Get the Most Out of NAFA Institute & Expo with This Marketing Checklist and On-Site Timeline

To maximize the branding value and sales lead to the success of your exhibit or participation at the April 22 NAFA Institute and Exposition in San Antonio, fleet solutions providers must take a strategic approach, led by marketing in conjunction with sales but involving customer-facing account, customer service, and C-level managers to help strengthen customer relationships. 

Initial Steps

The first step is for marketing and sales to set clear objectives. The primary goal is most often generating as many leads as possible, but because the sales journey is long and complicated, prospect and customer contact requires an account-based marketing, or ABM, plan. 

The next step is to create a compelling agenda and experience. This involves planning engaging content that aligns with the set goals and resonates with the target audience.

Engagement with customers should extend beyond the event itself. It should start before the event, continue during the event, and extend after the event. Continuous engagement is a powerful strategy for boosting lead conversion.

In today’s digital age, leveraging technology and analytics is a must. Data tracking can provide valuable insights to assist with future lead generation.

Remember, inclusivity and thoughtfulness go a long way. The more the audience feels noticed and responded to, the more successful the event will be. These actions help create a memorable experience that stays in people’s minds long after the event.

1. Confirm who from your company is attending the show. What IT staff, customer service people, management, and sales reps must support the booth during exhibit hours and company events? Why go if a sales rep still needs to arrange customer or prospect meetings?

2. Release a NAFA I&E information packet for all company attendees with the NAFA schedule of events, company activities, and assignments (especially booth duty and competitive information-gathering). Explain what sales reps’ post-NAFA activity reports should include: Customer/prospect names? Meeting locations? Sales objectives? Goals achieved?

3. Finalize media interviews for your executives or SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) with all pertinent press (whom marketing has already determined will be there).

4. Double-check that all registration, exhibit, marketing, and event logistics are planned, scheduled, and under control before departure.

5. Use your Social Media and website posts — especially pictures and videos — to promote your company’s presence and plans for the coming week’s on-site digital social media reports.

6. On the first day of the I&E, send a broadcast “welcome” email to customers and prospects while highlighting the scope of the company’s conference involvement. As applicable, promote corporate sponsorship, the company’s Expo exhibit, drawings or giveaways, educational session participation by managers or customers, and company outings or dinners. Be sure to provide the company’s on-site contact information!

7. Conduct a pre-exhibit hall opening meeting for company attendees at your exhibit for sales and support staff. Topics to cover include the manning schedule, the roles of sales, IT, or other representatives in the booth, the exhibit theme or message, the demonstration process, giveaways or drawing requirements, available literature, lead collection, and any special handling of specific visitors.

8. Sales should pursue face-to-face opportunities to drive customers to the booth and company events, especially education sessions involving company and customer presenters. Impress upon the entire team, and DO NOT drag fleet managers away from NAFA’s official events! This ongoing problem reflects poorly on the offending company and all affiliates.

9. check out your Exhibit Space reservation for next year’s NAFA. Size up the competition and traffic patterns, then decide if you want a better location or a bigger footprint.

10. Post Conference: Disseminate leads to sales reps and add follow-up actions to the company’s CRM. After the event, analyzing the results and using the data collected to refine the strategy for future events is crucial.


Here’s a helpful timeline of the best practices fleet solutions providers should adopt before NAFA:

Early March: Have your sales team submit the names of all customers and prospects they will contact to see if they plan on attending. What are the sales objectives of meeting at the conference? Once it is confirmed that customers or prospects will attend the conference, keep in touch to coordinate contact. Is there a pre-conference event? Are there demos in the booth, conference speakers, or networking events where you can meet? Know the conference agenda and map out recommended venues in the area. 

If a sales rep or customer-facing manager has only a few or no customers or prospects in attendance, is there a good reason to attend? 

Promote any company events, undertake registration for customer events, and conduct an ongoing promotion of your company’s events during the conference through social media channels, email blasts to customers and prospects, trade association news channels, and trade media.

Mid-March: Ensure that all registration, exhibit, marketing, speaker, and event logistics are planned, scheduled, and controlled before departure.

Early to April: Release a NAFA I&E information packet for all company attendees with the NAFA schedule of events, company activities, and assignments (especially booth duty, conference session attendees, and competitive information-gathering assignments). Explain what attendee post-NAFA activity reports should include, e.g., customer or prospect names, customer comments, concerns, needs, or competitive information, and follow-up actions required. 

Finalize media interviews with all pertinent press (whom marketing has already determined will be there) for your company’s executives or SMEs (Subject Matter Experts).

During the Conference: Send out a broadcast email from management to all customers and prospects welcoming them to the conference while highlighting your corporate sponsorship (when applicable), encouraging them to visit your company’s exhibit (especially if you have an incentive to promote, or reminder them of your sponsored event(s). Promote your corporate theme tied to NAFA and your team’s involvement in any educational sessions, and invite them to join a company event (if there’s room).

Conduct a pre-exhibit hall opening meeting in your exhibit to explain the process for handling visitors to sales and support staff. What are the roles of sales, IT, or other representative? What is the exhibit theme or message? How will visitors be handled? Demo? Giveaways? Literature and its use? What is the best use of SMEs? Presentations? Leads collected? Are there unique visits that need to be strategized?

Work daily on social media, website, and email. Remember, photos and videos capture reader interest! Encourage every member of your team in attendance to take pictures of groups of prospects and customers with company attendees during conferences or company events.

Encourage the sales team to bring customers to the company exhibit, to attend sessions involving company speakers, or to NAFA social activities where company representatives are on hand to meet and greet. Do NOT drag fleet managers away from NAFA’s official events, even if it’s a great day for golf! Fleet managers raise this issue yearly in their post-event surveys, even if they don’t raise it with you! The practice reflects poorly on all affiliates.

Exhibit space for next year’s selection process begins at this show! If you want a better space, be prepared to make some decisions during the show!

Post NAFA I&E:  Attendees should complete their post-NAFA contact summaries to help determine whether or not this year’s goals were achieved and to help continuously improve show results for the future.

Watch for “NAFA Request for Presentations” for the following year’s NAFA I&E educational sessions. The NAFA Curriculum Committee makes its decisions about the following year’s education schedule before the end of the year!  

Also, before the end of the year, budgeting for next year is finalized, and management evaluates the value of the marketing place. Be prepared to produce results that quantify value to determine next year’s NAFA I&E budget!

To learn more about how a fleet solutions provider can get maximum value from its investment in the NAFA conference, contact Fleet Management Weekly’s Brand Acceleration fleet marketing consultant Ed Pierce at no cost and with no obligation. Phone: (484) 957-1246, Email: [email protected]