For this week’s post, we’re taking a quick field trip to explore something dear to my heart – custom cars. These beauties not only please the senses, they’re also the nectar that feeds custom builders, pinstripe artists, performance engine builders and a tankful of small business owners who help create these works of art.
My favorite part of attending shows like Wichita’s Blacktop Nationals (tied with the hot cars, of course) is meeting these savvy business men and women. When hundreds of street rodders, rat rodders and their cousins, the custom bike builders, come together, plenty of vendors are sure to follow.
Our pick of the night? Mark Robinson of Creeped Out Customs. His low-slung creations, dark and just a wee bit creepy, definitely captured the crowds. He wisely chose prime display space in the center of the car show action and brought two trucks, two bikes and some kick-butt T-shirts to snag the eye.
We saw every kind of vendor, inside the “Million Dollar Car Show” and outside on the sizzling August street. Creeped Out Custom Cars, in particular, combined location, novelty, technical genius and consistent branding. I hope he made plenty of solid contacts and goes on to build edgy creations for years to come.
And that brings up a topic that’s perenially discussed on business blogs – the ROI of attending trade shows and exhibitions. Is it possible to know whether the cost of displaying your products will be rewarded with increased sales?
The answer is as variable as the vendors who populate trade shows. Your company’s transportation, space rental, increased inventory, physical display and staff time expenses all go into the mix.
Weigh that against the potential of being in front of a large number of people at a single show, some of whom may need your product or service. Sales, no matter how large the trade show audience, aren’t always a given. But there are several ways you can increase the odds that contacts made at shows and exhibitions turn into sales.
One obvious factor in whether or not trade show leads turn into sales after the show is whether or not your company’s presence was memorable. That’s why I believe Creeped Out Customs will see sales result from last weekend’s show. Their unique, well-branded displays and obvious expertise as custom car builders should stick in the minds of many show-goers.
The rest of the equation for creating sales from trade show leads is up to your sales force. Here’s a quick list of tips for making the most of contacts made at trade shows:
Capture the leads in one place – a spreadsheet, your CRM program (NOT in a stack of sticky notes)
Follow up on all trade show leads within a couple of days
Include new contacts in future marketing campaigns
Track which trade show leads result in sales
Use the information gathered at this show to calculate your ROI for the next one
I wish that I could say all of the above is obvious post-show strategy, but I’m still surprised how many companies fail to deliberately capture and follow up on show leads once everyone’s back in the office.
Being out among the population, especially a population primed for your kind of product, can be a big boost to this year’s sales. As a business owner, it’s up to you to calculate ROI on shows and events, decide whether it is worth the extra expense to attend and, most of all, to make sure that your sales force is maximizing the leads you gain if you go.
So – what’s been your trade show or event experience? Has it resulted in increased sales? What new strategies will you employ at your next show to improve the possibility of new sales?