To many, spending a few days at a solar show feels like a waste of time. Shouldn’t you be out there knocking on doors? But if you play your cards right, shows and conferences can yield an impressive return on investment. The trick: be prepared.
Here are a few simple tips to help you get your money’s worth.
1. Event Selection
Carefully select the events you attend. It’s crucial to choose events that align with your business goals, target audience, and industry focus. Attending random events that are not relevant to your business may not yield a significant ROI.
2. Presentation Opportunities
If the event allows for presentations or speaking engagements, consider speaking at the event or encouraging your team to share their expertise in the solar industry. This can position your business as an authority and generate interest from a broader audience. Get in touch with event organizers at least 6 months before the event to explore opportunities they may have for speaking or presenting.
3. Have a clear objective
The first step to evaluating the outcome of any critical business decision or expense is to be as precise as possible in defining how you will measure success. Once you have internally agreed on your strategy and performance indicators, communicate them as widely and explicitly as possible throughout your team. Ensuring everyone on the floor clearly understands their role and mission is key to hitting those numbers.
Here are a few goals you might set for your team at a national conference.
- Generate 100 new leads
- Attract 50 people to your talk or workshop
- Meet ten key partnership or supplier leads
- Book 10 follow-up appointments for the week after the event
4. Do your homework
If the world belongs to those who rise early, the conference belongs to those who prepare early. If you arrive on the first day without knowing who is attending, who is presenting, how the space is laid out, and which workshops are relevant for your team, you are already two steps behind. Often, event organizers like Intersolar will release a list of attendees and speakers in the weeks before the event, so there is no excuse for your team to wander or miss important workshops.
Here are some of the things you can prepare ahead of time.
- A clear schedule to ensure you have someone in each of the relevant talks or workshops • Available/optimal time slots to book meetings with potential partners
- Nearby spaces or areas to host meetings or informal chats
- Competitions or awards you want to apply for
- Key attendees you want to connect with before the conference ends
- Hashtags or social media groups you can leverage for visibility
- Competitors you want to scope out on the expo floor
5. Create a seamless lead funnel
We have spoken about the importance of methodically following through on each of your leads, which rarely holds truer than in a conference setting. If all goes well, you will leave the event with dozens of new leads, so you need to make sure you have a clear, systematic way of categorizing, tracking, and contacting them to ensure none of them fall through the cracks.
Here are a few questions you will want to ask yourself before hitting the expo floor.
- What information do I need from each lead?
- How will I quickly collect their data? (Hot tip: forms with less than four fields result in higher conversion!)
- Will leads get an automated message or email when filling out the form?
- How will I define and characterize each lead to prioritize them appropriately?
- How soon after the event will I follow up with those leads?
- What kind of information or incentive would be most powerful for these specific leads?
6. Offer limited time incentives
One of the best ways to get people to act quickly or to foster loyalty is to create limited-time incentives. We have previously shown you how to create and apply those incentives within Solargraf easily, so you are ready to get creative and empower your team with great promotions.
The key here is to offer different incentives for different actions and steps in the lead process. Here are some ideas for solar incentives that might help you build momentum and urgency around an event:
- Fill out a lead form for a free solar checklist or guide
- Sign up for a free consultation today and get $2k credit on your installation
- Use promo code $OLAR$AVINGS for a free solar monitor
7. Networking is Key
Be sure your team understands the importance of networking with fellow attendees, competitors, and industry experts. Building relationships can lead to partnerships, collaborations, and valuable insights. Encourage your team to engage in meaningful conversations and exchange contact information.
8. Elevate Your Booth
If you plan to have an exhibition booth, provide tips on how to make it engaging and attractive. High quality visuals, interactive displays, and engaging activities can draw attendees to your booth, increasing your chances of meaningful interactions. Allow attendees to engage in a hands-on activity. For example, when the Solargraf team attends a show, we invite attendees to use our software to create a proposal to show how quickly and easily it is done.
Make it a habit that the team take pictures or notes about booths or displays they like to inspire future booths. Your booth should be ever evolving and improving.
9. Capture Data Efficiently
In addition to using lead forms, consider using QR codes or mobile apps to capture attendee information quickly. This can streamline the data collection process and enhance the attendee experience.
10. Flexibility and Adaptability
Encourage your team to remain flexible and adaptable during the event. Unexpected opportunities or changes in plans may arise, so being open to adjustments can help you make the most of the conference.
11. Document Success Stories
Share success stories from previous conferences to inspire your team. These real-life examples can demonstrate the tangible benefits of attending such events and motivate your team to maximize their efforts. After this conference wraps up, ask the team to share success stories so you can use them to inspire before the next event.
11. Post-Event Follow-Up
Having a well-defined plan for reaching out to leads after the conference is essential. Be sure everyone is using CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, like Salesforce or HubSpot, to keep track of interactions and schedule follow-up calls or emails.
13. Measure and Analyze
Measure and analyze the ROI after the event. Track the leads generated, conversions, and any partnerships or collaborations that result from the event. Use these insights to refine your strategy for future conferences.
14. Measure the Cost
Measure the overall cost of attending the event. This should include not just registration fees but also travel, accommodation, and promotional materials. Calculating the total cost will help you determine if the event was truly worthwhile.