Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

lead generation

Are You Getting the Best Results from Your Tradeshow Lead Generation Tactics?

Face it: you and your competitors are going head-to-head in tradeshow lead generation. But are you really getting the best results you can possibly get?

If your main goal for going to a tradeshow is to generate leads for future sales, you’ll need to focus on that aspect of your tradeshow marketing program to maximize results. Sure, you also have to have other pieces of the puzzle in place, such as branding, messaging, booth function and more, but if your ultimate goal at the tradeshow is to come away with a bag full of good leads, maybe it’s time for a deep dive into what that takes.

tradeshow lead generation

Establish what you want for a good lead. What does it mean to you and your team? After all, not just any old person that stops by and kicks a tire in your booth, so to speak, is a lead. Determine what will you accept as a lead by defining what that is – and get very specific.

The first thing you have to know is if the booth visitor uses your product.

Next, find out if they are shopping around for a company that provides what you provide. There’s a good chance since they’re at a tradeshow that was organized to specifically draw a crowd in your market.

Third, determine who is the decision maker. If you’re speaking to that person, great. If not, can the person you’re talking speak for them, or direct you to them?

Fourth, do they have a budget to purchase your product? If they don’t have a budget, they’re not really a prospect. They’re ‘pie-in-the-sky’ at this point. It doesn’t mean they won’t have a budget in the future, but for now, they’re not a hot lead.

Finally, you need to know when they’re going to make that decision. If it’s not some far-off future date, but is closer to today’s date, that gives you all the information you need for a HOT lead.

Once you’ve done all of this, you can safely grade your leads. Or if they don’t pass the “lead” test they may become someone that can make a referral. Or they’re off your list for good if you don’t think they’ll ever lead to any business via a direct lead or referral.

The leads can be graded HOT, WARM or COOL. But frankly, I usually only use HOT and WARM. HOT is obvious: it’s a lead that needs to be followed up on quickly because there is an explicit and stated desire for your product. WARM is probably a little more flexible depending on your product, sales cycle and so forth. COOL may only apply to those that you know the bare minimum: they will at least use your product occasionally but have no immediate interest or desire or budget or you don’t know the decision maker. So this puts them in the COOL pile but given their at least occasional use they are not a DISCARD.

In any event, the better your planning and the more thorough execution on your tradeshow lead generation tactics, the better your results.

 

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: October 23, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

Richard Erschik of TradeshowLeadstoSales.com joins me for a fun and very useful conversation about how to generate (and follow up with) great leads at your next tradeshow. What are the five questions you need to ask before you’ve identified a good lead? Watch or listen now:

 

This Week’s ONE GOOD THING: Clean My Mac software.

7 Quirky Interactive Things to Do at a Tradeshow

Another list! Would any of these interactive things help to draw a crowd to your tradeshow booth?

  1. Create a small box with a lock. Have a bin full of keys – only one of the keys opens the box. Each person that comes by your booth can try a key or two. Once the key has been tried, it goes into the discard bin. As the keys (say, a couple of hundred) slowly go down to just a few, more and more people will keep trying to get the thing to open. Once the prize box has been opened the winner gets a prize, and another prize is inserted in the box and you start all over again.
    Tradeshow interactive things
  2. Create a large-than-life size front page newspaper mockup. Out of some solid substrate, like sintra. Have a hole cut in it so that people can stand behind it and get their picture taken for posting on social media. Invite people to sign up for a newsletter or something else for a chance to win some cool stuff, or just give them some swag if they post the photo on their social media accounts.
  3. Make a big Jenga set, only have each block relate to a specific question or topic that relates to your product or industry. Once someone pulls a block, you can talk about the topic, answer the question, and find out of the visitor has any questions about the topic.
  4. Bean bag games such as bean bag toss, or bean bag Tic-Tac-Toe.
  5. Give away LED flashing pins with your logo. Tell the visitor that a ‘secret shopper’ is going to be walking around the tradeshow floor giving away swag to people wearing the flashy things.
  6. Use tradeshow special printed flooring that gives visitors opportunities to photograph themselves standing there. How about a spot with footprints and some clever graphic and text including a hashtag phrase?
  7. Get a promotional robot.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee – September 11, 2017

We are awash in data, no matter what business we’re in. TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson talks with Oz du Soleil of ExcelOnFire (YouTube channel) about how to handle all of that data: how to make sure it’s clean, how to analyze it and much more.

