When we last left our marketing heroes and heroines they were wrapping up activities at their latest trade show. Now they’re back home and ready to capitalize on all they’ve done, created, learned, collected and committed to. So, where does one begin?
Let’s start with the primary mission of any marketing effort: building one’s brand. By setting goals around one’s branding efforts prior to participating in events, it’s possible to track the effectiveness of one’s efforts, to see what worked and what didn’t. So, what were your branding goals? Did you set up metrics by which you would be able to measure success or failure? How did you do? What could you have done better and what will you attempt to do next time? How did your event efforts tie into your overall marketing strategy?
Perhaps you announced a contest prior to the event. If so, what was the impact? How many participants did you have? How many of them are new followers or customers vs. previously loyal followers or customers? How many people did the newbies or loyalists tell, and how many of those became followers or customers? Were you able to convert the new followers into buyers as a result of the contest? What have you put in place to track the new leads and their sources from future programs? What’s your process for welcoming additional newbies and converting them? What’s your process for staying in touch with your current and future followers and/or customers, those you worked so diligently to attract? How will you encourage and assist them in spreading the word about your amazing offering? How will you track the success of such efforts?
The Flow of the Show
Next, what have you learned from your time on the trade show floor? What worked and what didn’t in terms of: booth set-up and tear-down, traffic flow, staffing, processes, collateral, supplies, marketing initiatives at the event, etc.?
Beginning with the day you set up your booth, what went smoothly and what could use improvement? Were you missing any vital supplies, services? Did your staffing plan enable quick and stress-free set-up and tear-down?
Once you were set up and the show floor doors opened, were visitors able to easily locate your booth and, even more importantly, peruse your offering, gather the information they sought and place orders? Did you hear any complaints about your location or a visitor’s ability to locate you? Was there any point at which visitors could not easily view your booth and offering? Were you ever short-handed, requiring visitors to wait for assistance? Or, did your staff consistently outnumber your booth’s visitors? What questions came up and were you able to provide the answers being sought? If not, have those answers been procured, documented and communicated so they’re available in the future? Was your staffing sufficient to handle the traffic and all questions and requests? Were all staffers comfortable with their roles and able to provide the level of service you intended?
Did you offer make-and-takes? What went well during the process and what didn’t? Did you receive any feedback from those who participated, or from those who were not able to due to time or space constraints or other factors within your control? Did you provide sample products or tear sheets to customers for their stores? If so, have you received any feedback on their effectiveness? Do you have an online offering of resources that your customers can call upon to help them in educating their designers, trainers and customers? Do you have plans in place for offering your customers more make-and-take or sample creation opportunities in the future?
Prior to the event, did you have plans in place for networking with your peers at the show? How did that effort pan out? Did you discover opportunities once at the show? Have you followed up with those with whom you met at the event, and even more importantly, those who you were not able to connect with, to see how you can work together for the benefit of both your business and theirs? Have you made progress in ticking off to-do’s from your event meetings? Did you discover opportunities for partnering and/or cross-selling, and have you created action items in order to bring them to reality? What are your next steps?
Did you execute on a plan for researching your competitors while at the show? Did you discover competitors you didn’t know about previously? Were you able to learn anything new about your competitors and devise ways to more effectively compete? If so, do you have plans in place to leverage what you learned? What do you think your competitors might have learned about you at the show? What can you do to make it harder for your competitors to compete on equal footing? Based on what you might have heard from booth visitors, what could you have done to more effectively stand out from your competition? What unique selling propositions do you possess and how can you best communicate them to potential and current customers?
Did you provide press kits for members of the press? Did you receive any inquiries based on your kit? Have you followed up to make sure all interested press contacts have what they need in order to include you in future stories? Have you requested the event press list from the show’s producers and followed up with those who might have missed out on your story? Were there opportunities for members of the press to meet with you at the event? If you met with press, have you followed up on opportunities and/or to provide anything committed to or requested? Did you have press visitors at your booth? If so, did you make a good impression – why or why not? Have you fulfilled any commitments made at your booth? How have you maintained contact with those press contacts who expressed interest in your offering? How will you leverage your new and former press contacts to build your brand?
Ca-Ching! Cash is King
Did you meet your sales goals? If so, have you applauded all those responsible and taken time to celebrate? And, will you increase your goals for the future? If you didn’t meet your goals, what have you learned from the experience? Were your goals realistic or not? What training could you offer your sales staff, and what other ideas could you implement, to ensure better results next time? Have you spoken to your staff to garner their impressions from the event, and most importantly, to work together to ensure your future results meet expectations?
Ever the Student
Did you attend any workshops or seminars? If so, what did you learn that you can immediately put into action to increase brand awareness and sales? What can you add to your long-range planning to ensure you are making the most of your newfound knowledge? Have you shared your newfound knowledge with others in your organization so that all may benefit?
Have you followed up on all commitments made: making intros between industry contacts as promised; providing the press with whatever they might need to ensure solid ongoing relationships and coverage; providing answers to questions asked by booth visitors and or customers; sending samples to those who requested them; fulfilling orders placed; etc.?
A Final Evaluation
Lastly, have you created a post-mortem of the event and shared this with everyone involved? Have you created and shared new processes, to-do lists, checklists, training or staffing requirements? Have you added to your supply collection? Have you kept track of all questions asked at the event and created an FAQ for all future show personnel to refer to and learn from? Have you added these to your website FAQ (where appropriate for public viewing)?
For a sample list of post-event to-do’s, please check out the list I have created for you at:
Yes, the list of post-show activities can seem overwhelming, especially at a time when you and your staff are likely just trying to recover from the many long hours and travel. But, striking while the iron’s hot is critical to success both now and in the future. Believe me, you’ll stand out from the crowd if you always follow up in a timely manner and honor your commitments. Most importantly, you’ll improve on your future event results if you keep track of what you learn and apply that knowledge to your future efforts.