With a new season of events and expos around the corner I thought it was worth revisiting this blog, an old but a goodie as they say… oh and I couldn’t find an image to illustrate this post so here’s a nice photo of some autumnal berries to cheer you up!
Making a success of exhibitions & events
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when exhibiting at expos, trade fairs and the like is that they concentrate all of their efforts on the organisation of the event itself.
Of course you’ll need to make sure that you are fully prepared, that your stand looks great, that you have all of your promotional material in place. It’s important to check out the venue, get all of the relevant information from the organisers and have researched who else is exhibiting and, if a list is available, who might be attending as a visitor.
But what’s missing?
That’s right, it’s the follow up!
There is absolutely no point in spending time and money exhibiting at a show of any kind if you fail to follow up on the people that you met and the potential business and sales leads generated. It simply isn’t good enough to have a nice chat with someone and give them your brochure and then hope they’ll buy. Lots of purchasing decisions are not made on the day and few prospects will then beat their way to your door after an event and offer you a project or buy one of your products or services.
“It didn’t work for me”
So many times I have heard businesses say that such and such a show didn’t work for them and was a waste of time. Often about established exhibitions and events that clearly other companies ARE generating good business from, otherwise the events simply wouldn’t exist.
In my experience of working with clients on their marketing strategies, it’s mainly the attitude to follow up that separates those who make events a success and those who find that their efforts have come to nothing.
So what is effective follow up? Well, it’s different for every company but there are three crucial stages involved for most businesses;
Three things to remember
data capture on the day
Even on a busy exhibition stand there is no excuse for not trying to capture the contact information of potential customers. Always have a card or form people can fill in, use the lure of a competition or a free gift of some sort to encourage people to part with their details. Make sure you get people’s permission to add them to your mailing list, a simple tick box on the form will do.
Make those calls
After the show, follow up in person by telephone with people you know wanted to speak with you or you felt you had made a connection with. Do this as soon as possible as you can bet the more savvy of your competitors will be doing so. It’s tempting to just email but it’s very passive and easy to ignore. Pass on any useful information to them that you may have promised to do and call to see if you can send a proposal or arranging a meeting. If you generated a good number of contact details for potential clients and customers it is worth sending out a special email newsletter which gives more information and perhaps a promotional offer specifically to those people who attended the event.
Do some research
As well as adding prospects to your mailing list, find out if they are on social media such as twitter, facebook and linkedin and engage with them there when appropriate. Real prospects can also then be added to your CRM system so that you can start to keep track of the follow up from now on. If they’re not ready for the sale yet, you need to keep in contact and develop the relationship until they are.
Hopefully by making a follow up plan and carrying it out you’ll find that you get much more from the next event or show that you decide to exhibit at! Good luck!