ONE GOOD THING: For Oz, it’s cigars. For me, it’s the beginning of football season – college and pro!

9 Tips for Closing More Tradeshow Leads

This is a guest post by Charles Dugan of American Image Displays


There is no such thing as a closing a sale by luck at a trade show. The process of generating and closing leads is defined even before the event begins. Believe it or not, although most exhibitors collect leads during the trade show, many of them have no plan in place for following up. According to a study by Exhibitor Media Group, 98 percent of trade show exhibitors collect sales leads at trade shows, but less than 70 percent have a formalized process in place to follow up on those leads.

Trade show success is a result of strategic actions taken before, during, and after the show.

closing more tradeshow leads

Before the Show

The actions you take during the pre-show phase will directly impact how effective you are at generating quality leads. Here are four  pre-show tips:

  1. Choose the right show

When it comes to choosing which shows to attend, think quality over quantity. It’s better to select a show that has one hundred attendees with a need for your product, than a show with thousands of attendees who aren’t looking for the type of solution you offer. Select trade shows based on industry, location and size; events where there are high quality leads that fit your customer profile.

  1. Perfect your pitch

Make sure to practice your pitch before the show. You should be able to answer questions fluidly and naturally, building attendees’ trust in your knowledge and authority.

  1. Reaching out to attendees

View the trade show’s mailing list (if available) to see who will be attending the event. Reach out to these individuals and introduce yourself through email or social media. LinkedIn works especially well for this.

  1. Implement a lead collection system

Whether your system is as simple as jotting down each lead’s information on a clipboard or as complex as using a full-scale CRM software; be sure it allows information to be recorded efficiently and in an organized manner. Collect as much important information as possible. These details can come in handy later during the follow-up.

During the Show

Follow these steps during the show to build rapport and set the stage for a successful close.

  1. Reserve a private room

Consider renting a private room. Trade shows can be noisy and busy. By reserving a private room, you will have a quiet place to bring leads to answer their questions, discuss pricing, and even draw up contracts; without the distraction of the surrounding convention.

  1. Utilize call to actions

Use every appropriate opportunity to prompt attendees to complete a specific action. These call to actions could include signing up for a free trial or a demo, or scheduling a consultation. At the end of each interaction, let each person know what to expect for the next steps – whether it be an e-mail, a phone call, or another form of contact.

After the Show

The trade show may be over, but the job is not done yet! Follow these tips to close more leads post-show.

  1. Persistence

Be persistent in your follow-up, but understand there is a fine line between persistence and annoyance. If you can, mention something specific about your conversation during the first follow-up message so they remember your interaction.

  1. Network with social media

Invite leads to connect with you on LinkedIn or other social channels. This way, they are part of your network for the long-term and can become more familiar with your business.

  1. Tailor your message

Don’t use the same follow up message after every show. If your email looks like a form letter, it will be ignored. Instead, tailor your message to each lead. Be friendly and always make yourself available to answer questions.

Conclusion

If there is one reason to attend a trade show, it is to earn more business. Remember that successful lead conversion doesn’t start or end at the show. Have a plan in place to ensure you have the best chance of attracting quality leads to your exhibit, and closing deals.


About the Author

Charles Dugan is the President and Owner of American Image Displays, a trade show display and equipment company based in Seattle. He has over 20 years of experience consulting businesses with their trade show marketing.

5 Most Common Mistakes People Make with Tradeshow Post-Show Follow-Up

Tradeshow post-show follow-up is one of the critical keys to your tradeshow marketing success. In recent conversations with exhibitors, there often seems to be some hedging around the concept of complete follow-up. In other words, there are some missing pieces and the leads that are generated at a tradeshow – at great expense – are not always followed up in a timely manner, if they’re followed up at all. So let’s look at some of the most common mistakes people make with post-show follow-up.

  1. Not grading or evaluating the leads. If a sales person that is tasked to follow-up on the leads can’t tell the difference between a HOT lead and a COOL lead, it makes the task of follow-up that much harder.
  2. post-show follow-up

    Not being specific about the details of the follow-up. Some prospects want a sample sent next week. Others just want a sales sheet PDF forwarded in a month. Others want an in-person meeting in two weeks. Whatever the follow-up is, it should be noted on the lead sheet so that the person doing the follow-up understands exactly what is needed.

