By Glenna Wiseman
Maximize your ROI at Solar Power International ’13 by Glenna Wiseman – Downloadable PDF
With roughly six weeks to go before the exhibit floor opens at Solar Power International 2013, here is a list of tips to help you maximize your investment at the show.
These tips come out of my experience coordinating the exhibition, marketing and team objectives of a top U.S. solar installer’s participation in four of the last five Solar Power International shows.
What are the goals and objectives for attending the show? Each of your attendance teams has specific goals in mind. Do all of the attending team members understand the goals of the other team members, helping each other to maximize time and contacts?
Map out which team members are attending which events and for what reasons. Have your team list key contacts and companies, business objectives of those meetings and make sure critical business connections are being met. High profile management team members may be required to attend more events than is physically possible with their other obligations. Coordinate everyone’s schedules to ensure key events at the show are attended by at least one management team member.
Staffing the Booth
Construct a booth staff schedule in advance to lessen confusion at the show and ensure your booth is always staffed. Doing this in advance allows the attending company representatives to review their schedules, coordinate important meetings and map out who will attend show sessions.
The staffing plan must also include assigning responsibility for booth set up, daily maintenance and take down.
Investigate, again in advance, which team members will take responsibility for what part of the reporting. One staffer should be responsible for gathering the feedback and assembling it into a report for the company.
By identifying the key contacts, company initiatives, competitor intelligence and session coverage along with the staffer responsible for this information, you can ensure you have a complete compilation of all the valuable information garnered at the show. Outlining in advance the next steps in those associations will yield a higher probability of closing the loop on those initiatives.
Company Team Building
Consider using the show as an opportunity for team building especially if staffers are coming in from locations around the country. You might consider targeting an early morning breakfast at the hotel or dinner meeting that does not conflict with the show festivities. Again this is a key opportunity for which advance planning is critical. The show is so busy – getting your team together at the last minute will be virtually impossible.
SPI Exhibitor Listing
Maximize your exhibitor listing online. A review of the exhibitor listings as of 9.10.13 revealed many companies have not taken advantage of this option to fully communicate their offering, key contacts and social media sites. Press releases and product information are great content for this listing as well and will help build a reason to visit your booth.
Construct the architecture of your booth on paper and review with your team in advance. Be sure the sales team has input on where they will talk with clients and prospects. Work with management to solicit input on meeting room needs. Understand how your booth will work to support each function needed by the team.
One booth dynamic often overlooked – where will everyone’s briefcases be stored? The last thing you want is to have all your work to create a functional and visually appealing booth go to the wayside with the clutter of laptop cases! Communicate to your team the parameters of the storage so you have the best chance of soliciting cooperation and a tidy booth.
Create an overarching marketing mantra or theme for your show participation. Use that theme throughout all your pre, during and post show marketing activities. This will lend coherence and excitement to your show participation.
Map out what types of customers you need to impact to ensure a strong ROI, their needs and how your offerings fulfill those needs. From this segmentation you can create messaging that will positively affect impact.
Your marketing should be directed at those client segments appropriate for the show, the message you want to communicate and utilize as many activation methods as possible. Review digital, social, public relations, online and offline possibilities to round out a comprehensive campaign. Be sure to include show Twitter and other social media tie in opportunities. For example, look for an update on the SPI #Tweet Up – more information to come!
Website | Blog Content
Promote your participation at the show with content on your website and blog. Depending on your business model you may be able to take back information to communicate to your base of customers.
Spark your pre show marketing by participating in next week’s #SolarChat. #SolarChat regularly trends on Twitter and generates up to 15 million or more impressions each session. It is a great way to reach solar industry participants, especially as the show draws near. Here is the link for your team to register: UPDATE FOR 2014 10/01/14 – Collaboration and Team Work: An Antidote to Solar Growth Pains? A special Pre #SPICon event
If you have not already investigated the status of your co-op funds with manufacturing partners, do so now. Don’t leave potential marketing budget funds on the table! Use them as appropriate to build out your marketing campaigns. Marketing partners can be terrific resources for idea generation, co-branding and campaign development.
Drawing in Visitors
How will your booth draw in visitors? What will be attention grabbing element that communicates your brand and encourages a deeper discussion in the booth? Be sure to review the location of your booth physically on the show floor to understand best vantage points.
What materials are needed in the booth and why? We are in a “green” industry. For example, you might consider offering a follow up email or business card sized piece with a QR code to a website page with key information. These would be options to cutting down on the amount of paper and could serve as a welcome reprieve for show attendees. Be sure you have input from each business division attending the show to meet their sales needs.
Check and Double Check
You will utilize your budget more effectively by understanding what is needed in the booth from the show organizers and booking it early. Once booked, check and double check your order with the organizers to give yourself the best chance of those elements showing up on time and correctly to your order. It is helpful to bring a binder with all the contracts, contact names, copy of invoices, etc so that you have all the information regarding your show orders.
Critical to a strong ROI on your SPI investment is lead generation. Think through how leads will be collected during the show and make sure the process is well understood by the team.
Customer and Prospect Follow Up
Outline the process and plan for your after show follow up before you get to Chicago. Again, make sure your sales team understands and has given input on the plan.
What are the ROI metrics you are measuring for success? Clearly outlining these key performance indicators (KPI’s) will help you understand how the show serves your overall business objectives and what measures are needed to ensure success. Of course you will need to have a clear accounting of your budget against which to match your results.
Post Show Survey
Poll team members after the show and ask for feedback on every area of your company’s participation. This will give you the data critical to ensuring continued improvement and higher show ROI.
About Glenna Wiseman
Glenna Wiseman is the founder of Identity3, a marketing services company leveraging the unique marketplace identity of solar, renewable energy and green economy companies to fuel their growth. Wiseman is a marketing and business building professional with 6 years’ experience in the solar industry. Her recent industry articles include What Women Really Want From A Solar Sale and Let’s Pick Up The PACE On Solar Funding. Email her at GWiseman@Identity3.com.