Ah, the irony of sitting down to write a blog five days late that is about the very thing you were so preoccupied with that it made you late in the first place! The trade show trade off.

When I first joined our marketing team about three months ago, I joined with a full plate of shows already committed to for the second half of the year. It’s wonderful to work for a company that believes in the investment and is forward leaning in our growth, but now I am ultimately responsible for the details and, man, there are a ton! I never thought I would spend 30 minutes looking for just the right fishbowl for the business cards at the booth but I did (and i found

  • Why do we do them? Lead generation, awareness, face time, and market intelligence. Oh, and occasionally cool swag 🙂  Seriously though, some shows may be all about lead generation – lots of scans like Dreamforce. Alternatively we just returned from the MS Dynamics US Sales Kickoff last week. This was a relatively smaller show but wonderful for awareness and face time with a highly concentrated group of our target audience in the Microsoft channel. Not to mention great intel in the sessions. It’s important when considering trade shows to account for all of the benefits, especially the less tangible ones.
  • Which do we choose? This is a mix of science and gut. For shows we’ve attended in the past, we’ve done a great job of tracking ROI over time with the Salefusion event module. The trick is, there are so many new events each year, we need to decide where to place our new bets. We have a very focused approach to our CRM alliance partners and that helps guide our choices as we prioritize our CRM focused events.
  • What do we invest? Naturally sponsoring a trade show can be a huge expense. A small booth at Dreamforce can start at $50K. Whoa! Once you add in giveaways, collateral, travel, and other expenses, the investment really adds up. What often gets overlooked in considering the investment is the time by marketing, sales and possibly other leaders in the company to prep for messaging and time away. We commit to doing it right or not doing it at all. And that means investing our time before, during, and after the show by all who attend.
  • Is it worth the trade off? In our space, absolutely. The key is to measure, report back thoroughly, and to get everyone involved in pre and post event planning. The success of the show is not defined as we pack up our monitors and head back to the airport. It’s defined in the ‘afterglow’ communications and subsequent nurtures, which are sometimes easy to overlook as we race to ship our booth to the next event. Detailed planning and communication, especially with your company’s outbound sales development team, is critical.
  • Lastly, I feel compelled to share a funny story from last week. This is the first time I traveled as Salesfusion’s sole marketing representative. Oh, the pressure. It went off without a hitch with the small exception of my mistake to bring the wrong table cover.

    I accidentally brought a smaller version that wouldn’t zip up and essentially looked like someone trying to squeeze into a bright orange outfit that hasn’t fit for many years. Picture way too tight spandex stretched over a an extra large folding table and a zipper that wouldn’t quite get zipped in the back.

    It was still an amazing event and despite the tablecloth snafu and my overwhelming sense of booth neighbor tablecloth envy (didn’t know I would ever experience that!), everything went off without a hitch by a well aligned marketing and sales team.