Get Better ROI From In-Person Events

by | DEC 12, 2021 | Content Marketing

Now that in-person events have returned, companies are faced with a decision. To attend or not to attend? (If you’d like to get introspective with this, Ethan Hawke feels you). To invest in an in-person event marketing strategy or not invest?

When deciding whether to attend an event, there’s usually some hemming and hawing, and for good reason. You want to make sure that the time and money you invest in prep and travel gives you a substantial return—in leads, sales, partnerships and more.

Maybe you’ve had disappointing results with live events in the past. Or maybe you’re about to attend your first in-person event in two years and want to make sure you’re up to date on how to get the best results. Either way, there might be a piece missing from your current in-person event marketing strategy that can get you better ROI.

Booth Ideas For Your In-Person Event Marketing Strategy

Paintings at conference booth as part of live event marketing strategy

Before we discuss the potential missing component of your in-person event marketing strategy, let’s give credit to the part that’s probably in great shape: your booth.

A booth is typically the first thing companies think about when attending at event, as it’s your company’s main physical presence. It enables you to let customers interact with your product, direct people to a specific place when you’re networking, have in-depth conversations with leads and raise your brand awareness. Without a booth, other marketing efforts fall flat.

If you’re brainstorming ways to make your booth stand out from other vendors, you might consider adopting some tactics from clients I’ve supported at events. 

For example, one client hired conference center staff to bake and serve fresh cookies right at the booth. They also set up paint canvases with a pre-drawn picture that passers-by could fill in with paint. Once the conference ended, the client donated the paintings to a local children’s hospital. Their booth was buzzing! I even overheard people talking about “the booth with the cookies and paint” during sessions.

Importance of Content In Your In-Person Event Marketing Strategy

The power of the booth cannot be underestimated. But here’s the thing. If you want to…

  • Win or accelerate leads who visit your booth;
  • Make your company’s unique voice fully “heard” at even the largest of events;
  • Be seen as an industry leader; and
  • Reap the financial and PR rewards of attending the event, long after it ends…

You can’t rely solely on your booth.

What else, then, does your in-person event marketing strategy need to include? Strategic content.

Stats On The Importance Of Content Marketing

How does strategic content impact your bottom line? The data doesn’t lie.

  • 71% of B2B buyers read 3-5 pieces (blogs and certain types of social media posts, for example) of content during the customer journey, as valuable content builds trust and confidence. (Demand Gen)
  • 95% of B2B customers reported that content is a trustworthy marker for them to evaluate a business. (Demand Gen)
  • Content marketing typically costs 62% less and attracts 3x the leads than traditional marketing. (Demand Metric)

Ready to reap the benefits of using content at live events for your own company?

Below are my top two ways you can use content at trade shows, industry conferences and user group meetings to generate revenue and support revenue-generating activities.

Did you know Hey Sarah offers strategic content, content plans and consulting to help you achieve success at your next event?

How To Use Content Marketing To Improve Your In-Person Event Marketing Strategy

1. Create A Valuable Free Download/Lead Magnet

Few things attract customers like a high-quality, highly valuable piece of content that’s free to download, aka a lead magnet. Bring a lead magnet to your conference—as a digital download connected to a landing page, plus a few hard copies to have at the booth. It’s a fantastic way to make your company memorable to attendees both during and after the event.

In my previous company, we created a free download for a conference in the form of a report on the latest industry trends. It included quotes from experts and action items that readers could apply in their own companies. Not only did the report receive about 100 downloads, it also gave us 25 subscribers to our blog and helped lead to a $25K long-term client.

Your company can get results like this (and even better) by creating a lead magnet. Tips for success:

  • Choose a topic that addresses a question, problem or pain point that your target audience (the event attendees) struggles with or wants to know more about.
  • Ensure the content is 95% educational and 5% promotional. You might include a brief summary of your company, contact information and logo/brand colors. The rest should be dedicated to providing value.
  • Design the download in a way that’s both attractive to the eye and makes the content easy to read.
  • Create a landing page with a unique URL for the event so that you can track how many people from the event have downloaded it. Keep it simple with 3-5 fields for attendees to complete so they can get the download quickly.
  • Include a QR code to the landing page on your business cards and one-sheets. As you make contacts during the day, email them that night with a link to the landing page.
  • If you get access to the list of attendees, email them with a link to the landing page. This is a great way to stand out from other vendors who are writing typical cold post-event emails.

2. Promote Your Company With A Killer Social Media Strategy

Portable phone charger on top of notebook as part of live event marketing strategyMy next surefire recommendation to get you better ROI from your in-person event marketing strategy? Use social media the right way.

When you think about promoting your company’s booth at a live event, what comes to mind? If it’s a simple, “Come see us at booth #123 at the conference!” your social media efforts will do nothing to boost your ROI.

Why does that not work?

Because that’s a boring message that doesn’t make people want to visit your both or learn more about your company. It promotes your company as a mere vendor, not as a stand-out industry leader that provides amazing value.

But let’s say you live-tweet insights from sessions and post them to Instagram stories; post a roundup of session takeaways on LinkedIn or Facebook; take videos of booth setup and activity; and tag speakers, colleagues and local restaurants. And you do this while including the conference hashtag, your booth number and the link to your free download. You’re way more likely to see tangible results.

There’s no doubt that social media is powerful. Check out these stats:

  • More than half (53%) of the world’s population is on social media. (Hubspot)
  • When following a brand on social media, 91% of consumers continue to engage by visiting the brand’s website or app. 89% of consumers will make a purchase from the brand and 85% will recommend the brand to a family or friend. (Sprout Social)
  • More than half of event professionals reported that their biggest social media challenge is how to use it effectively. (Eventforte)

Crafting a social media strategy that will yield fantastic results for your company takes a lot of planning. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Bring a team/partner. Assign one of your writers or marketers to run your company’s social media. Someone on the extroverted side is best. Do not try to run your social media and your both at the same time. Having a dedicated person running social is the best way to ensure this kind of strategy is executed properly—so that you see results.
  • Get creative with tagging. Tag your hotel, the conference center, shuttle service, any landmarks you visit, etc. This serves two functions: 1. It garners goodwill for your company because you’re being thoughtful about the resources that went into making the conference and 2. It attracts more eyeballs, clicks and engagement.
  • Take some time before the event to find social media handles of places and people you want to tag and store them in your phone for easy copy/pasting.
  • Have booth reps send pictures and videos of booth activity to your social media manager. That way, they can post booth updates while they’re in sessions or covering other parts of the conference.

Why does this strategy work?

I’ve used this social media strategy at many industry events. I’ve seen regular increases in booth traffic and received lots of positive feedback for the company from conference organizers and session speakers. One client even received formal recognition at a reception for our social media coverage!

I’ve also seen results from our social media strategy after the event. I encourage companies to use social media to nurture connections they made with industry experts at the conference. By doing that, clients have gained speaking opportunities, case study subjects and other profitable content collaborations.

To wrap up, here’s a little math to guide you in crafting your marketing strategy for your next live event: strong booth presence + strategic content = best chances for high ROI.

Need strategic content that will help your company succeed?