Exhibitors: Maximise your ROI at Boat Shows!

Exhibitors can ensure ROI by preparation, presentation and thorough follow up.
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It's one thing to recommend marketing tactics and big-picture strategies, quite another to list the practical and so-frequently neglected 'to do' for boat shows and events to ensure ROI. Here, Phil Shaw, Events & Operations Manager at Sanctuary Cove Boat Show shares insight into some vital components of every exhibitor's check list.

The Optimising Opportunities Survey, carried out in September 2011 by IET Venues in the UK, reveals that 61% of event marketers feel current methods of capturing data at events and ways in which this data is used, need to improve in order to fully realise the value of exhibiting at tradeshows.

The findings revealed that many marketers still use traditional methods with 77% citing 'collecting business cards' as a method of obtaining information to generate new leads. While 82% have moved on to use badge scanners as well, only 14% highlighted that this data was fed automatically into a CRM system to be used at a later date. 38 per cent of respondents however indicated that this data is often manually inputted into a stand-alone database or spreadsheet.

The survey showed that marketers use a variety of channels to follow up leads post-event, with 20% moving to social media as an effective post-show tool. However, 48% are still opting to use a database or spreadsheet to track progress as opposed to a CRM system, while 5% revealed that they fail to track progress at all.

Simon Timmis, Marketing Manager, IET Venues believes that to gain full value from tradeshows and maximise return on the investment, exhibitors need to use all the information that is given to you. 'An overhaul of processes and technologies needs to be considered so that data is captured effectively, recorded efficiently and follow-up tracked successfully to save time and generate solid leads.'

Technology can be used to trace each delegate’s unique journey before, during and after each event. Such information is essential to other departments of the organisation other than sales including HR to drive measurable results.

Phil Shaw, Events & Operations Manager for the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show has 16 years’ experience facilitating events in Australia and abroad. He says that while follow-up after a show is vital, exhibitors can also maximise their presence during a show by following a few simple suggestions:

• Don’t sit at the back of your display and expect potential customers to come to you. Be on your feet, at the front of your displaying engaging visitors with a friendly smile as they enter your display or as they walk past your display.
• Discourage eating on your display. Nothing looks worse to a potential client than a salesperson gorging on a hamburger and can of coke on your display. Ask staff to eat elsewhere. This also gives them a break if they are on their feet all day. If staffing levels do not allow you to leave your display, then try and enjoy your lunch in a discreet manner.
• If you have a small display, try and avoid placing a large counter across the front of your display. This creates a visual barrier and subconsciously deters visitors from approaching your display. Keep your display open and inviting to enter.
• Ensure your staff have competent product knowledge or have the ability to quickly refer to product knowledge. Have ample marketing literature on hand. The internet has largely replaced the printed brochure, however it still pays to have some form of printed information or contact sheet.
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