By Lenox Lizwi Mhlanga

The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair 2024 has concluded, marking the end of a successful event that brought together exhibitors, attendees, and industry professionals. As exhibitors, it is crucial to capitalize on the momentum generated during the exhibition by implementing effective post-exhibition strategies. These strategies will help exhibitors measure the impact of their participation, justify their attendance in future exhibitions, and convert leads into sales.

Public relations and marketing professionals play a crucial role in ensuring that the company’s presence at a trade exhibition translates into tangible results. This is where the concept of a post-trade exhibition strategy comes into play.

Measuring the Impact of Exhibiting
To measure the impact of exhibiting, exhibitors should focus on several key metrics, including the number and quality of Leads. Track the number of leads generated during the exhibition and their quality, ensuring that they are relevant to your products or services.

Calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) of the exhibition by comparing the revenue generated from leads with the costs incurred for the exhibit, staff, travel, marketing, and other related expenses.

Collect feedback from attendees, staff, and partners to understand their experience, satisfaction, and expectations. Measure the awareness created for the exhibitor’s products, services, and brand among the exhibition audience and beyond. The feedback from attendees and leads to understand their experience at the exhibition. This feedback can provide valuable insights for future exhibitions and help in improving the company’s overall marketing strategy.

Comparison with your goals with your industry’s standards in order to benchmark your exhibit’s performance  to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

The Value of Post-Trade Exhibition Strategy
A post-trade exhibition strategy is a structured plan of action that outlines how a company will capitalise on the leads, connections, and insights gained during a trade show. It involves a series of steps aimed at nurturing relationships, converting leads into customers, and maximizing the return on investment from the exhibition. While the focus during the event is on attracting attention and creating buzz, the real work begins once the exhibition doors close.

Post-Exhibition Follow-up Strategies
To convert leads into sales, you should implement the following post-exhibition follow-up strategies. Segment leads based on their level of interest, urgency, and fit to tailor follow-up messages and actions to each group. Make sure that you contact as soon as possible after the exhibition, ideally within 24 to 48 hours, while they still remember your offerings.

Personalised emails, phone calls, or meetings can help to move leads through the sales funnel. Focus on crafting effective emails that refer to prospect notes and set clear follow-up steps. Customized emails also demonstrate that your conversations made an impression, display the real value of the company, and receive a higher engagement rate. Be persistent in follow-up efforts, with a focus on timing, as exhibitors that follow up first close 30-50% of leads.

Create targeted content such as case studies, whitepapers, or social media posts that address the pain points of the leads collected at the exhibition. This content can help in establishing credibility and building trust with potential customers. This fed by the feedback and comments made by visitors to your stand.

Increase your social media engagement by utilising your social media platforms to engage with potential leads and attendees after the event. Share highlights from the exhibition, engage in conversations, and continue to showcase the company’s expertise in the industry.

After the exhibition, use the opportunity to meet other departments, especially the sales Team, work closely with them to ensure a seamless handover of leads and to align on the follow-up strategy. Collaboration between marketing and sales is essential for converting leads into customers.

Addressing Potential Objections from Finance
While public relations and marketing professionals understand the value of a post-trade exhibition strategy, they may encounter objections from the finance department within the organization. Common objections from finance people may include concerns about the additional costs involved in post-trade activities, the ROI of such strategies, and the allocation of resources.

To address these objections effectively, it is important to highlight that a well-executed post-trade exhibition strategy can significantly enhance the return on investment from the exhibition by converting leads into customers and driving revenue growth. The people from finance should be convinced that post-trade fair activities help in building and nurturing relationships with potential customers, partners, and industry influencers. Strong relationships are key to long-term business success.

Continued engagement with leads post-event enhances brand visibility, keeping the organisation top-of-mind and reinforces its brand presence in the industry. This visibility can lead to increased brand awareness and market share.

Finance people are easily converted by sharing valuable from  feedback and insights gathered from post-show activities. Such valuable data that can be used to make informed decisions for marketing and operation strategies as well as for future exhibition participation.

By emphasizing these benefits and demonstrating the potential impact of a post-trade exhibition strategy on the company’s bottom line, public relations and marketing professionals can effectively address objections from the finance and secure buy-in for their initiatives.

Conclusion
The implementation of a post-ZITF exhibition strategy is essential for public relations and marketing professionals to maximize the impact of their participation in such trade shows. By following a structured plan of action and taking proactive steps post-event, organisations can convert leads into customers, build relationships, and drive business growth. Addressing potential objections from finance by highlighting the key benefits of a post-trade strategy is crucial in gaining support and resources for these initiatives. Embracing the power of post-exhibition activities can set companies apart in a competitive market landscape and pave the way for sustained success in the long run.

Lenox Mhlanga is a strategic communication consultant who has worked with the World Bank and blue chip companies in and outside Zimbabwe. He runs Lenox Mhlanga & Associates, a boutique PR agency, and is a consultant with Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants. Contact him on mobile: +263 772 400 656 and email: lenox@magnacarta.co.zw