  3. Not tracking the response from the follow-up. Whether you use Salesforce, and Excel spread sheet or a custom CRM, once the follow-up is initially made, notes on what happened during that follow-up should be entered in detail. Most follow-ups require more than one step. In fact, if it’s a bigger sale, the process may involve several steps and more than one or two people. Keeping detailed notes along the way will ensure a better chance at success. With NO formal system in place to track the follow-up process, your chances of success drop drastically!
  4. Not following up in a timely manner. This mistake usually comes from not asking the prospect the question: when would you like us to follow up? If both parties understand when the follow-up is expected – and it actually happens at the right time – chances of closing a sale increase. In the event that no timeframe was addressed, it’s safe to say that the sooner you follow up the better your chances of making a sale. Some experts say do an initial follow-up via email within 24 hours. Others say that making a phone call within 48 – 72 hours after the show shows the prospect that you have a genuine interest in them. I realize that some people are just impossible to reach in a week, or two, or three, or more. In that case (which has happened to me), keep trying.
  5. Giving up. Even if you can’t get in touch with someone right away, keep in mind that you have no idea why they’re unreachable or unresponsive. It could be they’re suddenly wearing three hats at work and simply don’t have the time – or a personal issue may be preventing them from even working. Who knows? Don’t assume they don’t want to talk to you until you actually hear that from their own lips. I’ve made sales to people that were hard to reach for months – but when I finally did reach them, we made something work.

One of the first things I heard when I entered the tradeshow industry in 2002 was that “80% of leads are never followed up on!”  It astonished me then and it astonishes me now. It’s one of the most fixable mistakes that tradeshow marketers have. Do yourself and your company a favor and do your best to not be a part of that statistic. Make the effort and follow-up!

Why It’s Easier to Succeed with Pre-Show Marketing Than You Might Think

pre-show marketing

When it comes to achieving tradeshow success, actual time spent at the tradeshow gets all the attention – so where does that leave pre-show marketing? Out in the cold, of course.

So bring pre-show marketing out of the cold and into the daylight.

The two questions to address are simple: what is my pre-show outreach, and who do I reach out to?

The ideal scenario of pre-show outreach is built on multiple touches: email, snail mail (postcards are good and cost-effective), and social media. Each of these could be broken down a bit more. Mailings could include more than just a postcard: if you have some high-value prospects in mind, send something a little more special and high-end that whets their appetite and gets them to your booth. Social media can include tweets and Facebook posts about your new products and services, or industry-famous guests at your booth. You can also create videos to promote your appearance at the show and share those as well.

So who gets the communication? The first channel to address would be your in-house list of clients, prospects and those that have inquired over the years. They know who you are and even if they’re not planning on going to the tradeshow, your invitation may help them change their mind. At the very least, they’ll know you’re exhibiting, which shows them you care enough about your company and brand to put it out there for all to see.

The second channel is to use a list provided by show organizers. But don’t just assume you can import the information into a spreadsheet and do a mail-merge and click send or print. No, you should go over the list to weed out competitors and non-prospects so they aren’t on the receiving end of your pitch.

It sounds easy – and in theory, it is. But pre-show marketing takes time and attention to detail. Create a plan that includes a timeline for each item, and then create the content and promotional material that will go out. Once execution of the plan is underway, track results as best as possible, and of course do your best to track the names and companies that actually responded and showed up to your exhibit.

The Anatomy of Great Tradeshow Lead Generation

What does it take for great tradeshow lead generation? Success comes mainly from paying attention to details. For instance, you probably made the effort at your last tradeshow to either scan someone’s badge, or got a business card and made a few notes on the back. But to really go the distance for a great lead, know that the success comes in executing the follow-up.

tradeshow lead generation

Naturally, you’ve gotten the lead’s name, company and contact info. But to be thorough, make sure that you’ve also got:

What product or service they’re interested in: be specific

How best they prefer to get a sample, if desired. Is it email, snail mail, telephone call, in-person visit?

When do they prefer to be contacted for follow-up? Date and time of day that works best for their schedule.

Where? If you are meeting offsite, such as a coffee shop, confirm the address. If it’s at their place of business, make sure you have the right address and not a satellite office or production facility.

