Posts Tagged ‘tradeshow leads’

Panning for Gold: Tradeshow Marketing

Posted on: August 14th, 2015 by admin No Comments

screen.shotFinding the best possible leads at a trade show is akin to prospecting for gold. You look around, ask a few open-ended questions, and hope you strike it rich. But that’s only the first part of the equation. After that, someone has to close the sale.

In business we talk about ‘closing the sale’ as the final, definitive action and it’s up to the sales team to accomplish. Unlike the normal sales process, at trade shows the ‘close’ is not necessarily getting someone to sign on the bottom line.  It is usually about collecting enough information on the prospect to warrant interest from sales.

The best place to find this information is by asking the sales team what, to them, defines a qualified lead, because only then will they follow up. This list of attributes, called lead qualifiers, determine the difference between a hot lead and a tire kicker. Even more important, we need to have a means of collecting and quantifying this data.

What are good qualifiers? My first question, or qualifier, is always some version of, “Can you write a check or issue the purchase order?” As a qualifier, this translates to job title and responsibilities. I also want to know if a budget has been allocated for my product and when the prospect plans to complete the purchase. Another key question is who else will be involved in the decision making process.

Asking these questions and collecting these details always precede a sales pitch of any kind because good prospects will usually tell you everything you need to know to customize your presentation in terms of their needs a wants. Now is the time to trap the name and contact information on the person.

Next, you want to provide information to the prospect that supports your presentation. This may include a video of a process, a case study, a letter of recommendation from a satisfied customer or a brochure of core competencies.

How you trap this data, distribute marketing collateral, and get it into your corporate CRM database (customer relationship management) is much easier today than ever before because technology makes it quick and painless. It also allows you to determine the value of your exhibit marketing by tracking trade show leads from the first touchpoint through to the sale.

A recent study on lead generation said over 60% of exhibitors have no formal lead scoring or ranking process. Without defining what constitutes an A lead versus a C lead, there’s no consistency for follow-up. Worse, a majority of exhibitors are still collecting business cards, using hand written lead forms, or getting a basic scanner from the show organizer.

Instead of printing (and shipping) collateral and renting a single scanner, a good lead management app that works on cell phones and tablets will be both more cost-efficient and give you better data afterwards. It means all your exhibit staffers can have a personal lead data collector, lets them qualify and rank each lead, distribute collateral, and define the type of follow-up required.

Today’s marketers need the best information possible to justify their exhibit programs. Technology provides the best solutions to accomplish this. And leads that convert to sales will win you gold.

Author: Margit Weisgal. CME, MSc    Twitter: @msmargit

Blue Stone Business Development

Margit has a real talent for envisioning goals, crafting the necessary plans, and nursing those plans to fruition. She’s is a passionate professional with the drive and determination to take on even the toughest challenges. And she always does it with keen insight and good humor. She is a tireless motivator and innovator and is constantly thinking through ways to make those around her better.


Moving Beyond Notes on the Back of Business Cards

Posted on: November 16th, 2012 by admin No Comments

crowd of peopleWant to hear the worst follow-up phone call to a contact you met at a trade show? It goes something like this.

You: Hi, It’s Jason Smith with ABC Company and we met last week at the Green Show.

Contact: Yes I remember you. What can I do for you?

You: We only had a few short minutes to talk about your situation at the show. The purpose of my call today is to arrange to get together to discuss your concerns and see if there is something that I can do to help.

Contact: Sounds good.

You: How about next Wednesday?

Contact: Sure, what time?

So far this sounds pretty good. Now here comes the bad part.

You: Before we commit to a time I have a few quick questions to ask.

Contact: Sure. What do you need to know?

You: What exactly is the scope of the situation you are trying to solve?

Contact: Huh!

You: Where are you located?
Do you make the decisions for this change?
Have you allocated a budget?

Contact: Wait a minute. Didn’t you ask me those questions when we met at the show?

You: Yes, but…

Contact: Why are you asking me again?

The answer to the contact’s last question is simple. You forgot.

The solution is to ensure that you record all of the contact’s information when you first meet so the follow-up phone call can be seamless and simply a continuation of the conversation rather that starting all over again.

Numerous industry studies have shown that nearly eight percent of all leads are mishandled. One of the reasons for this lost opportunity is that the leads collected at the show were less that adequate in the first place.

Taking leads at a trade show is all about quality rather than quantity. A handful of good quality leads puts you in a stronger position to convert those leads to business than a pile of business cards or ballots.

The trick is to ensure that the information learned about the contact is recorded on the spot. One big mistake many exhibitors still make is writing contact information on the back of business cards. There are a number of problems with this:

  1. The back of a business card is small and therefore restricts the amount of information you can record. It also means that without a formal recording tool, business card leads are inconsistent from one to the next. This puts your salespeople or dealers and reps at a disadvantage when they follow up because they know very little about the contact before they make the call.
  2. Many companies print on both sides of their business card. If you had planned to write information on the business card, you are now stuck.
  3. Many companies use electronic business cards. Now you are really stuck
  4. Many cultures take great pride in their business cards and it might be a personal offence to write on the back.

