Attending a tradeshow is one thing, but creating a real return on investment is what separates tradeshow spectators from those who maximize the event

Business exhibition

Tradeshows present all businesses with the opportunity to connect with clients, prospects and industry contacts in a contained and efficient environment. But before attending a tradeshow, it is vital to consider several key factors. Is this the right show for your business? How have you prepared for this show? If you attend, will you drive in the right kind of business? These questions and many more form the foundation for maximizing ROI (return on investment) during your next tradeshow or large-scale industry event.

To shed light on some of the methods and best practices employed by successful tradeshow exhibitors, high-impact visual and custom display supplier MVP Visuals looked to the experts in the field. When it comes to maximizing ROI, here’s what they had to say:

“Stop ignoring the audience; engage with attendees”David Spark, founder of Spark Media Solutions.

While this facet of tradeshow management may seem simple and almost a little too obvious, Spark indicates that it is important to minimize looking at your phone, working at a computer, eating, or chatting with co-workers when at the booth. Since tradeshow attendees may feel naturally hesitant to start talking with you in the first place, work hard to remove any barriers that may position you as disinterested or unapproachable.

“Seek your targets and bring them to the booth” Barry Moltz, owner of Getting Small Business Unstuck and AM560 radio talk show host

Do you know who your target client is? Are you completely aware of what they need and how your business can provide the appropriate solution for their problems? If so great. If not, you may want to partner with a market research firm to help you uncover your ideal patron and then execute on this information. Once at the show, seek out these opportunities and don’t wait for them to come to you.

“Come equipped with a simple, non-threatening agreement”John Greathouse, partner at Rincon Venture Partners.

Few binding contracts are signed on the tradeshow floor, but a simple letter of intent (LOI) can help to convert prospects into customers. These agreements are generally non-binding and may include such benefits as special tradeshow prices for those willing to commit to a meeting. You can also create agreements that convert to binding contacts after a set period of time unless the client rescinds the offer within 30 or 60 days. The bottom line here is that positive ROI is much easier to attain when you weed out the tire kickers and find prospects who are willing to work with you.

Trade show attendees
photo credit: IAVM WHQ / Flickr

“Measure and Track KPIs Appropriately”Dan Scalco, founder and director of growth at Digitalux.

If you’re interested in maximizing ROI at a tradeshow, you have to understand the fundamental financial concepts related to the event. Scalco indicates that there are three main areas of focus that are critical when gearing up for the event: aligning the tradeshow strategy with the company’s vision, selecting the right show for the business and measuring KPIs properly. He goes on to recommend bringing in a third party market research firm to provide additional insights – preferably a firm that has tradeshow experience.

“Use back-end, nurture marketing”Gary Hennerberg, leading US marketing consultant and author of Crack the Customer Mind Code.

The idea with back-end, nurture marketing – in a tradeshow context, is to increase the number of prospects that are eventually converted into customers. Obviously, conducting a tradeshow event will cost a considerable amount of working capital and doubling the number of conversions effectively cuts per customer acquisition costs in half.

Hennerberg states that, “Nurture marketing is more than just making phone calls. It’s using an automated program that deploys emails and will enable you to systematically send follow-up letters or postcards. Social media can also be part of an automated nurture marketing system, too. It takes multiple steps and sometimes months, to convert a lead you paid a lot of money to acquire at a trade show.”

Maximizing ROI at a tradeshow takes a series of well-timed and calculated steps. For more information on creating added value for your business at your next event, read the complete post here.