Who are you meeting with? Is it just the main contact, or will there be other people involved?

Why are you meeting? Is the meeting a preliminary discussion, or is it to close a sale, or something in between?

When I was in journalism class in high school, we were instructed to get the 5 W’s and the 1 H: who, what where, when, why and how. It’s the same with sales follow-up.

Finally, make sure that your prospect understands the method of follow-up, along with the other pieces so that there is no mutual mystification – make sure all parties understand what is going to happen and when.

Once you’ve done that, you’ve nailed down a good lead. You’ve done your job on tradeshow lead generation. Now go close the sale!

What Does a Tradeshow Manager Do?

It’s a good question: what does a tradeshow manager do? And frankly, you can come at this question from a few angles.

For instance, is the tradeshow manager (or coordinator, or project manager) employed by the company internally, to make sure the tradeshow appearance is as flawless and successful as possible? Does the tradeshow coordinator work for an exhibit house, tasked with making sure the new (or stored) exhibit is shipped to arrive on time, and get set up, dismantled and shipped back? Or does the company find a third party to coordinate the logistics from show to show on an as-needed basis?

TRADESHOW MANAGER

There are several things to determine, such as: what is the scope of work? What tasks are expected of the tradeshow coordinator? Is there a marketing department that makes decisions on which shows to attend? Who determines the budget and where does that money come from? And so on.

Wearing several hats is not uncommon for someone with the larger and somewhat vague title of tradeshow coordinator. Mainly, she is responsible for:

  • Determining what shows to go to (usually in coordination with a larger team that vets the various options)
  • Scheduling or securing the booth space and coordinating logistics such as electricity, internet, cleaning, badge scanner and more
  • Work with vendors such as exhibit houses or printers for any updates to the exhibit
  • Scheduling exhibit shipping, I&D (installation and dismantle), return shipping, storage
  • Booth staffer hiring, training, scheduling and coordination of any special clothing such as branded t-shirts; develop and/or coordinate any pre-conference training for staffers
  • Coordinate with sales and marketing for any special product demos, etc.
  • Hire in-booth presenters if needed
  • Track expenses as required
  • Coordinate lead generation activities, system and delivery of leads to sales post-show
  • Pre-show marketing: mailers, emails, any specific phone invitations
  • Post-show follow-up communication
  • Record keeping: maintain show schedules, project checklists, exhibit management, photos from each show, logistic and travel expenses show to show and year over year

Each individual position may include more or less from this list, but these are the main tasks on a tradeshow manager’s job description list.

And, just for fun, I looked at tradeshow manager job listings across the USA recently. There are a ton of openings. Just sayin.’

 

It’s All in the Follow-Through

When I was a kid, my basketball coach used to tell me to follow through on shooting free throws and making basic passes. When I started playing golf, the instructor told me to be sure to follow through on my swing.

Frankly, I wasn’t impressed. My instinct was to believe that the initial movement, not the follow through, was important. Hell, the follow through had nothing to do with the original shot or pass or golf swing, so what was the point?

follow through

But have you tried to swing a golf club without doing a proper follow through? It’s like you’re doing half a swing. How do you pull up short? Even if the club swing has nothing to do with the trajectory or distance of the ball, for some reason, it does play an important part.

Same thing with your tradeshow marketing. If you don’t have a good follow through, you’re only doing half the show. And in your tradeshow efforts, it makes a bigger difference than your free throw or golf swing, because without a good follow through or follow up, you’re leaving money on the table. A LOT of money. In fact, it could be said that without a good follow up on your tradeshow marketing after the show, you might as well not go.

When I first got into the business of tradeshow marketing, the one statistic that stood out like a sore thumb was that almost 8 out of 10 tradeshow leads are NOT followed up on. That’s still pretty true. Yup, somewhere between 70 to 80% of tradeshow leads don’t get followed up on for any number of the following reasons:

  • Not properly scored (cool, warm, hot), so the sales person making the call has no idea where the prospect is in the sales process.
  • Incomplete contact information.
  • Incomplete follow up info: what does the prospect want from the call and when does she expect the follow up?
  • Lost between the show and the office.
  • Sales people don’t understand the importance or urgency of the lead, so it sits on their desk for way too long until it doesn’t matter anymore.

Any of these means that money is left on the table. Follow up is simple.

And speaking of follow through / follow up: Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

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