A Message to Vendors: The ROI of Events

Being in the event business a great deal of discussion with vendors focuses on return on investment of marketing dollars. When a vendor is looking at participating in an event or trade show, they are not familiar with, they always ask a litany of questions and justifiably so: How many attendees, what are their titles, what is included in the price, what vertical markets, and so on and so on.

All valid questions asked by a smart marketing department who are funding the event, from their limited budget.

Once the questions are answered and it is determined the show is a fit the company agrees to participate. The big day(s) comes and goes and then what?

I am starting to realize that what happens after a show varies dramatically from company to company. One would think the leads generated at the event would be a “number 1” priority for ANY company. Strike while the iron is hot, but this is not always the case.  Here are a few scenarios that I have encountered:

• A company has a system. They distribute leads when they return from a show and have a system for tracking to determine ROI. (they track through the complete sell cycle)

• A company has no system. They distribute the leads to sales reps and have no system of tracking to determine the ROI. Leads may or may not be followed up on, and no real determination of ROI is made.

• A company does not follow up (Hard to imagine, but it does happen more than you would imagine)

• A company that has a system (scenario 1) and tracks ROI can make valid and justifiable decisions about a show. Companies who represent scenarios 2 and 3 are usually the first to say the ROI wasn’t good and blame it on the event. (No kidding!)

There are several issues:

• The marketing department is funding events and trade shows. If sales does not report back on the results (and marketing does not insist they do) marketing does not want to invest. (Who can blame them)

• If sales leads are not followed up on, there is no business, no pipeline. (Brilliant deduction. Came up with that myself.)

• You and your company lose credibility and you REALLY tick off the people that took the time to visit you and who were expecting follow up information.  (I have heard people complain, which is why I am writing this blog.)

Have you ever attended an event or tradeshow, expected follow up information and were not contacted?