Friday, March 27, 2009

How to Waste Money on a Trade Show

Tradeshows . . . Where Good Leads (no longer have to) Go To Die. Almost a year ago we wrote a series of articles on the challenges that tradeshow attendees face: Tradeshows, Where Good Leads go to Die (Part 1 & Part 2), our version of a Jerry Maguire document. Taken as a whole, it outlines the problems in the tradeshow and events industry and describes a set of solutions.

So today, we are launching Event Bookmarking, a proprietary software and integrated hardware system designed to improve audience response, face-to-face social networking and lead management.

Everyday, we talk with event managers, vendors, sponsors, speakers and attendees discussing the good, the bad and the ugly about their events. One of the core issues we discuss is the pressure for a return on investment in the expo or booth area.

In any economy, participation in an expo is dependent upon the amount of qualified leads a vendor received for their time, money and efforts. But simply agreeing to invest in a show is only half the battle because traditional lead management only produces a list of who was “scanned”; a list of a list, if you will. It can’t produce a list of truly ‘qualified leads’.

The follow up on these lists can be daunting and is typically done by placing those new leads into the sales pipeline for eBlasting or even worse “dialing for dollars” phone calls made by the newest sales trainees or more expensively, top sales talent.

After a busy show, attendees get pounded with junk mail and emails and phone calls thanking them for stopping by and ‘pitching’ the product or service. As a result, little list qualification occurs and they simply become part of the database going forward. Solving that problem is what generated the lead management component of Event Bookmarking (PDF Download).

And now the story that started it all… Years ago, we attended one of the tradeshows about tradeshows. We happened across one of the dozen or so ‘event management’ companies (translation - event registration software), ate the candy, took a brochure out of guilt, and thanked them for their time. We learned a lot from that experience. We were two people in a show full of several thousand attendees. We came, we saw, we talked and then we left . . . For us, that was that.

And that’s when the emails and the phone calls and the invitations started coming. “We’re having a webinar!”, “We’re doing a luncheon in your town!”, “We’re offering new modules that we’ve stacked on top of the other ones… it’s all shiny and new and you MUST BE THERE to see it!!!”

Since we were relatively unimpressed with what we saw and were already well into the development of the BusyEvent Event Management Platform, we opted-out and took this one-time experience as a good dose of what not to do. Our event management clients were telling us what they wanted, didn’t like, wished they could have and we had already been building tools like this for over a decade as one-off software. The time was right for us to build an event platform.

But the lunch invitations kept coming. Even as we were launching Version 1 of BusyEvent and made no secret to who we were, nobody at the “we’ll invite you to a luncheon and show you our stuff” company had any tools or information to know if we were a qualified lead or not - so we’re still on the list today.

Last week, we received another email (the 4th in a period of 6 months) about another lunch and demo of their tools and that’s when we sat down and started doing some math. What did this one unqualified lead cost them and how many unqualified thousands more are rattling around in their system?

If they had just been able to sift through the thousands of contacts they gathered at the event we attended to find the 50-100 good and qualifiable leads it would have been more useful to them. What they do with the other 900 is up to them . . . so, here’s what we do:

  1. First, everyone doesn’t get a color glossy brochure that will sooner-than-later find its way into a landfill. Instead, had that original event had the Event Bookmarking system in use, every contact could be filtered and the qualified leads would get more attention.
  2. Then, we track who downloaded our PDF brochure, clicked on the link to our site, blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc… and expressed ANY follow-on interest.
  3. By self-identifying as ‘interested’ each of those more-qualified leads would get a call from us about the real actions that occurred (we met, we talked, you clicked a link, etc…) and as appropriate, those qualified-leads would continue through the sales funnel until a more expensive contact, such as a meeting, a lunch, or demo, etc…made sense.
  4. The others would all get an invite to a webinar, links to downloads and perhaps a quick 3 question survey about what they’re interested in. And they’d remain in the ‘more qualifications needed’ list.

Before Event Bookmarking, Sales and Marketing would have no way to measure a successful show other than the number of contacts they gathered - qualified or not, “just get me names”. Those really aren’t leads, but rather, names on a list. Then inside sales is incentivized to get people to come to the luncheon no matter what their level of interest. This occurs over and over until nobody knows where the leads came from or what money is best spent on Marketing. It’s the “brute force approach” and we believe that budgets will never be there for that, ever again.

What you’ll see by downloading the Event Bookmarking brochure is what we’ll address for every attendee; the actual measurement of ROI and the identification of which contacts are worth spending time and money on and converting into leads.

That’s why . . . rather than continuing to be part of the problem, we’re offering part of the solution.

What is Event Bookmarking?

It’s a software and purpose-built hardware platform that combines Lead Management with Audience Response, Face-to-Face Social Networking and an online information source to extend a 3-5 day event into a 365 day year-round connection between attendees, vendors, speakers, sponsors and event managers.

So, feel free to download our ‘Green Friendly’ brochure and call us to discuss how to cut the cost of event management in half while getting quality event information as it happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment