Almost all marketers collect sales leads at their company’s trade shows, but according to Exhibitor, only 47% of organizations track those leads as they progress through the sales cycle. Most leads don’t receive any sort of post-show follow-up. So that begs the question, what exactly happens to the trade show leads you’ve invested in generating?
Post-show marketing plans should be in place long before the event begins. The trade show isn’t over when tear down starts. Even if your staff are eager to get home and back into their everyday roles, a trade show marketing plan needs more time to maximize your return.
First, qualify the leads collected. This can be done inside the booth or immediately following the event by looking at title, company vertical, company size, intent to purchase and any notes from your booth staff. Be sure to include a rating or other priority level when the leads are added to your customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Don’t forget to mark the lead source as the specific trade show, so you can continue to measure conversions and compare event results. Your follow-up plan may vary based on the lead score. Other segments can be applied in order to fully customize the follow-ups.
Sales v. Marketing
Decide who is responsible for the follow-up outreach. Some organizations rely on marketing to nurture the trade show leads until they meet a certain engagement level. Other organizations depend on the direct relationship-building skills of sales teams to handle post-show outreach. Other sales and marketing teams collaborate in an aligned plan, whereas marketing provides some automated content and sales adds a personalized touch. Allocate your resources accordingly based on your organization. Be clear about what team is responsible for which part of the follow-up plan.
Be sincere and creative in your follow-up content. They met you face-to-face, so keep that warm, human style in your post-show content. Many trade show leads may need more nurturing before they’re ready to buy. Have your content created and scheduled for easy distribution.
A few top-level ideas include:
- Showcase photos of your trade show display and experience to remind leads who you are
- Personalized phone calls that incorporate and extend on in-booth discussions
- Series of marketing emails which are designed to elaborate on the in-booth messaging or experience
- Direct mailers with interactive content to keep leads engaged
- Downloadable educational content to better inform
- Videos from recognizable trade show staff to continue in-booth conversations
- Videos, podcasts, articles, case studies and testimonials to move the leads through the sales funnel
- Post-show special offer or giveaway promotion
Once the lead has met an engagement goal, switch to more hard-hitting sales messages.
Once you have the follow-up content plan, make it easy to implement. Your outreach should include a variety of channels, such as phone calls, emails and LinkedIn messages. A direct mail piece or another face-to-face, when applicable, will strengthen your overall approach.
Trade show exhibitors who do follow up with leads tend to do so within 3-5 days of the show. Strike when the iron is hot, as they say, and start following up as quickly as you can after the show. A good follow-up plan has multiple touchpoints. Plan enough nurturing content for 6-10 touches post-show.
While your post-show marketing may start immediately after the event ends, your sales cycle may be longer to influence. Determine conversion points and measure success against those conversions within 3 months, 6 months and a year following an event. Trade shows give potential customers a chance to interact with your brand and products, but not every trade show lead is ready to buy. Give your entire trade show marketing plan the time it needs to generate, nurture and convert your new leads.
At the end of the convention, your post-show marketing is just beginning. Your trade show leads are warm. Maximize your follow-ups, which will save you time and money in hitting new business development goals company-wide. Don’t let those leads fall into the abyss.