The industry event of the year is over. The spark has faded, the dust has settled and you are back at your desk counting the tons of business cards you have been handed. You have spent bucket-loads of time and money on this event and yet, the number of sales remains stagnant. Frustration sets in. What did you do wrong?

If you have approached the trade show with an inbound marketing mind-set, you’ve most probably had a dedicated marketing strategy in place, an editorial calendar and a set of social media practices established months before the event.

At the trade show you will have deployed all existing tools from your social media arsenal, tweeting using the event hashtag, publishing updates on all relevant social media channels, and sharing insights from the show on your blog. The savviest of marketers will have even considered a mechanism for capturing lead data and tracking metrics aimed at measuring ROI from the event.

But once a trade show has ended, is it truly over? Some companies may happen to think so and may as a result succumb to despair, promising never to invest in an industry event again. But not making any on-site sales does not necessarily mean your participation has been a waste of time.

In fact, for many businesses a trade show connection is only the first (hopefully, out of many) touch points with a prospect. It may take a while for a trade show-generated lead to turn into a customer. This makes it critical to resume the communication with your prospects straight after the show.

Here are four post-trade show imperatives for squeezing the most out of an industry event:

1. Address any questions you have been asked by prospects in dedicated blog posts and relevant LinkedIn groups. This way you will make sure the content you publish is truly relevant to your personas.

2. Trade shows are mostly about sharing expertise and thought leadership so why not invite an industry expert attendee to write a guest blog for you on the issues that were discussed at the show? This way your readers will be kept in the loop and the appearance of an expert will make your content more sharable.

3. Don’t let people forget about you – keep the conversation with prospects and industry figures alive. Share any pictures, videos, presentations, interviews with the world and, of course, posting everything on your blog will maximise your chances of increasing web traffic.

4. As you engage with your prospects after the show, don’t forget to measure performance. Ask yourself: “Did I reach my targets? What was the ROI of the event? How effective was my inbound marketing campaign?” Take the lessons and apply them next time.

These are, in a nutshell, the main after-show best practices that we have seen produce results for us and our clients.

There is one crucial thing to remember– make sure you don’t lose the momentum. Impressions from the show may linger for a few days to a week but taper off quickly afterwards – so you surely want to tap into the buzz while it is fresh.

So act quickly, be social, keep the content relevant and the results will come!

Photo credit: dumbledad, Flickr/Creative Commons