Show Business: How to Maximize Your Event Marketing Return on Investment

There is no better way to make genuine and profitable connections with your audience than face time. Conventions, conferences, expos—these are all opportunities for you to personally engage with current clients, prospects, and other industry professionals. Still, exhibiting at these types of events may require a large investment of time and resources, so it’s critical that you make the most of your participation.

A stand-out tradeshow presence should appear effortless. But with our client, vAuto, competing for the attention of nearly 10,000 dealerships attending the 2017 National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Expo, we know there’s more going on behind the curtain before, during, and after the show than meets the eye.

Here are some tips and tactics that you can include in your event marketing playbook, along with how vAuto used them to their advantage at NADA.

Before: Build Excitement
Part of driving traffic to your booth is planning ahead and creating buzz. Inform customers and prospects that you’ll be attending an upcoming tradeshow, making sure to highlight not only your presence, but also any contests, speaking engagements, or product demonstrations you may be featuring.

You can create event-specific communications, or you may want to incorporate the message into your current marketing collateral. We did the latter for vAuto, adding a secondary call to action to their print ads and direct mail pieces to generate interest (see ad below). We also created reminder emails that vAuto sent to their current customers, encouraging them to visit the booth and say hello.


During: Engage While You’re There
Once you’re at the show, your team, your booth, and your collateral materials should all work together to engage and educate attendees through a consistent and unified message.

When developing event collateral, consider creating something that not only conveys your value, but is also useful to attendees. For example, in place of standard brochures and sell sheets, vAuto used product cards with a key-shaped USB featuring the same videos that played at their booth (see image of event collateral below). This unique selling tool helped ensure that vAuto—and the benefits of their products—would be remembered long after the show’s conclusion.

IMG_0321-Conquest key cards small

After: Lead Follow-Up
While preparation and engagement are both key to establishing an initial connection with prospects, your follow-up is just as important in generating a positive return on your event marketing investment.

If your event organizers offer a badge scanner to capture leads, get one or two so your team can capture complete and accurate contact information from every interested visitor. If scanners aren’t available, collect business cards for future outreach.

With your visitor list secure, you’re in a great position to stay fresh and relevant by offering valuable content in follow-up communications. In their post-show email, vAuto thanked their visitors with a simple message that linked to a landing page featuring helpful videosv on industry trends and opportunities to be successful. This enabled vAuto to continue the conversation with prospects beyond the booth and, more importantly, it helped move these new contacts further along the sales funnel toward conversion.

Want to make sure your business stands out on a crowded show floor? Chat with us about strategic marketing for your next tradeshow or industry event.

Lauren Carmer

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