To avoid the business card pitfall ensure that you have arranged to use some form of lead recording technology in your plans. There are three choices:

  1. The electronic lead retrieval system. You have probably seen many of these devices in use. They take the form of scanners, QR readers, Card swipe, Smartphone apps etc. Over all these tools are excellent methods of gathering contact information. Many of these systems can be customized allowing you to enter specific fields of information that will help you when following up.
  2. A manual lead sheet. This is a simple low-tech solution for those situations where your organizer does not provide an electronic system. Your lead sheet is a pre-printed form that acts as a script for your sales people to follow to ensure that they gather consistent information from contact to contact. (For a copy of my lead sheet template e-mail me at
  3. A hybrid is used in the situation where the electronic system only provides you with part of the information you need. You can then supplement it with a manual lead sheet and gather the bits of information you still require.

Business has moved beyond taking lead information on the back of a business card. To be truly successful at your next show give some serious consideration to the technology you will use to record contact information. One further thought. Once you have decided on how you will gather information, train your staff so they are comfortable getting the information you need.

About the Author
Jon Edelman provides exciting trade show marketing ideas, including advice about prize wheels, customizable scratch-off cards, money blowing machines, and other exciting trade show attractions. With years of experience in the trenches, he is an expert on booth displays, lead generation techniques, and networking with trade show vendors. Helping to build a referral-generating system, his ideas continuously lead to a boost in sales and revenue.

Successful Trade Show Marketing

Posted on: November 5th, 2012 by admin No Comments

Successful Trade Show Marketing

Trade shows have grown to become the number one business-to-business marketing medium.  Why are a growing number of companies marketing themselves at trade shows?
Trade shows provide a unique opportunity that cannot be replicated in any other type of venue. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) revealed the following about exhibitions:

  • 88% of attendees have not been seen by a member of your company’s sales staff in the preceding 12 months
  • Seven out of ten attendees plan to buy one or more products
  • 76% asked for quotes and 26% signed purchase orders (average all shows)
  • 72% of show visitors say the show influenced their buying decision
  • 87% of attendees will share some of the information obtained at an exhibition
  • 64% of attendees tell at least 6 other people about the event
  • 58% attend only the show in which you are exhibiting
  • 40% are first-time attendees
  • It costs 22% less to contact a potential buyer at a show than it does through traditional field sales calls

While trade shows are worthwhile, they are not easy.  To get the most out of trade shows, exhibit marketers set measurable objectives, pick good shows, design effective exhibits, and more.  Read on to discover the main elements of a successful trade show marketing program.

Setting Objectives and Measurable Results

The first step in planning your trade show success is to set effective and realistic trade show objectives and measurements for them.  Effectively planning your show’s objectives allows the rest of your show to fall into place. Choosing the right measurement tools enables you to draw the correct conclusions following your trade show performance.

The first question to ask is the most basic:  Why are you exhibiting?  While most go to generate leads and build awareness of their brand or products, many also exhibit to build relationships or introduce new products.

Once you know the reason you are exhibiting, set objectives based on them that you can measure – and then measure and report them.  Measurable objectives range from simple lead counts (200 leads at the XYZ Show) to Return On Investment goals (Generate $10 in sales for every $1 spent exhibiting at the XYZ Show).

Select The Right Shows

With over 13,000 trade shows, conferences, expositions, private and business-to-business events in North America, featuring 1.5 million exhibiting companies vying for the attention of over 100 million attendees, it can be daunting to select where your efforts are best spent. However, there is a method to help you find the best opportunities to market your organization at trade shows.

To start, select the shows you want to exhibit at only after you have set your trade show objectives. Then dig in to do some serious background research. The best bet is to look at the trade shows in your industry and carefully weigh the options. Talk to your fellow employees — what shows have worked in the past?  Where do sales people see the customer’s needs leaning? Look at whose going to be there. Talk to your current and prospective customers — is this a show they will be attending?  While you may exhibit well at your large industry show, also consider smaller shows that have a higher proportion of people likely to be interested in your products or services.

Space Selection: Where and How Big?

The average trade show has over 400 exhibitors, so how do you choose the best booth space for you? Most shows give space-picking priority to the exhibitors who have been with them the longest. Yet some studies have found that where you are in the show hall has no effect on the amount of audience you receive to your booth. For every veteran exhibitor that requires a space in the center of the action, or at the front entrance to the hall, or near their biggest competitor, there are veteran exhibitors who flee from the same locations. All the same, the size of your booth space is a very important decision, where you must weigh the need to stand out from your competitors with a large booth, and yet having enough budget to exhibit at all the worthwhile shows for your company.

Budgeting: Planning saves you time and money

Exhibiting can be complex. A large part of that challenge is identifying how much to budget for related services.  The easiest way to estimate your overall budget for exhibiting at a show is to take the cost to rent the exhibit space, and multiply it by three. So if renting a 10-foot by 10-foot exhibit at a show costs $2,000, then the overall show costs are usually about $6,000.

