Fourteen days (nine business days) until HR Tech kicks off.

Almost every vendor I meet throughout the year asks me to tell them which shows they should go to.  They generally want to know which trade shows generate the most leads, have the more relevant buyers in attendance, and deliver the best ROI on their investment.

Like any good consultant, there is a little diagnosis I need to do before I can answer that.  Of course, I ask what shows they have attended in the past.  That one’s easy enough – I get the list.  Then, I ask them to walk me through an example of a typical pre-show, on-site, and post-show strategy, plan, and measurement.  This one usually results in a blank stare….  “Ummm do you mean what emails we put out?”  No, that’s a tiny part of it… I mean all of the marketing and sales effort that went into each phase of the event, and how you track and measure conversions.

It is amazing to me how many vendors show up to a large industry event and have done little more than put out a few press releases, grabbed some low hanging marketing fruit in the form of email campaigns, and otherwise just ship the booth, show up to the event and “see what happens”.  Just to clarify, I’m not talking about just the start-ups that haven’t done this before.  This issue seemingly knows no bounds.

The vendors love to complain about all of the shows – while they show up every year – and yet only a few have anything close to resembling a tightly executed event strategy and plan.  It’s really not fair to the event organizers.

When I tell them the conversion rates I’ve been able to drive over time, via trade shows, or any source, their jaw generally drops.  There is no magic here – it’s just that if I’m going to put money or time into any sort of marketing and sales initiative, I’m going to do everything reasonably possible to ensure I get my money’s worth, and absolutely everything possible to track and tie back results over time and across all marketing and sales initiatives.  No magic bullet.  No special sauce.  More like Sales and Marketing Hot Sauce… When it comes to planning, consistency, and measuring for your marketing dollars, be like the little old lady from Franks Red Hot Sauce and “put that @*it on everything”. (If you’ve been living under a rock the last month or so, I give you a link to the referenced little old lady below)

Okay, I’m not just another consultant blogging about a problem with no ideas.  Here is a more detailed list of JUST A FEW OF THE THINGS you should be thinking about in your run up to HR Tech.

  • At this point you’ve shipped, or are about to ship, your , last campaign to your house prospect list, the HR Tech list, your customer list, etc.  Just to hit the total possible universe of attendees at the show.
  • You’ve long since identified all of the accounts in your sales pipeline that have someone influential to your deals at HR Tech, and you have scheduled meetings with them at the show… planned something special for them: dinner,  a show, etc.
  • Your Social Media Plan for the show is really cooking now.  You’ve been in touch with all of the right analysts, talked to the bloggers that care about your niche, you’ve got some content  that will work well and add value for anyone blogging, tweeting, or facebooking it.  Most important, you’ve got a goal for the SM campaign and have a platform to track and measure the buzz you are generating.
  • Your messaging.  Ahhhh the messaging.  Starting with the Press Release that will hit on 10/2 or 10/3, you’ll be rolling a message out about your new product/partnership/integration/customer growth/whatever… and the messaging there is consistent across every campaign (email, social, phone) that is running around HRTech… down to the show floor…
  • The pre-show team brief is in the can  … and the daily brief and debrief at the show will reinforce it.
  • The Sales Team.  Now, they’ve identified the top 3 or 4 issues for the prospects and customers that are attending.  You’ve got content for them.  The Sales Team at the show has been briefed on the Show Strategy, the announcements, the 2 or 3 messages every prospect needs to hear.  The product demo scripts are long distributed and everyone is ready to rock.
  • The Post Show Plan is basically done, and just waiting for input from the show.  (This is another blog post all by itself.)
  • Everyone understands how to capture data at the show so that you can track ongoing.

There you go.  Eight things to get you thinking about how you will perform as a vendor at HRTech.  The list could be 10 times that long, but if you are just thinking about this now, eight is too long.  Don’t worry though, there’s always time to shake a little hot sauce on your Marketing and Sales plan and improve your results.