases like “I enjoyed our conversation about…”, “I recall you saying you often struggle with…”, or “Here is that resource I mentioned…” will help your contact to see that you care about them and their struggles—and that you remember them!
Keep the party going by creating content based on your experience. Are there new industry insights that you can blog about? If you took pictures and video clips, combine them into a video to show that you were there, and include great quotes you heard or the top things you learned to add value.
Hopefully, you learned a lot from the show. Think about it: what content can come out of the things you learned? How did the experience shape your understanding of your prospects and their challenges, and how can you create content that speaks to your new understanding? Be creative with the content you come up with!
What Happens Next Time?
Going to a trade show as an attendee is a great way to maximize trade show ROI without actually investing in a booth, but what if you want to step it up in the future? If you’ve done the legwork and can prove that you got real value out of your attendance, it may be easier to convince your company that it’s worth it to attend as a vendor next year.
Attending an event as a vendor comes with its own challenges. We recommend working with a company like AccessTCA, which specializes in face-to-face marketing. When you invest the time and effort necessary into preparing for your next show, it’s sure to be a hit.
Want to learn more ways to maximize trade show ROI and lead generation? Download our guide to the greatest B2B lead generation tips, tricks, and ideas!