Post Trade Show Evaluation & Follow-up

One of the most overlooked aspects of trade shows is following up on all leads obtained from the event in a timely manner and conducting a post show evaluation.  Follow up activities are where most trade show exhibitors fail for a couple of reasons.
  • You return to the office to find your inbox full of emails, your voicemail is overflowing and you need check on your current projects and sales.
  • There is an automatic assumption that all the people you met at the trade show will call you because you gave them a brouchure and they are certain to remember you.
No doubt, you will have some catch up to do after the trade show but the key to success is to prioritize your post trade show activities.  First, follow-up with all urgent issues immediately.  Second, deal with issues that have come up with existing clients while you were away.  Do not sacrifice existing clients for potential new clients.  Lastly, put all non-critical functions aside and start your trade show follow-up.
 
Follow-Up - Immediately!

Post-show planning includes a multiple contact plan.  Call the most serious prospects first.  You should follow-up with all your leads within 48 hours of the show by email or phone.  Continue to execute good prospecting and sales techniques to develop a professional relationship.
 
Email all booth attendees who provided contact information (regardless of whether they are good prospects or not)
  • Say "Thank You" for stopping by your booth
  • Extend the offer of the trade show
  • Offer your product/service solutions
With qualified prospects, still send an email, but also state that you will call to arrange a time to meet or discuss next steps.
 
Trade Show ROI
 
Your trade show follow-up process should be planned just as well as your pre-show planning.  Consider that each trade show lead has a cost, a cost you have already spent.  If you spend $5000 on your trade show and came away with 500 leads, then every lead cost you $10.  If on average you convert 25% of those leads, then each new customer cost you $50.  On the other hand, if you don't manage your trade show leads and 75% of them aren't followed up on quickly, your conversion can cost you four times as much.  $200??  That's expensive!
 
Categorize Trade Show Leads
 

If you've done the trade show properly, you should have notes about certain hot prospects...what they want, connections that you've made and important things to do.  Seperate these from the rest of the leads and start with these first.  If you have indeed made that connection at the trade show, you will likely be remembered the next day.  Something most trade show exhibitors forget is that not all leads can or should be followed-up in the same way.  Prioritize them.

What happens if a trade show reaps you too many leads?  That's a nice problem to have.  You still want to touch bas ewith them, to preserve as much business opportunities as possible.  Consider a post-show letter or email follow-up.  By using an integrated system like Word or Constant Contact, you can turn out a pretty nice "personalized" note to each of them.  You might tell the reader that you will be in contact in the next couple weeks, but if they need you before that to not hesitate to call.

Trade Show Evaluation

In addition to following up with leads obtained at your trade show, one of the most important post show activities is to conduct a post show analysis.  By answering some basic questions you will identify things that will help you when planning future events.  Some of the key questions to ask are:

  • What worked?
  • What didn't work?
  • Was the booth functional?
  • Was the booth in the right laocation?
  • Was this the right trade show for my business?
  • Did I meet the right people?
  • What did I learn from others?
  • What did I learn about the competition?
At some point you will be able to call the effect of the trade show complete and measure your results against your initial objectives.  This is when you have exhausted all leads and closed all the business that has resulted directly from the trade show itself.  If you kept good records of this activity, you should now be able to eveluate the effects of this particular show.  After all, if you are going to put this much work and money into anything, don't you want to make sure that it's worth it?

Although ROI is one of the ways to measure your success, you should always consider the other benefits as well.  These benefits can include establishing your brand, community awareness, educating the public and building new relationships and alliances with other companies.  You will have to do your own analysis on these non-monetary benefits.

How Much Business Did You Close?

What is the monetary benefit of the closed from your trade show?  You should measure in 1-month, 3-month, 6-month and 12-month increments when looking at the value of this business.  If you have made your investment back in new business in the first month, you've done reasonably well.  At the very least, you should have made your money back plus 50% by the end of three months.

The six and twelve month measurements are to dtermine the long range profitability of any given trade show.  At some point, you have to determine that you cannot participate in every trade showthat comes along.  Therefore, it is imperative that you determine over the long run, which trade shows give you the best performance that you can build your long term business goals on.