Getting a return from industry event attendance, whether you have chosen to exhibit or merely attend is simple and comes down to one fundamental question. Why are you going? This has been a learning for our clients and Genoa Black ourselves over the years.
I have met many, many companies over the years who have, in their marketing and sales schedule the same list of industry events that occur on a regular basis. For many of them, attending events is a clear, measurable way of driving lead generation and customer connection and in that they are confident. According to research from Marketing Charts (2018), in the B2B setting, events help generate the most leads whilst research from Forrester (2018) found that event materials like presentations, keynotes and booth materials are found to be the second most important source of content for buyers.
For many, I suspect they have not inwardly challenged themselves sufficiently with the questions:
- Why are we doing it?
- What do we expect to happen as an outcome of investment in visiting or exhibiting at this event?
- What happened last year?
- What can we learn and get better at this year
The cost of attending events is enormous with companies investing nearly a quarter of their marketing budgets (on average) on live events according to Bizzabo’s Event Marketing Benchmarks and Trends Report (2019)
Exhibiting at an event needs to be well considered and well planned in terms of messaging, promotion, impact, engagement and follow up. And likewise even if you are just visiting, a lot can be achieved if you are clear and have mapped out who you are targeting, with what message, the tools you need to support you and the information you are trying to glean from the people you are talking to. All of these things cost money, time and not forgetting the opportunity cost of choosing to do something else with your resources instead.
Resourcing events is also underestimated. To do things properly (and doing things by halves will probably not lead to the success you are looking for), you need people to:
- Plan the strategy
- Liaise with event organisers
- Develop and coordinate marketing materials
- Support you from a marketing perspective to drive awareness pre and post event, and connect on the day
- Plan travel and logistics
- Attend events/man the stand
- Follow up properly and diligently on new connections made
Add it all up and you will be surprised at the cost to the business.
However, as long as you can answer the few, I hope helpful questions below, and plan a wrap up meeting to review success after the event, they can be an extremely powerful platform for lead generation and building brand awareness.
To get your ducks in a row, double check you are clear on the following:
- When we come back, how will we know the event was successful?
- Who, (specifically) are we going to talk to? Who is tagged in our team to talk to whom?
- What are they going to talk about, ask about, communicate?
- Have we allocated resource to support the framework areas above?
- Have we planned a budget for the full event plan to include everything above so we can measure return on its investment?
If you have any further ideas around approaching event ROI I would love to hear your thoughts.
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