Attending or exhibiting at an expo, tradeshow, conference, or other business event is a great tactic for generating business. The likelihood of coming across an ideal client, or several of them, at the right event is very high. It can also give your brand, products, and services high-level exposure to a concentrated industry and audience. While all of this can be true, unfortunately there are common missteps and missed opportunities that can prevent a company from receiving the maximum benefit from its investment.
For your next tradeshow, follow these 10 best practices for before, during, and after a tradeshow to get the most out of your investment.
- Define your Goals
What is the purpose of attending this tradeshow? Define your tangible and intangible goals. While tangible goals of securing a certain number of quality leads or reaching a certain number of sales dollars from tradeshow leads are quantitative and may carry more weight in the decision-making process, don’t ignore intangible goals. Goals like raising higher awareness of your brand and products or competitive advantage can be strong reasons to attend a show. Though more difficult to measure, these intangible goals can be just as important. Defining your goals at the start will help you understand if you should invest in a tradeshow and if so, how to prove your success once it’s completed.
2. Prepare your CRM
Make sure your Zoho CRM is prepped to receive the data you want to capture. With the Zoho Card Scanner and the Zoho CRM apps, capturing leads can be fast and efficient during the tradeshow, but only if you’ve prepped your CRM.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have defined the fields you want to capture in Leads (Full Contact Name, Email, Lead Source, Title, Organization, Phone, etc.) and map them to the other modules in your CRM for easy conversions later on.
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Let your existing audience know you are attending. This can be done across your website, emails, and social media channels. If the tradeshow has a hashtag, use it to connect with others attending the tradeshow.
You may have access to an attendee list from the tradeshow organizer. Starting communication early with these leads can help you make the most out of your time at the tradeshow, especially if one of your tangible goals is to book a certain number of face-to-face meetings.
Example of one of our Clients’ Husco on sharing tradeshow news well ahead of the event.
4. Have the Right Apps
Prepare your phone by downloading the following apps:
- Zoho Card Scanner app
- Zoho CRM app
- Messaging apps for team communication. Especially important if you lose network connection and need to rely only on wifi. A few examples: WhatApp, WeChat, Cliq (from Zoho)
- Social media apps – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter
- The Tradeshow/conference App if it exists
We recommend you do this ahead of the tradeshow to make sure you have the storage space and data to really optimize your phone as a tool during the event.
5. Networking mindset
Know your talking points ahead of time. Whether you are exhibiting or walking the show, make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to share about your company and what you want to learn about your leads. Defining this can ensure you and your team are on the same page. Top it off with any marketing materials you wish to share and plenty of business cards.
When networking, capture lead data in real time using the Business Card Scanner app to Scan those precious Business Cards and take any notes on Zoho CRM.
The upload of the Business Card is immediate, and you can add your notes to the Lead instantly.
Pro Tip in Zoho CRM:
- Scan Business Cards immediately after talking to the person
- Add as a Lead to your CRM
- Add notes to follow-up
6. Use your Phone
Use your phone to update your team, capture leads in your Zoho CRM app, and keep everyone on schedule. Your phone is also a helpful tool for taking pictures and remembering details of the event. You can check your agenda and your colleagues in real time when using Zoho CRM.
Most tradeshows will have a map of the exhibit hall which can help you and your team divide and conquer. Keep your goals in mind and always refer back to them with your team.
If you plan to book meetings with any leads during the tradeshow, make a few reservations at close by restaurants and block out time to be able to hold these meetings.
7. Go Social
That’s right, keep communicating, especially on social media.
It’s free and nearly everyone is on it. Take pictures, video, write a post, tag a keynote speaker, us the event #hashtag. These are all great ways to keep your audience engaged with your activities and continue to connect with more people within the tradeshow network.
You can also take the time to connect directly on LinkedIn with individuals or follow companies that sparked your interest.
8. Follow-up, Qualify & Convert your Leads
Follow up is essential to turn those Leads into Potential Customers.
Build your email templates and define your follow-up process for your leads. Are you sending a drip campaign, an eblast with a special offer, or following up one by one? It’s important to have a plan in place as this type of communication after a tradeshow can be critical to securing the next step in the buying process.
Zoho CRM offers many ways to make follow-up efficient and effective with workflows, templates, tasks, and mass emailing capabilities. For large email distribution at any given time, we recommend using Zoho Campaigns, but the majority of your follow-up can take place through the CRM.
Any “hot” leads you’ve captured, treat as priority. Then go through and qualify and convert all of your new leads.
Pro Tip in Zoho CRM:
- Hot Lead: Convert to Potential right away
- Warm Lead: Convert to Accounts & Contacts
- Cold/Junk Lead: Mark Lead Status as “Junk”
9. Celebrate (& Communicate…once more!)
Tradeshows can be exhausting and overwhelming, but you did it, so take a moment to acknowledge that!
If you did not get a chance to connect with people on LinkedIn, now is a great time to do that while the event is still fresh.
You may also want to use this as an opportunity to write a blog post for your website and social media. This can be a great way to thoughtfully share what you learned AND update your audience at the same time. On social media, don’t be afraid to share photos and tag new connections and brands/organizations you engaged with.
10. Prove Value
Go back and look at your goals and determine if you met them. Debrief with your team. Share your discoveries and excitement for what you learned and offer any advice or insight for future events.
Consider budget vs real costs.
You can utilize the Zoho CRM Campaigns Module to help track ROI of any event or campaign you run. This can be helpful if you are in an industry where the sales process takes several months. Add your Campaign, define type as “Trade Show” and track real vs budgeted cost, and any potentials that are linked to the tradeshow in future Proposals/Quotes.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into planning, attending, and following-up with a tradeshow or event. Stick to these key best practices to help you strategically prepare for upcoming tradeshows, and your investment will be worth it.
Are you Planning to Attend or showcase your Products or Services at a Tradeshow? Download here our guide for Tradeshow Planning Free Marketing Tool Library.