Tradeshows continue to be a primary source of lead generation for many sales and marketing teams. Yet most companies cannot calculate their marketing ROI for tradeshow investments.
There are only three ways to generate leads — marketing, cold calling and networking — and I often refer to them as the three legs of lead generation. Spending a disproportionate amount of time allocation and funding as a company on one of the three legs of lead generation depresses the success of the other two legs because your team becomes dependent on this approach as the primary source of prospect opportunities.
In many companies, tradeshow participation is the ONLY marketing budget investment and the ONLY lead generation method.
When tradeshows are the primary source of lead generation, marketing measurement often drops because there is pressure to attend as many shows as possible to have some market visibility and to generate leads for the sales team (because there is no other marketing programs of substance).
This is a strategic planning mistake. By funding tradeshow participation when there is no return on investment benchmark because there are no other lead generation programs in place to supplant it . . . makes no sense.
By using tradeshow lead generation as the primary source of company lead generation, there is an increased value expectation on the leads that are collected . . . because there are no other leads.
How often have marketing managers or corporate CEO’s heard “we have to go — or else our prospects will not think we are in business.” This kind of statement accurately describes a company’s lack of marketing initiatives. Of course, if tradeshows are your only marketing investment, then yes, maybe your prospects will think you are not in business any more. But if you have a continuous prospect marketing engagement (Value Forward Marketing) model where you are consistently interacting with targeted prospects on a regular basis through other marketing mediums (webinars, newsletters, PR, etc.), then the assumption that your prospects will believe that your tradeshow non-attendance is a negative reflection of your firm is incorrect.
To increase your tradeshow ROI, invest in other marketing lead generation programs and participate in less tradeshows.
3 Steps To Increase Your Tradeshow ROI
- Reduce the number of tradeshows you go to and focus on shows that generate traceable new business capture within 12 months following the show date.
- Pre-market to all tradeshow attendees . . . or don’t go.
- When assembling your tradeshow marketing materials, develop written talking points for your staff to coordinate a universal description of your business value for all prospects who enter your booth.
Marketing without a Return on Investment . . . is just wasted effort.