Exhibitions create an interesting marketing dynamic. For those exhibiting, investment can be significant and the pressure is on to attract visitors to the stand and convert them to customers. Meanwhile, for those suppliers not exhibiting many are planning high profile marketing campaigns to maintain their position, protect their customers and ensure they get their share of new business.
Either way, it is essential to set some realistic targets and track both your results and cost metrics including:
- Set a target number of ‘raw’ leads, qualified prospects, and new customers
- Similarly record actual numbers generated from the exhibition/campaign and compare with targets
- Calculate cost per qualified sales lead – this is the total cost of the exhibition/campaign (include direct and indirect costs) divided by number of qualified prospects
- Similarly calculate cost per customer acquisition
Both sides of the exhibition coin can create ‘ripe banana’ syndrome. An exhibition or high-powered marketing campaign can create a sudden surge of sales leads – perhaps even hundreds of leads over the course of a few days. Only 10-20% of these sales leads are ‘ripe’ – those that your sales team can convert to customers in a relatively short space of time. The rest are ‘green’ – they will take longer to ripen.
Chances are your sales team will focus on the ‘ripe’ sales leads, and by the time they get around to the rest of them, many will have gone cold or bought elsewhere. This is why sales conversion rates on exhibition leads are often lower than producing a steady stream of leads throughout the year.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If leads are simply passed to your sales team (or dealers/agents) to follow up you could be leaving 80-90% of your prospects wide open to your competitors. But introducing a lead nurturing strategy can transform your sales conversion rates by ‘lining up’ prospects ready for your sales team to convert.
Lead nurturing lives in the space between ‘sales lead’ and ‘customer’. It requires a specific process of regular contact from your marketing department, providing meaningful information using a number of different channels – letter, email, telephone, links to blogs, event invites and so on.
Some of the content that should be considered includes;
- Company and industry related news and stories
- Expert articles and opinions written from your company
- Third party articles that might interest the prospect
- Case studies and customer reviews
- Hints and tips
- Marketing collateral and literature
- Reports, research and White Papers
- Seminars, open days and events
Creating the right blend of method, frequency and content is important. Some companies have automated this with a series of pre-written e-newsletters that are sent on a regular basis. Other companies ensure their marketing department produce regular blogs, literature, events and social media content designed to move prospects from ‘green bananas’ to ripe.
Investing in an exhibition or major marketing campaign can swallow up huge costs and resources, creating a surge in sales leads that are not always fully exploited. By introducing lead nurturing you can expect to convert more leads into customers, manage your sales team more effectively and ensure your exhibition or campaign produces maximum return on investment.
If you would like help implementing a lead nurturing strategy, or indeed would like my advice regarding your overall marketing strategy, please feel free to get in contact on the number below.
Andrew Scott is Managing Director of Purplex, the industry marketing specialists. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management and a member of the Direct Marketing Association