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How NOT to waste money on Tradeshows (Part Three)

So, you have attended an event. Hopefully, you got a lot of leads and lots of good discussions with prospects and maybe even existing customers.

But for marketing, the event is far from over. What still lies ahead is the process of keeping the leads warm, ensuring that sales takes appropriate action and keeping you CRM up-to-date so that you can accurately track the Return Of Marketing Investment (ROMI) that the event generated.

This is the third and final article in my series on “how not to waste money on tradeshows”. This article focuses on what needs to happen after the event to maximise the ROMI. To read the previous articles (why tradeshows may not be right for you) and (executing the tradeshow) click the corresponding link.

I think many marketers will agree that all too often, leads generated at an event are quickly forgotten by sales, or not followed up properly. The fact is, that sales people are busy and often driven by the commission they get for closing deals. This is totally understandable, but it means that following up on leads that seem less likely to close, or that are less attractive may not be prioritised properly.

For this reason, marketing cannot let go of leads before much later in the process. Luckily, a lot of the lead nurturing can be automated.

The work starts at the event itself

The work starts at the event itself. Your team working your booth will hopefully have collected business cards from all the prospects they spoke to – or maybe you ran a competition that required people to give up their contact information.

In any case, you should now have the contact information for a lot of potential customers that you can start working on.

These names should be entered into your CRM system immediately. If you received business cards, use one of the many Smartphone applications that scan business cards and automatically export them into your CRM system.

If you have been clever when setting up your CRM system, then it will likely integrate with your email system. That means that you can automatically email those prospects that you got the business cards from.

Make it personal

The ideal process will see you scanning the business cards into your CRM system using a Smartphone (no reason to do this manually). From there they are (depending on which CRM you use) added to the relevant campaign or tagged with the relevant keywords that will enable you to identify and track the success of the event.

Immediately following the event, all leads should receive a personal email from the sales guy as a follow-up. Again, even though it should look like a personal note, there is no reason for it not to be automated. Simply email a “Thank you for your time” note, or a “You entered our competition” note with what looks like your sales guys auto signature directly from your email system, and you have ensured that you are not one of the many companies that people speak to at events, but they never remember when they get back home.

This email – while it may look personal – is obviously the same that goes out to everybody – and it is the first in a long line of emails that they will receive over time. Again, fully automated, using autoresponders.  Autoresponders are great, as they allow you to write an email once, and then reuse it as part of an email chain. I.e. , in this example, you will most likely have written a number of emails in advance, that walks your prospects through each (or some) of your products. One product(category) per email. Then these emails are automatically sent out in a fixed time interval – for instance, one email every two weeks or so.

As all this is done from your email system – and you have already linked it to your CRM system, it is possible for you (and your sales team) to see exactly (directly from the CRM system) what emails have each prospect received, read and clicked on.  Done right, over time, these ‘per person stats’ will tell you exactly which of the prospects are the most interested in what you are selling, and what they are interested in.

And obviously, the prospects will remember you as they continuously receive timely and interesting information from you – and the occasional call from sales (who now obviously know exactly what to talk to the prospect about).

Calculating the ROMI

From the outset, you should already have calculated the total cost of the event. Participation, stand, pre-show promotion, food, travel, merchandise, sales reps time, etc.etc.  This amount is crucial to have when calculating whether the event was worth the investment.

Needless to say, keeping everything in the CRM system, and all prospects tagged with the correct campaign code – will enable you to track the success of the event, come budgeting time. The total cost should also be associated with this campaign code.

If all has been done correctly, then calculating the ROMI will be a simple matter of looking up the campaign in your CRM system. Gone are the days when you were dependent of the gut-feal of the sales team or the impressive marketing material from the event organiser. Now, you have concrete numbers to back up your decision as to whether to do this event again in the future.

And, depending on your required ROMI, you may find that actually, events are maybe not the best place to put your marketing money.


While this refers to leads generated from events, it can be replicated to any sort of leads and should really be incorporated into any marketing follow-up

This was the third and final article on tradeshows. If you haven’t already read the previous two, then head over to the articles (why tradeshows may not be right for you) and (executing the tradeshow) now.

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GrumpyCMO is where I air my thoughts on marketing. I'm Bo Ekkelund, and I have been in the marketing field for more than 15 years. The blog is called GrumpyCMO, as I call it as I see it. I see a lot of hype in marketing and I see a lot of very basic mistakes being made in marketing and this is where I tell the world about it. Oh, and I also air my thoughts on marketing strategy, marketing's place in the organization and the changing challenges of CMO's. Some of the articles on this site have also been published on other sites, such as Marketcommunity and LinkedIn.