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B2B Live Event Survival Guide

February 26, 2015
00:0000:00

Erika Goldwater, VP Marketing for ANNUITAS covers planning for a live event. This is tradeshow season and it's time to remind yourselves and your on-site team of the basics for before, during and after an event.


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DW: How do you decide which are best to participate in?
EG: Where are your buyers. The events are part of an ongoing strategy, not a "one and done" solution. This is an opportunity to solidify your relationship with them.

Big events are expensive. Map them out to see if this actually reaches your buyers. The expense isn't just the money, it's the staff resources.
Then, figure out your plan -  what are you doing: pre, during and post event.
"Thanks for meeting us at the booth!" doesn't cut it. It's the reason we hate having our badges scanned.

If your concerned about ROI for events: Yes, it's hugely important; but there's not always immediate return. From an ANNUITAS and leadspace perspective, we always saw our largest ROI from events.
The buyers are THERE. The face to face element can't be underestimated. 

But it's not just pitching your product. 
It's a great chance to network and gain more knowledge on sales, your buyer or industry trends. 
PRE-EVENT: Booth process

What do I want to convey?
What sort of message do I want to establish at the event? 
How can I get them to talk to me?
What will make them stop? 
Look at your giveaway and signage. It's your opportunity to engage them in some sort of way to have a conversation. Intriguing graphics, bullet point, question, phrase set the tone an interest.

Be provocative.
DW: Cheasy things can get your attention, but it has to be on-message with your brand.
If you are known as the annoying booth at the trade show, people will avoid you.

Unless you have a good conversation going with them already, you don't already know where they are in the buying cycle. On that path, a tradeshow is not a place to launch something brand new. Unless everyone knows what you do, it can be confusing.

If you do something new and totally different, you'll have to engage the potential attendees ahead of time - build excitement and start that conversation for continuity.
"Meet us at the booth!" - not enough to start a conversation. What are you going to reveal, share, demonstrate?
"Come meet the new CEO...." give an opportunity and background. Need the build up.

DURING EVENT:
The training aspect is quite often ignored. It's brutal. The people staffing the booth have to be ON the entire time. They need to know the key value propositions, and be taught how to be engaging in the booth.
Your booth has to be welcoming. No grumps allowed. And, out of the booth, you are still representing the brand. Be careful what you say - it may be overheard. You are ON the entire time. You can let your hair down in your room after the show is closed for the day.
If there are demonstrations involved, make sure all staff can go through the demo.
Remember tradeshows are noisy. You may not have sound. Don't count on a demo with voiceover or music being heard as anything discernable over the din of the show.

How to make the most of B2B live events - a few ideas:
Throw welcome receptions, a party, cocktail hour or dinner. These are a great way to break the ice.
Some people attend just for the sessions and never really make it to the exhibit floor.
Same with post-show - find a way to be a welcome invitation to a conversation.
Tactics/logistics: 
Common rookie mistakes: Not unlocking security on your laptop.
Watch the screensaver - have a screensaver for the company and not your family vacation. Make sure cables work. Bring extra cables and back up items, make a first aid kit for trade shows:
plugs, chargers, Sharpies, tape, safety pins, another USB key, converter cords to adapt
devices. Not having Plan B items can kill your event.
Wrong way:
Walk out in front of them and say, "Hi, how are you?" - don't be invasive.
They really know you are there and they feel like prey. Disarm them.
RIGHT WAY:
In your booth: Pay attention to your expressions, are you smiling and not in a creepy way? - DW

Giveaways - have in a basket. Allow them to take the GIVEAWAY. Don't hold the candy hostage.

Don't leave food out in the booth. If you are working the booth, you are working - don't drink,
don't eat in the booth, don't chew gum on the floor. Can you imagine speaking to someone after you were munching on a crab puff and it's in your teeth, and on your breath? 
Also, put the PHONES DOWN! Be present - be available. 
If you have to step away, make sure the booth is covered.
You should be exhausted if you are doing it right. This gets back to that toll on the staff resources.
Prepare them! Rotate your booth staff out, schedule breaks. It's a long day.
Give them a 2-3 hour break for them to catch up or attend sessions.
DW: Great time to test your approach since you can see their expressions. 
EG: Great time to test your messaging and direct engagement.
They may not be that into your message. Ask them about THEM and why they are there
or hope to learn.

Post Event follow up:
Continue the conversation. Have different types of communications:
demo, vs. deep dive, and don't send a blanket message - segment it out.