Despite being in a technological era with instant communication available, exhibitions are still a fantastic opportunity for businesses of all sizes to generate new relationships & sales leads, enhance brand image and maintain relationships with current customers.
One of the ways the success of your exhibition can measured, is through ‘Return on Investment’ or ROI. The formula to work out ROI is the following:
ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment
As an example (£10,250 – £4,250) / £4,250 = a return on investment of 1.41 or 141%. Generally any positive return on investment is seen as a good thing as this means the business made their money back with some left over profit.
Tracking ROI can be difficult as different businesses have different sales processes. Businesses that are selling directly at the trade show will be able to work out their ROI as soon as the event is over, whilst businesses that collect leads can have sales processes that are weeks, months or even years long. This means they have to wait a long time to discover if the event was even successful.
Here are a few of our top tips that we have at XL Displays on maximising your return on investment at your next exhibition.
One of the easiest ways to boost your event ROI is to ensure that people know you’re attending upcoming events. If your customers are kept informed and know you are attending an event close to them, there is a good chance they’ll show up to see what you have to offer.
One step further with email marketing is actually inviting existing customers and prospects to visit you at your exhibition stand. Arranging meetings with these clients can increases the chances that they will convert to a sale, in turn boosting your ROI.
It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan for clients that are interested but are unable to attend. This can be inviting them to a future event that they may be able to attend instead or inviting them to your office to meet with them.
In a similar fashion to email – social media is a fantastic tool to ensure people know you are attending an event and what you will be exhibiting. Social media can be used to reach potential customers in your target market that may not know about you.
We recommend setting up a hashtag that’s specific to yourselves and the event you are attending. This hashtag allows people to search and see other related posts and helps to boost your post reach. The event organisers will most likely have an official hashtag, be sure to include this in your social posts.
Blog Posts & Articles
Writing a blog post prior to the event can help to boost your ROI as more people know that you are attending. Do something interesting with the blog post that you may not normally do, such as a video interview with some of the staff that will be working at your exhibition stand.
It can also be a good idea to write a guest post about the event for a relevant industry business. This will help to boost your exposure, and more people will know you are attending. In return you could feature a guest post of theirs on your website.
Marketing During the Event:
Your social media channels should continue to be active throughout the event. To ensure this runs smoothly alongside the management of your event, you should create a well thought out content schedule before-hand to save time.
It is important to monitor engagement from attendees as well as what’s being posted using your hashtag or the event organiser’s hashtag. Sharing, liking and following people that are engaging with you is a good way to boost your social media reach and in turn your event ROI. A few of our favourite tools to monitor engagement in real time are HootSuite and Buffer.
The design and functionality of your exhibition stand can have a big impact on your return on investment. Your stand should be engaging and impactful, creating a good first impression.
Including interactive technology in your exhibition stand can create a more engaging experience for attendees. For example, an iPad stand that’s locked to your website or a game for a competition can attract new attendees.
Running a competition, giveaway or draw can bring in attendees that wouldn’t normally have visited your stand. It’s your job once they’re there to give them a reason to stay and keep them engaged.
When following up on the leads you’ve collected, communicating in a more personal manner will usually be more effective. Use the individuals name or their company name in communication and incorporate information you learned about the recipient during the event in the communication. This more personal touch will increase the chances of conversion, maximising your ROI.
Debrief Your Team
Debriefing your team is important after any event. The debrief should happen as soon as possible after the event as details will still be fresh in your employees minds. A few topics you may wish to discuss in your debrief include:
- What worked and what didn’t?
- What could be improved upon next time?
- Did we stay within our allocated budget?
- Did we have enough/too little staff to manage the stand?
- Did we meet our targets?
Determining How to Follow Up and Following Up
Determining how to follow up should be done before the event even happens, so you have a plan in place. Some of the most popular ways to follow up with clients includes email, phone calls, direct mail and even social media.