Thousands of hunting, outdoor and firearms companies register for SHOT Show each year to showcase new products, evaluate the competition, network and attract dealers/distributors.
From booth design and construction, marketing collateral, travel, accommodations, sponsorships, and the hassle of transporting your products to and from SHOT Show, costs can begin to pile up.
As a business owner, sale professional or marketer, you want to make the most out of your SHOT Show investment because so much goes into making it a success. For some companies, it’s the one and only chance they’ll have all year to make their sales quotas, determine if their new products have merit and to foster new business relationships.
For others, it’s just another marketing program to check off the list. In this post, I’ve outlined six consecutive ways to optimize your SHOT Show registration and ROI and get more out of next year’s SHOT Show (or any other hunting, outdoor and firearms industry trade show).
1. Calculate your ROI
With so much time, money and effort invested in SHOT Show—one might ask: Am I getting the most out of it? What am I missing? In order for the next 5 points to make sense, you need to start by understanding how to calculate your ROI so you have a benchmark on what you need to break even.
Use this simple equation: (Gross Profit – Marketing Expenses) / Marketing Expenses
Example SHOT Show costs (Team of 8):
- 10×20 booth, design, production, registration and space: $40,000
- Party for team and A-list customers: $16,000
- Flights and travel: $7,000
- Accommodations: $12,000 ($299/night at the Palazzo)
- SWAG: $5,000
- Food/other: $20,000
Total Costs: $100,000
Gross Profits = $______
ROI = (Gross Profit – $100,000) / $100,000
*The above does not take into account the annualized return of a customer over time or (LTV).
Use this calculation to establish your benchmarks and sales goals. This can also help you decide whether or not SHOT Show is worth attending next year.
2. Establish your buyer persona
Do you really know who your customers are? The answer is probably “yes,” but you need to take it a step further. Have you taken the time to understand what their pain points and biggest challenges are? Where do they go for information? What do they expect from a product or service like yours? By conducting research on your *ideal* customer, you’ll be able to have a more useful conversation with prospective distributors and dealers when it comes time to make the introduction. Whether you manufacture hunting knives, optics, rifles, tree stands or hunting apparel—knowing your buyer persona is the first step in getting a higher trade show ROI.
3. Create a downloadable offer
Last year’s SHOT Show may have been a success, but did you connect with those prospects you didn’t have time to talk to? In the melee of the “gotta-meet-this guy,” handshakes and small talk, you may have missed that one prospect that was ready to place a substantial purchase order. This is where creating a content offer comes into play. By creating an ebook, media kit, whitepaper or video that answers your prospects’ questions, you will be able to re-engage, hold their interest and attention through your website and track their responses by gathering their contact information in return for a free downloadable offer. This is a great way to maximize your lead generation efforts because it builds your brand and thought leadership—regardless of whether or not you scanned their badge.
4. Add CTAs to your SHOT Show Advertising
Now that you have a content offer, place a call to action (or CTA) on all of your SHOT Show materials and advertisements, including your business cards, pop-up banners, demo screens, catalog, brochure or dealer receipts. Add a call to action that tells your prospect what to do next by visiting your website to download your free offer. When you get them to your landing page, ask the right questions to understand who they are, what company they are with and what they are most interested in. This information will give you a good understanding of how to best approach them. Use other suggested offers to further their engagement.
5. Follow-up and utilize a CRM
After the show, be sure to follow-up promptly. Data has shown the faster you follow-up, the higher the likelihood you will convert your prospect to a customer. Utilize your CRM to close the loop on your prospects and to stay organized. This will also help you calculate ROI and LTV.
- 50% of sales go to the first salesperson to contact the prospect. (Source: Inside Sales)
- If you follow up with a web lead within 5 minutes, you’re nine times more likely to convert them. (Source: Inside Sales)
Don’t overlook social media—especially Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. SHOT Show is a great way to build your network for future social selling and content marketing initiatives. You should be tweeting and posting your day’s activities to create some buzz. Just make sure you’re only taking pictures of your booth.
6. Nurture leads with email marketing
Sometimes your prospect may need a little nurturing to get them across the finish line, especially if you’re a new brand. This is where you can use their contact data to send emails for additional content offers in order to move them down your sales funnel. Create content based on the three buyer stages: Awareness –> Consideration –> Decision.
- Email marketing has a 2x higher ROI than cold calling, networking or trade shows. (Source: Marketing Sherpa)
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: The Annuitas Group)
7. Is SHOT Show worth it?
For smaller, less-known brands, exhibiting at SHOT show is an immense expense that may bring little in return. Your marketing dollars could be better spent elsewhere over the year to build your brand’s awareness. When small brands and clients ask me about SHOT, my response is: “if you’re not there, you’re not there.” It’s great to be with other people in the industry, see the latest products, catch up with friends, and meet new prospects and clients. However, if you walk away with no purchase orders, media coverage, a valuable contact, or feeling like it wasn’t worth it—you may want to use your marketing budget to invest in improving your product or building your brand. Try attending again in a year or two so you’ll have a good group of dealers who are interested in seeing and buying your product to make your SHOT show worth it.
If you have attended SHOT Show (or are considering registering), you know the chaos, cost and exhaustion it takes to attend, exhibit and finish successfully. You can maximize your lead generation efforts by calculating your ROI, establishing your buyer persona, creating a downloadable offer on your website, adding CTAs to your trade show collateral, following up promptly, utilizing your CRM and nurturing leads through email marketing. These tactics will give you a better ROI at your next big industry trade show.