This is going to be my shortest article ever. (Phew!)
When you have been to a B2B event – with marketing or sales in mind – it can be a success, a failure, or (most commonly) somewhere in-between. However you choose to measure its success.
But there is one thing you can do which I think matters more than everything. And that is – FOLLOW UP! Excuse the shouty caps, but it really is so very, very important.
Why am I banging on about this? Because recently, I went to a client’s marketing event in Hampshire, which we had mutually agreed to attend, and we had a total of zero – yes that’s ZERO – people come to our stand. Let’s pick this apart a bit.
When no-one comes to your stand at a B2B conference / event
- Yes, it was the right show. (Thanks for asking).
- The stand wasn’t whizzy, but it was fresh, tidy, clear and appropriate.
- The messaging was accurate and again, appropriate.
- OK, it was a very small, niche show and there were only 13 companies (prospects for us) due to be attending. Of those 13 signed up, only 8 came. We knew it was small, but still !
- We were bunged in a far corner and counted a grand total of ZERO delegates wearing the right lanyards (our customer group) walking past us.
- Something wasn’t right….
It turned out that of the delegates, all 8 actually had pre-arranged meetings, set up by the company hosting the event. They were scheduled back to back, leaving delegates no perceived (or real) time for doing anything other than attending those set meetings. What we didn’t realise was that the company running the event had not seen fit to include us in their ‘recommendations’ for companies to meet – because we were providing software consultancy rather than software products. So we were a little different, but not enough to justify that treatment. (A conversation to be had after the day).
What to do at a sales event if it’s going this badly
- Hang out at the bar. Look like a friendly soul (even if you’re not) who is going to offer some light-hearted, smiling, conversational relief from the tedium of an industry event. Don’t tell them what you do unless they ask. Ask them what their best moment of the day is (usually leaving…) or favourite stand, or best conversation (hopefully the one they are having with you right now).
- Hang out at the café. See above.
- Hang out in the communal lunch area. See above. Eating more than one lunch would be odd, and possibly noticed.
- Hang out at the toilets. Only appropriate if no bar or café or communal area of any sort. Even then, handle with care. Probably best to stick to the toilets of your preferred gender rather than being seen in both. (PS. Never tried toilet networking, but it may be better than nothing).
- Talk to all the other exhibitors. Ask them about the show, the delegates, where they got their jacket, anything. Be friendly. See number 1. Learn what you can to find out what might not be right (about the event, audience, your stand etc.)
Always follow-up after any B2B marketing event
On a more serious note, there is one thing to do after any and every event. However good or bad it is. And that is to FOLLOW-UP. (Sorry, shouty caps again). Do not forget to do this. Do not de-prioritise it. Make it happen. Make it the most important part of the event. Why? Because it is !
Why follow-up matters quite so much
After our failed event described above, I was sent the delegates’ contact names, emails and phone numbers by the organiser. All this was provided with the full understanding of the delegates that the info went to exhibitors for the purpose of – you’ve got it – follow-up.
So I simply emailed them all, personally. One by one. A bit of copy and pasting for speed, but every email was a personalised one, specific to their business and needs. And I kept it simple. I just said it was a shame we didn’t get a chance to meet on the day, but that we were a specialist consultancy and if they felt we might be useful in their search for the right software system, please get in touch.
Out of those eight delegates/companies that I contacted, two replied within a week or so saying yes please, they would like to hear more, and could we please meet up. Yay ! That is such a wonderfully high rate of response that it thankfully demonstrated one thing – we were at the right event. (Which we had been beginning to wonder).
So our measurement now looked like:
- Event visitors/prospects spoken to at stand = 0. New contacts = 0. Leads = 0
- Event visitors/prospects spoken to at bar = 3. New contacts = 2. Leads = 0.
- Event visitors/prospects emailed as follow-up = 8. Leads = 2. Meetings = 2.
If you only do one thing
Follow-up everyone you meet at an event. Link In. Email them. Call them. Say thanks. Say good to meet you. Add them to your contact lists (with permission). And then, keep in touch…
AND… If you’re looking for help, advice or support with your sales and marketing – and you’re in or near Hampshire – then please do call me 07827 279569 or email me on email@example.com.