How to maximise leads from an exhibition
An exhibition is not only an excellent lead generator, but also a great way to meet prospects and interact with your target demographic. For me, an exhibition is a reminder that marketing is all about people.
And, regardless of whether you are attending a local or national exhibition, you want to be confident that you are maximising every opportunity before, during and after the event…
Before the exhibition
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and this is fundamentally true of everything we do in business – events and exhibitions are no different.
You need to go to the event with clear objectives in your mind. For example, if you are attending as an exhibitor, write down how many leads you want to gain and make sure everyone involved knows what the target is.
Openly discuss tactics and clearly define what constitutes a successful lead and how to record them.
Stand out from the rest
Your stand needs to be distinct. But don’t focus solely on design, give people a reason to visit you – use competitions, games or free merchandise. They may sound old-fashioned but they have been tried and tested to work. Good games are really popular, they bring out people’s competitive streak and promote conversations about the score over coffee through the day.
Hand pick your team
This may sound a little strange at first because you might think your normal marketing or sales team will be good to go. But you need consider whether or not they will be comfortable being proactive in a face-to-face business environment. At MarketMakers, we have a team of excellent telemarketers who are all confident on the phone (as you would expect); however, not all of them are so comfortable speaking with prospects face-to-face.
Promote your attendance
Use your marketing channels to let your prospects and existing clients know you are attending the event ASAP. Social media is a great way to get pre-event visibility and most will run their own hash tags etc.
Prospects could be close to signing up and a simple conversation in person could sway their decision in your favour, especially if you’re able to answer any lingering questions they might have.
It is also a great opportunity to re-connect with existing clients in a neutral environment and get feedback that you may not always get to hear.
During the exhibition
Check out who else is around you
Know who your neighbours are, even if they are not in the same sector as you. It will give you some idea of who they may have spoken to before you, providing insight into what solutions they might be looking for.
Keep your area clear and tidy
Just like your regular business surroundings, keep your “shop front” clean and tidy at all times. You are potentially generating hundreds of first impressions every hour; make them count.
You want prospects to be tripping over themselves to talk to you. Not tripping over becauseof you.
Initiate dialogues with passers-by. Don’t leave it to chance that they will come over and say ‘hi’ – you could be the solution they need but didn’t know existed.
Keep promoting your presence
Constantly update your social media channels with photos and updates. Remember: use the event’s hash tags – this will be the prime time to get in on the social action.
Speaker slots at events present great opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and relevance to a large and captive audience. Those who attend your talk will most likely be in your target market and, through attending, have self-qualified themselves as a prospect.
If your talk goes down well then it is likely audience members will come and find you afterwards, so make sure to include contact details and your stand location.
2 or 3 days of exhibiting can be hard work, especially on the feet. So make sure you and your team stay motivated. To help, you can include little challenges and goals throughout the event to keep it fun.
Regularly check where you are against your targets and let your team know so they can work towards hitting those goals.
Submit all leads straight away
This may sound basic but it is an easy mistake to make, especially if you get busy. Take the time to get all your leads down on paper or in the database quickly and efficiently. You have to be disciplined about this or you could lose potential opportunities.
Remember to include a way to rate your leads, so in the post-event follow ups you can quickly identify who your hottest leads and best opportunities are.
Use the lead capture gun
If the event offers lead capture guns or a pass scanning device to get attendees’ data quickly and easily then use them. They are quick, simple and non-intrusive – even the coldest leads generally don’t object to be scanned.
After the exhibition
Have a team debrief
Get your team together to go over your experiences. Ask about what they found worked, the approaches they used and so on. Don’t treat it as any different to any other sales or marketing team meeting: share knowledge and learn from it.
Put together a ‘lessons learnt’ document
Make sure you document all the takeaways for future reference. If you do not do events very often it is all too easy to forget what was learnt at the last one. If you are a regular exhibition attendee it could become critical in your planning as you move from one event to the next.
Ensure data is in your CRM
Again it may seem like a logical step, but if you are using a CRM make sure everything is correctly uploaded to it. If you don’t have CRM at this point it is worth looking into because it will make using and managing your hard-earned leads a lot easier.
Phone all leads
Don’t wait or delay, start calling those leads straight away – the longer you leave them, the more likely it is that someone else they spoke to is having that conversation. Start with the hottest leads first and work from there.
Follow up again
Develop a follow up system for those leads who didn’t convert. You need to make sure you’re confident that you and your team did all they could to maximise the sales opportunities and achieve the most ROI from the event.