How I got 30 leads from a Tradeshow… and I wasn’t even there!

I founded Board Studios about 5.5 years ago to help B2B companies explain their complex solutions and engage their audiences more effectively. There are so many companies with cutting-edge solutions but their founders have tremendous difficulty explaining what they do. I’m very passionate about helping these teams solve the “last mile problem”…

Tradeshows are essential for B2B sales

Putting my money where my mouth is, I built and grew the business past the $1 million mark within a year using video ads.  It’s a great “starter” strategy but after years of climbing up the ladder to bigger clients, we had to switch towards content marketing and events.

You can’t get a Fortune 100 client through video ads… (even though it’s still helpful to build awareness that way).  You need to get some face time to engage them, show that you’re a real company, trustworthy, and someone they want to do business with.  Digital/video ads won’t sell $10,000 projects by themselves.

But attending events while running a growing business can be a challenge

We haven’t scaled to a level where we can have an army of marketers and sales people attending all the events where our solutions are relevant.  That would be pretty much any event where complex solutions are presented, as this case-study video explains.

Events require tons of time to prepare, and then you have travel expenses, and time spent out of the office.

The solution

So we came up with the idea of outsourcing our events marketing channel to professional sales reps.  They’re pros at what they’re doing and all-in more cost-effective compared to diverting our lean team’s attention.  

So we educate a couple of sales rep pros and send them to key events, testing what kind of traction we get back.  When an event yields lots of leads, then we can make it a core target and send out own people (or continue leveraging the sales reps if they’re getting great results).

How did it work out?

One event that we tested was Money2020.  We’ve worked with the conference organizers in the past and we work with lots of FinTech companies.

It cost around $2,000 for an early-bird ticket to attend.  Then another $1,000 or so for flight and accommodation for a couple of days.  And $3,000 for the service, which included preparation (getting prospects’ contact info, emailing them before the event to schedule meetings), “working” the event, and following up.  All-in cost = $6,000.

Compare that to the cost of an employee, who will be distracted from core work at least 1 week before the event, then a few days to attend the event, and at least a week afterwards following up and recuperating.

Was it worth it?

In return, we got 30 hot leads.  Companies with bad videos at their booths that immediately recognized they needed help.  Others with multiple-product lines that have been thinking about video to explain & sell them.  And others that wanted to have a more strategic discussion about video in order to optimize their budget.  All great leads for our differentiated services.

Of the 30 leads, 5 converted to clients within a 6-month period following the event.  The average “spend” per client was $7,500.  So we generated revenue of $37,500 and built relationships that can lead to many follow-on projects.  For comparison, we converted our investment to an effective “commission” of 15% (dividing the all-in cost to the direct revenue generated).

This is how much the industry tends to pay for referrals, and in this case follow-on revenue didn’t have any “commission” attached to it.  So overall it worked better than referrals!  And if you compare it to having a dedicated sales person…

For much larger customer lifetime values (CLTVs), having an SDR/sales team may work better, but for our price point we can’t support a sales infrastructure.  And these days if you want to compete in sales, you need a very fine-tuned team and tech stack because it’s soooo competitive.  Companies with large CLTVs have a distinct advantage because they can hire the best sales people.  So we don’t employ sales people and don’t compete there.  We also don’t like pestering our prospects because we feel it can reflect poorly on the brand we’re building.

What’s next?

The “outsourced sales rep” strategy worked so well for us that a) we continue employing it to win large, long term clients who value building a personal relationship, and b) we added it in the roster of services at our sister agency, which helps qualifying companies test marketing channels @ cost (meaning there’s zero profit margin, until they find a channel that works).


Founder of Board Studios Inc, an animation production agency that helps B2B companies simplify and communicate more effectively. Specializing in B2B makes a big difference because we know what information your clients need, what works and what doesn’t. B2B communications can be very different than B2C, so if you get your video explainer from a B2C agency you may not get the results you deserve.

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