What to do after the event: exhibition lead follow-up

What to do after the event: Exhibition lead follow-upThe next event is on the horizon, you’ve got the whole day planned out from staff placement to freebies to stall decorations. From event start to the very last second you have your booth meticulously planned with strategies in place for every lead-barring contingency. But what about after the curtain drops and the lights go out? Have you planned out what you’re actually going to do with the stack of leads? How to nurture them? When are you going to re-engage? What tools will you use? A plan for the post-show is as important as the show itself when it comes to securing some real exhibition ROI.

Why, why are we doing this?

So you’ve decided to exhibit at the event with guns-blazin’. But, even outlaws need a goal to give meaning to their pursuit - be it the vault, adversary or just simple mayhem. Turning event leads to sales is about setting goals for your post-event efforts. What should your goals look like? Well, as with all marketing goals, they should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. This will set the framework for your lead follow-up efforts.

Separate the men from the boys

Part of the pre-plan should involve deciding how you’re going to segment the leads for the follow-ups. The goal is to provide relevant and personalised communication after the event. Buyer profiles and buyer readiness are the key factors when deciding on the approach. An extra bit of pre-planning could be to include assignment of salespeople to each prospect that they engaged with in your lead tracking. This will ensure that the follow-up will be conducted by a familiar face and give it that personal touch.

Timing is everything

After the event is over you should have a plan for when you will follow-up. And that plan should have the words: ‘quickly’ or ‘very soon after’ or ‘Nike’. Your booth won’t be the only pony at the show, so as soon you as you’ve got your leads and segmented them accordingly - it’s time to reach in an outward trajectory.

Content is king

What you’re going to follow-up with is just as important as when. Again, the follow-up is to demonstrate to prospects that you have something of value and relevance to them. The trick here is to pre-plan, draft and approve all of your email offers for each segmented market. Use your planning time before the event to really think about what each group will value, how they’d like to be addressed and what you could offer to help them right now. And don’t forget to use all the usual tips and tricks of best-practice email marketing.

Pre-planning and creating different content contingent on certain criteria before the event even begins will ensure you are ready to capitalise on all those beautiful leads.

The right tools for the job

Good post-event lead nurturing and measurement relies on marketing automation software. This kind of software enables you to set up ‘what happens next’ scenarios. For example, ‘if prospect clicks this, then we offer that’. It means you can tailor your communication much more closely to your prospect’s needs.

You can still nurture leads without automation software, but your options are limited to creating drip-based blasts that don’t really take into account a prospect’s behaviour or their timing preferences in choosing their next stage. A drip campaign is most certainly better than nothing, and also streaks ahead of a one-off email. It’s just not quite as sophisticated or behaviourally triggered as nurturing through an automation tool. So pre-planning which tool to use can mean the difference between a one-off encounter and a sale.

Hector and Achilles

Sales and marketing. One of the most crucial steps in creating successful post-event campaigns, is ensuring marketing and sales agree on some ground rules. Not having an agreement on who does what and when results in misalignment, misunderstandings and ultimately valuable leads will fall through the cracks.

Key takeaways

Events are such a great way of getting an initial face-to-face interaction with the right people and coming across sales-ready leads. But, a plan focused only on the event itself is sure to miss out on huge opportunities. Don’t give them away to competitors. Make sure that you take the time to pre-plan your post-game to make the most out of your investment.

If you’re ready for an event and have your post-plan all sorted then consider exhibiting for CeBIT Australia 2017 (it’s not too late!).

CeBIT Australia: The ultimate guide to converting event leads to sales