There are dozens of live manufacturing industry and trade events held every year. Manufacturers participate in both industry specific trade events, association events, and recruitment events. Whether you have 5 people stop by your booth, or 100 people attend, providing real-time follow-up will result in increased engagement.  For many manufacturers, it's difficult to remember each conversation and deliver relevant content to that attendee, days after the event occurred.  This is especially challenging for manufacturers of large equipment who will typically go on road shows in which customers can test-drive the equipment or actually see it in action.


A tradeshow should be viewed as a longitudinal program, and not a one-off campaign.  The program should drive awareness of the manufacturer's event attendance, invite prospects, customers, channel partners, and prospective partners to join them, and deliver segmented and personalized post-event follow-up communications.  The live event campaign should be as automated as possible and engagement by the contact should trigger communication delivery. 


By providing real-time event follow-up you can organically grow your prospective database, increase engagement, and ultimately generate new revenue.  It's important to nurture event relationships by providing relevant content in the weeks following the event.  Offering valuable content and providing an opportunity to opt-in or out of such communications is a best practice.


Lastly it's important not to neglect those who could not attend the event.  Offering digital content from the event, like video of speakers and presentations, as well as the post-event nurture content, can result in new opportunity for the manufacturer.


Below are steps to framework your end-to-end tradeshow program. ASR_pic1.jpg


Define you objective

Identify the goal of your tradeshow.  Be specific.  "Driving awareness" or "launching a new product" are not measurable.  Clearly defined KPIs will align your organization, guide decision making, and allow the company to determine the true success of an event.  You may state your goal as "talk with 10 industry analysts", "identify 15 new potential channel partners", or "generate 50 new sample opportunities".


Plan ahead

Avoid the tradeshow scramble.  Manufacturers invest buko bucks into events.  Ensure you've committed the same investment with strategy and creative.  Using your defined KPIs agree upon messaging, theme, and booth and travel logistics. As yourself how you'll standout and why someone would want to stop by your booth. 


You'll also want to identify which channels you'll leverage before, during, and after the event.  My advice is to test all available options.  Use mailers, emails, hypersites, social media, and the phone. But also make sure you have processes in place to capture analytics against all channels.  Understand what works and what doesn't.

Where applicable, engage your channel through the process.  Brief them on the event, KPIs, and how the lead flow and assignment will function.  Set expectations with your partners on what you expect from them as well.


Segment your audience


Segment the list into 5 audiences.  The audience will include event attendees (if you receive access to that information), customers that would benefit from the event content, prospects that have engaged with previous content and that would benefit from the event content, partners who would benefit from the event content, and prospective partners that have engaged with previous content and that would benefit from the event content.


Assign each audience segment to a personalized program path.  Content for the assets should be customized for each list.  A 6th list will also be developed post-event for those contacts that do not attend.


Drive Awareness

Because manufacturers attend road shows hosted at multiple locations, it?s imperative that details of the specific show (date, location, equipment tested) are captured and referenced in the materials.  Include communications like ?Save the Date? to generate awareness by providing information on the purpose of the event and logistics.


Invitations with messaging focused on "Join Us" and "What You'll learn" will provide information on the event, what the attendee will learn,  justification for attending the event, and the value the attendee will gain.  This may contain a link to a registration form.


Build in several event registration reminders containing event details and logistics.


Work It


Get out behind the booth and into the isles.  Walk the floor, strike up conversations, don?t pitch product, and ask lots of questions. Once someone does approach your booth, don?t overwhelm them.  Work out beforehand who will approach, who will hand-off, and who will demo. 


Utilize technology to optimize real-time follow-up.  Companies like RelationshipOne have a solution that facilitates this.  Using a third party business card scanning app such as 'World Card' they email the VCS file directly from the application to a special email address that R1 provides. The information then gets added to your marketing automation system, and an email with a link to another form gets immediately sent to you. You click that, and can then use that form to collect further data on the Prospect. Because it's all hosted in your marketing automation system you are free to change the processing steps, form questions, follow-up, and frankly anything you can think of, to customize it differently for each show you attend.


Use this real-time data capture to funnel opportunities into the appropriate follow-up campaign.  You can immediately add contacts into your sample/trial campaign, prospective partners could be added into your channel partner recruitment campaign, and disengaged partners could be added into a channel partner engagement campaign. manufacturing expo los angeles convention center.jpg


After the Event


Debrief and conduct an After Action Review.  Have each person who aided in the program provide 3 sustains and 3 improves.  This may include select channel partners as well.  Pull and review the metrics and discuss how they compared to the defined KPIs.  How did they compare with previous event benchmarks?  What were questions commonly asked on the floor?  What approaches resonated?  What product requests were made?


Use the information to develop a post-event report communicated to all stakeholders.  Define successes and opportunities for improvement.  Provide information on analytics, leads and lead follow-up, and recommendations for future events.


What steps would you add to this framework?