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Event Success: A Case Study

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A few years ago, I was in a marketing meeting with a company and they were debating as to whether to attend the annual big industry exhibition that year. They’d been for the past few years, but it had never been much of a success for them, and they were deliberating over whether they could put the budget to better use.

I asked them a few simple questions and quickly realised their mistakes. I then asked if I could manage the show for them that year and they give it one more go. I had big targets on my head and everyone was expecting it to fail (in a nice way). Here’s the story of what happened…

Why Are You Going?

The first question I’d asked the company was why they had attended in previous years and what they’d hoped to get out of it. The answer was simply because everyone in the industry went. I didn’t think that was good enough.

Instead, that year we set a target. We thought about what we actually wanted to sell and we identified the real advantages of going. It instantly clarified our minds and it got everyone a bit more excited.

On The Stand

The next step was to work very closely with the sales and product teams. We established what products were most visual and easy to demonstrate, and what (even if it was a big seller) wouldn’t grab the same attention. We thought carefully about how the stand could be laid out to ensure that people could easily see things, view a demonstration and have more meaningful conversations.

We worked out what the top questions were likely to be and we made sure we could answer them quickly and effectively, and that the stand supported the sales team in as many ways as possible.

We also made sure that we had a theme to the stand and a fantastic message. It had to work in line with the rest of our marketing activity, but we also had to make sure it felt bigger and better so it stood out on the day.

Every single inch of that stand was well thought through to ensure we maximised engagement, all working towards the targets we’d set ourselves.

Capturing Leads

The most important aspect of any show is to get leads. Of course it is. You’re there to drum up business. But the leads don’t begin on the day of the show, and they don’t end when the stands are being dismantled.

First of all we worked with the show organisers to find out all the ways we could promote ourselves beforehand, and we maximised every opportunity. From getting involved in their social media, to carefully putting together our words for the Show Guide and negotiating a good price on an advertisement, we looked at every way we could get word out that we were going to be there.

We also did a lot of our own promotion, telling people to come and see us on the day. We had a little meeting facility on the stand where visitors could book in slots with the sales or marketing team. On one day, I had an Editor of a magazine visit me to learn more about what we were doing. He’d booked in a slot as he was curious about this company that suddenly seemed to be everywhere. Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes and we were open to that. Never close any doors.

On the stand, I arranged a competition between the sales team. The person with the most leads won a bottle of Champagne. It was a three day event, and at the end of every day we did a running total. We also had a little hand drawn thermometer hidden near the back of the stand where we coloured it in based on the leads, showing how we were getting closer to our target. It created a buzz, it felt exciting and it kept the team engaged, even during some of the quieter periods.

Finally, we had a laptop with us and we entered leads live into our CRM system each day, ensuring that by the time the sales team were back in the office the following Monday, they had all of their leads entered and ready to follow up. The marketing team sent out a thank you letter and information pack to everyone, and the sales team promptly followed people up, based on the priority list we’d determined.

One Month Later

Because of the prompt response to leads following the show, within one month we’d gained a 107% ROI. We had already made the money back that we’d spent, plus a little bit more. And there was still quite a lot to follow up on.

It was seen as the most successful event the company had ever attended, and when the following year came around, there wasn’t a discussion of whether to attend or not, it was now a matter of how we can do even better.

If you’d like to find out our top tips for planning your next event, check out our Top Tips blog

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