After reading Laura’s recent post about making the most of event attendance, I got to thinking about events and tradeshows and the effect they can have on a database’s health. As head of our research and database group here at OppSource, I’ve seen my fair share of databases, ranging from legacy databases that haven’t been touched in years to just-bought databases that haven’t been validated to everything in between.
As you might expect, the most incomplete and messiest databases typically come from an event or tradeshow–and the reason is simple: Marketers often go into a tradeshow or event with a plan on how to attract people to their booths (or, if attending and not exhibiting, have a plan of who they want to seek out and meet), but they don’t follow this all the way through to what they will do with the contacts they cultivate after the event. They have a great idea for starting a compelling conversation but have no plan for what to do with the contacts other than adding them all to an existing database, sending a follow-up email, and calling it a day.
The crowded show floor at the Consumer Electronics Show 2013 – better have a database plan for all these new contacts! (Image via Mashable)
With this thought in mind, I recommend that all marketers have a plan on what they will to do with the contacts they gain from a tradeshow–beyond just adding them to the database and sending a “Great seeing you in Tampa!” message. Some thoughts to consider:
- Every person you meet at an event will not be a fit. Do you want to include all contacts gained from the tradeshow into a follow-up campaign?
- If yes, what will you do when a contact responds to an email/offer and does not fit into your total addressable market?
- If no, how will you determine (either on-site or prior to database loading) who is the right fit?
- If the answer is maybe, how can you segment further reach-out efforts to maximize the effectiveness of your conversations?
- When are you going to determine if a contact fits into your total addressable market? Will you weed contacts out on-site or will the team back at the office deal with this? On-site can be difficult to manage, but you lose precious follow-up speed the longer it takes to get worthwhile contacts uploaded and usable.
- How are you going to flag the contact in your database as being attributed to the event? Will the flag be different depending on whether the contact already existed in your system?
- Are you planning to import all contacts into your system even if they have incomplete data? If not, who will be responsible for getting the data necessary to add them to your system?
Events are a great way to meet potential contacts and have one-to-one conversations you might not have had otherwise. Make the most of these interactions by arming yourself with a plan to make the most of the information you collect so that your database doesn’t ultimately suffer.