Quick Guide to a Great Roadshow
A roadshow is the perfect opportunity to spread your brand’s message to a wide-ranging audience in a fun and interactive way.
Whether leading your attendees through hands-on demos, hosting networking happy hours or throwing a party for your new product release, roadshows help you engage your audience in a memorable way.
Roadshows aren’t just great for your prospects, they’re great for your team. They get your sales team out from behind the phones and computers into the real world. Sales Account Execs tend to thrive in fun, face-to-face professional interactions so a roadshow is the perfect setting for them to network with prospects and close deals.
The great thing about roadshows is they can be designed to scale. Once you have your content and format figured out, your event can be repeated across your sales region. Hosting a unique experience to deliver your content will keep your prospects engaged and moving through the funnel.
1. Plan for Everything
Roadshows require “quality planning from all angles.” What can happen will happen and you can save your team some headaches by diligently planning every detail of your roadshow.
From content to promotion to measuring success post-event, every detail should be thought of and accounted for. When planning a roadshow, consider what can go wrong will eventually go wrong - you must have contingency plans. Yes, that’s ‘plans’ plural.
Whether a speaker calls in sick, technical difficulties strike, the venue is suddenly closed, catering falls through or a guest gets sick (hopefully not this one), you should have already thought of all the little things that could go wrong and have a back-up plan prepared.
Remember to overestimate your necessary resources. Nothing can slow down a roadshow like being unprepared for your guests. Make sure you have enough food for everyone and that amenities (toilets, trashcans, giveaways) are overstocked. If your guests are traveling, help them arrange accommodations.
On a more technical note, make sure your check-in system is prepared for heavy traffic - nothing worse than turning off a qualified lead because of a poor check-in experience. Also, don’t take wifi for granted! Many venues require you to pay for access. Make sure your guests have the wireless capabilities they need.
Take advantage of your teams’ skills. If you have someone particularly skilled at small-talk, have them run the check-in desk. If you have someone comfortable with IT keep them on standby for ever-present tech issues.
There are too many moving parts at a roadshow for any one person to track and your team undoubtedly has work commitments outside the event. Consider hiring an experienced event manager if you don’t already have one.
Have a plan, have a back-up plan, and have a back-up-back-up plan. No roadshow will go off without a hitch but by preparing for the worst you’ll be able to adapt in the moment and carry your event through.
2. Think Inclusively
Consider the city and venue you host your event in. Is your venue accessible and LGBTQ friendly? Attendees will be more engaged if they feel included so consider who you’re hosting and where.
Open a chat box on your reg page where attendees can specify any necessary accommodations. Don’t ask for pronouns unless it’s absolutely necessary and if you must, do it in the form of blank slates where attendees can write in their preferred pronouns.
Also be thoughtful around the language you use. It’s an easy and impactful change to encourage your speakers and your team to welcome “distinguished guests” instead of “ladies and gentlemen,” and to use ‘their’ instead of ‘his’ or ‘her.’
Seemingly simple things can make a big difference. Most importantly, be open to feedback and work to create an environment where all your guests feel safe, comfortable and welcome.
3. Promote Across the Board
Event promotion is a marketing tale as old as time so don’t let it get stale! There are plenty of creative ways to get attendees to your roadshow. Focus on what has worked well in the past, but also be open to trying new ways to drive roadshow registrations (Instagram story anyone?).
Remember the classics like social media advertising, email outreach and discovery sites like Eventbrite, and look into new avenues like podcast advertising and influencer partnerships.
There are a myriad of free and/or affordable ways to promote your event:
- Create an event hashtag
- Have a pre-conference social media contest
- Reach out to influencers or journalists and offer them admittance in return for coverage
- Launch recurring blog with updates as the event gets closer
- Release teaser content
- And remember to try a registration solution!
And don’t forget to use your team. Help them use their networks and connections to get the word out about the roadshow. You can equip them with email copy, social, posts, outreach templates etc. to make sure they are comfortable promoting the event.
Remember that not all outreach has to be fancy or paid. Registrations can come from simple approaches, you just have to see what works for you.
4. Customize to your Audience
Who is your audience? What are their pain points? When are they looking to buy? Where are they (physically) and where are they in the funnel? Why would they choose your product over another? And how can you solve their pain points?
Use your existing data to answer the W5H and tailor your outreach to your target audience in as few words as possible. As mentioned before, be sure to engage your audience on social media. Find the platforms they’re most active on and join the discourse - don’t be afraid to capitalize on FOMO!
If you’ve answered your W5H, curating your event content should be no problem. Consider the age of your attendees, their level of education, their professional titles and the like when designing your event messaging.
Remember that your messaging and content will likely change based on where your roadshow is being hosted. Learn about the discourse of your audience and use it to convey your message. And be sure to recycle these social and content strategies for post-event follow-up!
To assist your customization efforts, use your existing data (past attendee, customer, website) to create audience profiles to attract the right attendees and design your messaging/sales strategy accordingly.
Once you understand where your audience is in the pipeline and what their pain points are, you can begin honing your event messaging. Articulate to them why the event matters: How will it impact them? What will they bring back to the office that they couldn’t get somewhere else?
Again, make sure to take advantage of multiple channels. Just because someone registers doesn’t mean they will attend. You should do all you can to make sure your audience knows they’ll be getting quality content that’s relevant to them.
Don’t miss a messaging opportunity anywhere.
Above all, make your roadshow series unique and memorable. Whether you focus on having a stellar line-up of speakers, demonstrating your products or just showing your audience a good time, give your attendees something to remember, and start moving them through the funnel.