Trade Show Planning and Exhibiting Best Practices – Part 2

By Stefanie Calello

In a previous post about pre-conference planning, we discussed best practices that will help avoid any mishaps before or during the events you take part in. Post-conference procedures are essential for the coordinator of events to have in place as well. Without these procedures, there will be no efficient way to determine if each event was of any benefit to your company. Prospective client follow ups, executive summaries, and expense reports are three important areas to focus on at the close of conferences. These areas will provide you with insight into what kind of return on investment (ROI) you can expect from each event.

Prospective Client Follow Up
Initiating a business relationship begins during the event, where your team should have collected business cards from as many prospective clients as possible. After your team has conversations with these individuals, you need to make sure they make it a habit to always add a few key points to the back of the card so that the person following up knows exactly what the prospective client is looking for.  Effective notes can make the difference between a great initial call and a lost opportunity.

To be certain leads are followed up with after the event, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Add contacts, companies, and any associated notes to your CRM application
  • Assign the prospects to the appropriate sales representative
  • Ensure new prospects are added to your standard marketing email list; this will include them on future targeted email campaigns
  • Develop an email template and voicemail track for the sales team to use if they are unable to connect with the prospect
  • Run a report in CRM a week after the event to ensure all leads have been followed up with

Executive Summary
When your attendees arrive back at the office, it is important for them to produce a summary of the event that encompasses:

  • Attendance numbers and demographics
  • Potential business opportunities
  • Competitor information
  • Visibility of your brand garnished through advertisements, sponsorships, and other areas during the event
  • Traffic flow to your booth space

You’ll also want the team to note what could be done differently in the future, or action items for different departments in the company. It is crucial for your team to determine whether or not the show was beneficial to the business and will be a recurring opportunity that is taken advantage of each year. Creating this type of summary gives you a great snapshot view of the effectiveness of each conference from an ROI and event planning perspective.

Expense Reports
An expense report helps your team document the expenses that were incurred during the event. These reports should be completed within the first week back at the office so that the total costs of the show can be recognized. Expense reports also help with budgeting for travel the following year.

Calculating ROI of an Event
To calculate the ROI of an event, use the following formula:

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You’ll want to calculate your total revenue from the event after your average sales cycle time (i.e. if your sales cycle typically takes between one and three months, it should be calculated after three months). Once you put the formula to use, you’ll be able to easily figure out whether this will be a recurring opportunity you take advantage of, or if you drop it from your event calendar.

With these best practices in mind, you should have a much easier time executing each trade show from start to finish and determining the value of these events to your business. If you know of additional best practices to aid in the event planning process, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.

About Stefanie Calello:
Stefanie is a Marketing Specialist at SaaShr responsible for executing marketing programs, predominantly associated with tradeshows and conferences along with other Marketing and Public Relations initiatives.

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