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Maximize Your ROI from the Microsoft WPC Expo

Whether the investment you make in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) Expo is time spent visiting the booths or tens of thousands of dollars as an exhibitor, you will up your return with thoughtful planning. As hard as it is to focus during WPC with sessions, old friends and parties all vying for your attention, you need a solid plan to make sure you leave with concrete revenue opportunities.

Make the Most of Your Expo Visit
As an attendee, you should plan your time in the Expo hall just like you do for sessions. Ask your consulting team for two lists -- the top customer challenges and the ISVs with most potential. With those lists in hand, you can focus on specific vendors, but keep an eye out for new players that solve an emerging problem.

With clear goals, you can ask the questions that will qualify the fit of vendor solutions quickly. You do both the vendors and yourself a favor by disqualifying yourself when the solution is not what you were looking for. Spend time with the exhibitors that have the potential to drive substantial service revenue for your business.

Get Full Value from Your Expo Booth
Based on the investment of time and money as an exhibitor at WPC, your planning should be well underway by now. According to Jeff Hilton, founder of The Alliance for Channel Success, you should break your planning into three phases:

  1. Pre-conference marketing to get people to your booth.
  2. Conference practices that will qualify visitors and move them through a specific lead-generation process.
  3. Post-conference follow-up.

A common theme in Hilton's advice for planning at all phases is to clearly define the partners you want to target. "You can't deal with 15,000 people and you don't want to fill up your pipeline with the wrong set of those 15,000," Hilton said. "The trick is getting to the right partners."

A simple, focused message is more likely to attract attention from your best prospects than a broad approach. "This year, the layout of the Expo will be a little different, with product focus areas," Hilton explained. "You are likely to have competitors as neighbors, so it's even more important to have a highly targeted, differentiating message."

As visitors enter your booth, questions designed to immediately qualify good prospects will help your staff focus their attention where it counts. "You should have people pre-assigned to handle the deeper levels of engagement for good prospects," Hilton advised. "Your staff out front should identify the right people and move them into the booth for the deeper conversations."    

Post-conference activities are historically where most exhibitors stumble. "It's amazing how many companies don't follow up after an event," Hilton said. "It goes back to leads. If you flood the sales people with a stack of unqualified leads, they are going to give up and not pursue them."  

Coming back to the importance of defining your best prospect, Hilton recommends that you prioritize the leads. Sales people should follow up with the top prospects quickly, delivering a clear value proposition. A plan to nurture the remaining leads through marketing should be in place and executed while the show is still fresh in attendees' minds.

Advice from the Experts
If you would like to get more advice from the experts, The Alliance for Channel Success is holding a webinar with more recommendations for WPC exhibitors on May 15 at 12 p.m. Central time. To attend or view the recording, go here. Attendees will receive a copy of the It's Showtime! booth and exhibiting planning toolkit (or you can contact Hilton to get a copy of the toolkit).

The Time To Plan Is Now
WPC 2014 is set to kick off on July 13. Whether you are an attendee or an exhibitor, it makes sense to plan ahead to make the most of your time at WPC. Obvious advice, but these eight weeks until WPC are going to pass before you know it. As an attendee, the Expo provides the opportunity to find a vendor to help you uncover more service revenue. As an exhibitor, you want to be ready when your next best partner walks into the booth.

How are you getting ready for WPC? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on May 15, 2014