In the 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, 1,745 marketing organizations revealed that trade shows took up the biggest chunk of their marketing budget – over 21%. Yet, they only ranked fourth in marketing effectiveness, under websites, SEOs, and emails.
I suspect that part of the ROI problem may be due to improper prioritization. Smart marketers apply some type of lead scoring to leads generated from website, SEO, and email initiatives. They need to do the same with trade shows. I recommend ranking trade show leads using the point-system outlined below – the higher the ranking, the hotter the lead.
1. Trade-show registration lists. While useful to build your marketing database for lead nurturing, a trade-show registration list is the least-qualified lead source because some aren’t remotely interested in your solution. In fact, they may not have attended the trade show at all. If the trade show closely aligns with one of your solution offerings, then the quality of these kinds of leads will be better. The more broad based the trade-show appeal, the less aligned it will be with your product/service categories and target market, so the conversion rate will be lower.
2. Those who attend a widely publicized trade-show social event sponsored by your organization. Obviously, such events give you time to engage prospects and customers in a more relaxed atmosphere. At times, however, these social events are so large that many of those in attendance never speak to anyone from your team. If that’s the case, the overall conversion rate of attendees is unlikely to be very high. Still, there’s an indication of awareness and interest in your company.
3. Booth visitors. Make sure their reasons for stopping by aren’t for merely collecting a tchotchke or fulfilling a requirement to win a prize.
4. Those who attend a special public event. Often, marketers will create an event within their booth in which someone presents to a small group. There’s typically one-way communication, not a conversation. Depending on the nature of the presentation, this indicates a relatively early stage in the buying cycle. The buyer enjoys a level of anonymity while gathering information to determine whether the solution warrants a conversation. These attendees generally have a deeper level of engagement than someone who stops by your booth to window shop.
5. Those who attend a learning event. These events can be executive roundtables or seminars held during the trade show. You can specifically target the audience and their attendance indicates significant interest.
6. Those who interact with a team member. This group is obviously more qualified than a booth visitor. The challenge is capturing this information. One way is with radio-frequency identification which tracks visitors’ movement. It can tell who stopped by, where they specifically stopped and for how long.
7. Those who attend a one-on-one meeting. Trade shows can be great places to meet individually with key decision makers in target accounts.
This type of trade-show lead scoring can supplement your larger lead-scoring model that includes information like the title, industry and organization size, or the number of responses from the prospect’s company over time.
Most importantly, it can help you determine, as you sort through the massive amounts of leads that trade shows generate, who is most worthy of your attention.
Image: AAPEX Shows