The biggest expenditures after booth space is staffer’s travel, hotel, and meal costs, show services such as installation and dismantle, the cost to build or rent your exhibit, and shipping.

A large portion of show services costs is called drayage, which is the cost to bring your exhibit and crates from outside the show hall to your exhibit space.  Sometimes it can even be as expensive as the cost to ship your exhibit from your city to the show.  The trend for exhibitors is towards lighter weight, more modular exhibits that lower costs like shipping and drayage.

Planning avoids rush charges and lets you figure out how to do the most shows with the fewest exhibit properties.

Exhibit Design:  Make Your Exhibit a Marketing Tool

Why does exhibit design matter? Because a well-designed exhibit is so effective at cutting through the trade show clutter and getting your message to your target audience. The average trade show attendee will spend 7 to 8 hours on the floor over a period of 2 to 3 days visiting an average of 25-31 exhibits. This leaves 5 to 15 minutes per visit – just 5 to 15 minutes to make a lasting impression that will give you an edge over the competition.

Create an exhibit that works as a true marketing tool.  Make sure your exhibit graphics say who you are, what you do, and what is your benefit to prospects.  When you state those clearly, you’ll bring in more visitors – and more qualified visitors.

Your exhibit is more than a three-dimensional ad. It’s actually a temporary workspace, filled with booth staffers there for hours or days, and visitors there for just a few minutes. Increase productivity by giving them enough space to work in, and by designing around their needs, be it for gathering leads, demonstrating product, meeting with key people, or storing their personal items.

Get More Traffic With Trade Show Promotions

Trade show promotions are the secret weapon of the veteran trade show manager. That’s because, when done right, trade show promotions work so well.

Consider these two items:

1. The average trade show has over 400 exhibitors, where the average attendee will visit about 21 exhibits, and that average attendee walks into the show with a list of 75% of the exhibits he/she wants to see. That means you have to get on their dance card before the show.

2. You can boost your trade show lead counts by 33% with trade show promotions – even thought they require a much smaller percentage of your budget.

So, trade show promotions are money well spent. Pre-show promotions are the things you do before the show to make attendees want to visit your booth.  At-show promotions are the activities and trade show giveaway items you do during the show to bring in more attendees into your exhibit.

Just be sure to pick promotions that bring in your desired target audience, not just anyone at the show.  And don’t just give things away – get information about prospects in exchange that will help you qualify and prioritize your leads.

Train Your Booth Staff So They’re Comfortable At Shows

85% of the positive feelings visitors have are due to the staff.  Your booth staff is responsible for drawing in your customers, effectively engaging them and creating leads. Because of this, it is important that you select the most effective staffers that your company has to offer. If they are sales people, you have to train them to adapt their selling style to the trade show floor. If they are not salespeople, guess what – they can still do extremely well, given the proper preparation.

Trade show staffing is uncomfortable for almost everyone at first.  You will give your booth staffer greater comfort and confidence by training them to understand and follow a 4-step booth staffing process:

1. Engage: 30 seconds
Start the process by stopping attendees.  Prepare and practice questions that won’t get a yes or no answer.

2. Qualify: 2 minutes
Determine if the prospect is worth presenting to … and what to present.

3. Present: 10 minutes
Demo on just the prospect’s needs, not everything you know. Prepare for common objections and questions.

4. Close: 1 minute
Lead card complete? Agree on the next step and go on to the next lead!

Lead Management, Not Lead Neglect

Astoundingly, almost 80% of leads generated are never followed, according to the Center For Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).  Rather than sending your hard-fought trade show leads into the abyss, strive to be part of the elite 20% that actually follow up on their leads!  We’ve heard horror stories of exhibits pulled out of storage to prepare for a show – only to find the leads from the previous show still packed with the exhibit. What a tragedy!

Rather than just sending a business card from the prospect on to your field sales reps, provide and train your staffers to use a lead card.  It’s a half sheet of paper that has check boxes to the most common qualifying questions, and room for notes about what the attendee said in your booth.  Your sales reps will be much more likely to follow up on a lead when they know what to say, and that it’s worth the call.

Also, think of your first day back from the show as the last day of the show.  Have your lead fulfillment packages prepared ahead of time, so you can send your responses right away.

Measuring Results Improves Future Performance

Once you return from a trade show it is important to measure its success.  Why?  Because while trade shows are a great marketing medium, you still have to prove the value of your individual program.  This information can be used to report to management the effectiveness of the show and to improve exhibit performance for future shows. Success can be measured by simple lead counts, or better yet, by the return on investment, or whatever objectives you set when you started your trade show program.

By tracking your results from show to show, you can make informed decisions about which shows to continue, expand, contract, or cut.  And when you are armed with data proving the value of your overall trade show program, you can maintain – and even expand – your trade show marketing efforts.

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