Managing ROI with Trade Shows and Conferences

If you manage marketing in the B2B world, it’s almost impossible to escape responsibility for spearheading your company’s participation in industry events. And if your CEO is a stickler for ROI (and most B2B CEOs are), you’re probably tired of justifying the high cost of attendance. …particularly when the only thing you have to show for your investment is a stack of dog-eared business cards and a pile of bar receipts.

The key to finding ROI with trade shows and conferences, as with anything else, is to maximize “R” and minimize “I.”

Most of us have learned dozens of ways to lower the “I,” including:

  • Weed out freeloaders by requiring every attendee to spend a few hours in the booth (or to present as one of the featured speakers)
  • Replace the fountain of tchotchkes with a single-prize drawing
  • Invite customers and prospects to invitation-only lunch-and-learns, instead of lavish dinners
  • and so on…

But here’s a simple, three-step strategy that’s proven to maximize the “R.” Baby Boomers might want to think of it as the Dr Pepper strategy:

  1. Craft 10 open-ended questions that attendees can use to engage customers and prospects at the show. Require everyone who represents you to memorize all ten questions. Then limit conversations in the booth to these ten questions (and their logical follow-up questions).
  2. Mandate that each employee in attendance return with 2 new, qualified leads – where “qualified” is defined as “the prospect has identified a specific set of needs that your organization can address.” Make sure everyone understands that you will call each new lead personally, to confirm the specific need your rep has uncovered.
  3. Write 4 talking points that attendees are required to cover with anyone who visits the booth. Listen in on their conversations at the event. If they go astray, pull them aside and let them know.

It’s amazing how much more you’ll get out of every event, with this simple strategy.

That’s Dr Pepper: 10, 2 and 4. Refreshing, isn’t it?