5 Best Practices for Trade Show and Event Follow-Up

Professionals at a Trade ShowIf I were to ask you right now, what is your process for following up with leads after an event, would you be secure in your answer?

According to Exhibitor Online, 70 percent of business leaders do not have a formalized plan or process for following up with trade show leads.

That means, while attending marketing events takes up large chunks of the marketing budget, the majority of businesses don’t have a plan for nurturing leads into new business.

Let’s fix that. If you would count yourself as one of the 70 percent without a strong event follow-up plan, keep reading. We’ve gathered our top 5 tips to help you successfully follow up with potential customers in meaningful, customer-centric ways.

If you are of the 30 percent who has a plan in place, read anyway! I’ve added a few “pro tips” to the basic tactics that might be a welcome addition to your strategy. Or, after reading, let us know if you are doing something we haven’t included. We’d love to know.

5 Best Practices for Trade Show Follow-up

1. Enter contacts into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

As soon as you return from your event pull out those business cards! Entering these contacts into your CRM or database will help to keep prospects top of mind, increasing the likelihood that you and your team will follow up with them.

Pro Tip: Don’t just dump leads into your CRM. Create well-segmented and tagged lists so future emails can be tailored according to key relationship signals, such as how you got the lead, their interests, or their job responsibilities.

2. Follow up within 48 hours.

Memories of connections made at the event will fade quickly as your contacts get back into the daily grind of the workday. By following up within two days, you’ll increase the chances your leads will remember you and allow you to interrupt their workflow.

It’s also critical that your follow-up is relevant, personal, and helpful. Start by referencing who you are, how they know you, and why you are reaching out to them. Make sure you include a valuable piece of content or information to set the tone as being helpful, not just another sales email.

Pro Tip: If you choose email as your follow-up tool, provide a range of engagement opportunities in that first email. Providing response opportunities that tie to different levels of the sales funnel helps you gauge their level of interest in you. A person who opts to respond with a phone call or meeting is a much hotter lead than someone who chooses to download a white paper or watch a video.

3. Check social feeds for people posting about the event.

Social media remains a tool for marketers even after the event is over. Check the event’s hashtag or mentions to find which topics caught people’s attention. That is fodder for your own content. This might come from questions tweeted to the keynote or discussions held under the event hashtag. Be sure to check hashtags and the handles of speakers for post-show content and response opportunities.

Pro Tip: If you notice a particular topic that fits your brand is getting a lot of traction, do a little digging: Is this topic getting traction outside of that event’s experience? If so, that could be a trending area for your brand. This might be an opportunity for your brand to explore using Influencers to help your brand authentically engage on the topic.

4. Thank media representatives and clients who visited your booth.

When your pre-show PR pays off, make sure you pay attention to the media and publishers who come to check out your products. Give them post-show recognition online by using their social media handle. This helps boost their social presence, but also promotes your own brand to their followers. Similarly, giving a digital shout out to clients makes them feel valued, and it gives your brand a boost.

Pro Tip: Taking a moment to capture a photo with the visiting clients or media representatives is worth it! People are more likely to share or engage with a photo than just text. When you post the picture later, be sure to tag the visitors so it appears in their feeds.

5. Post a follow-up to your channels.

Write a blog post giving a breakdown of the show, adding your own thoughts to keynote messages or discussions held there. Answer the most common questions people asked at your booth. Link to clients you saw or knew were there to give them a shout out. Add a pic of your booth crowded with eager leads to show your booth’s success. Post a link to your blog article on your social channels, using the show’s handle and hashtag to increase exposure.

Pro Tip: If you finish your blog post early enough, you can include it as a point of engagement in your trade show follow up email as a cool lead touch point.

With these tactics, we can not only get better at responding to conversations we had one-on-one, we can even initiate some new conversations post-event. Create a plan that works best for your sales team, and have a process to achieve that plan in place before the event begins.

When I ask you later, “How secure do you feel in your follow-up plan?”, you’ll be able to respond with confidence.