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

lead generation

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

The 3 Most Important Reasons to Exhibit at a Tradeshow

Well, actually, you can probably narrow it down to the one most important reason to exhibit at a tradeshow: to build your business! To grow! To see your bottom line increase!

Sure, but in a sense, pretty much any good reason you can think of to exhibit has a chance to fall into the top three of any list, depending on your company’s overall goals. And remember that your specific goals can, and probably will, change from show to show.

important reasons to exhibit at tradeshows

So let’s start with reason Number One. To generate leads. Not just any leads, but qualified leads. The definition can vary from business to business, but it boils down to this: a prospect who has shown interest to buy, is qualified to buy, and is planning on making a decision in the near future to purchase whatever it is you’re selling. So let’s be clear on what a lead is NOT. A lead is not a business card that lands in a fishbowl where you’re giving away a par if Bluetooth speakers. A lead is NOT scanning a badge of virtually anyone who passes through. No, a lead is ONLY someone who has passed the tests of being interested, having the ability to pay your price and are in the process of making a decision soon. And by exhibiting at the right shows, your company is reaching markets and new leads that would otherwise be difficult and expensive to reach.

The second most important reason to exhibit at a tradeshow is to show off your brand. A damn fine exhibit can do that in the most eloquent and engaging way. But your exhibit is not the only thing that represents your brand, although it’s critical. First impressions are imprinted on visitors’ minds, and they carry that impression with them for a long time. But beyond that, the impression your people leave is as important than your exhibit, and probably more so.  Is your booth staff friendly, prepared and trained to handle the onslaught of visitors and the chaos of a tradeshow floor?

The third most important reason to exhibit at tradeshows? I hinted at it in reason number one: the expansion of your market reach. Bob Moore, the iconic Bob of Bob’s Red Mill, has stated in more than one interview that their consistent exhibiting at tradeshows gives them access to markets they could not otherwise reach. Period. When you exhibit at tradeshows, be prepared to interact with potential clients that are in a position to either purchase your products or services, or help you bring them to new audiences that will help grow your sales.

There are other reasons to exhibit at tradeshows, but by focusing on these three items, all other reasons will almost take care of themselves.


Check our Exhibit Design Search tool now.

Create Tradeshow Buzz

How do you create tradeshow buzz? You know the one: the exhibit that keeps getting talked about. Don’t you want to be that exhibit? Don’t you want to be working at that one location where everyone seems to be heading?

create tradeshow buzz

Buzz is not something you can automatically turn on like a light switch. And even the best-laid plans to create buzz don’t always work, especially if some other company has gotten a plan afoot to outbuzz you!

A few things to consider that may get you to the place where you are creating buzz:

  • Giveaways: do you have that one thing that people want to have? Do you have that one game that everyone wants to play?
  • Interactivity: what is it people are doing in your booth that draws a crowd. Is it a virtual reality station? Is it a hands-on demo that leaves people talking?
  • In-booth demos: with the right pitch man or woman pitching the right product or service at the right show, a crowd can magically appear. Is it because the demonstrator is doing baffling magic along with a pitch? Is it because of their charisma and stage presence?
  • Celebrities: face it – most celebrities at shows are not the top name draws, such as Brad Pitt, Will Smith or Jennifer Lawrence. But there are a lot of second-tier celebrities (and third and fourth) that may mean something to your target market.

Beyond the in-booth activities, or the exhibit itself (which, is a stunner, can create buzz), look beyond:

  • Public Relations: Prior to the show, connect with influencers who might be interested in your products or services. Media, bloggers, industry wags and more can help build advance buzz.
  • Advance planning: get the word out before the show using pre-show advertising, social media engagement, direct mail, email, broadcast and internet opportunities as you see fit.
  • Press conference: if your product launch is truly newsworthy (and you should confirm that with industry media folks), throw a press conference. If you’re not used to putting on a good press conference, hire a pro.
  • Be crazy: this takes chutzpah and frankly, most companies probably don’t have it. But if your CEO is a leading edge person with an outlandish outlook, maybe saying something crazy about your product or service will bring people to your exhibit.
  • Unusual promotions: Spy at Moz was a promotion that invited attendees to track down ‘spies’ at the conference who were waring special red stickers, take a picture and then tweet it out. If you can co-promote with a couple of other exhibitors, the word will spread quickly.

It may be somewhat trite as an expression, but thinking out of the box can go a long way to generating tradeshow buzz. What are you willing to try next time?

Getting to the Truth

What’s the truth about your tradeshow appearance? Did you get as many visitors as you think you did? Was your product launch as successful as you felt it was? Was your staff as helpful and experienced as you anticipated?

truth

Getting to the truth of what’s going on is important. A recent Seth Godin blog post made me think of the same topic in relation to your tradeshow appearances. As Godin put it, your results are based on the honesty and accuracy of the information you have at hand.

If you think you got 1500 visitors to your booth a day, but it was really only 1000, your final analysis of ROI and lead generation will be skewed. If you graded 300 leads as “hot” when in fact only half of them were really “hot,” your sales crew will be disappointed when they begin their follow up.

Truth and the subsequent results are based on trust, as Godin observes. If truth gets lost somewhere, trust is lost. An opinion is just that. A fact, however, is a fact. If it’s measurable and verifiable, you can call it a fact. If it’s an observation based on gut feeling or instinct or experience, it’s just an opinion. Learn to separate the two.

After all, if you felt the tradeshow appearance was the best ever, yet the sales that result from the appearance felt far short of being the ‘best,’ perhaps your appearance wasn’t the best ever.

Count everything you can, and make sure the counting is accurate. That way you’ll know if your tradeshow marketing is working, or if it needs a lot more work.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 6, 2017 [video replay & podcast]

On this week’s coffee, I spend some time going over the question of asking better questions. If we learn to ask better questions, we’ll get better information. So what does it take to ask better questions? Take a look:

Notes from this week’s vlog:

Fast Company article by Stephanie Vlozza

Lifehack Article

TED talk on asking better questions

ONE GOOD THING: The Portland International Airport


Audio Podcast Version:


Get the free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

Don’t Sell at the Tradeshow

Huh? Don’t sell at the tradeshow? Isn’t that why you’re there – to take names and kick ass? Sure, you won’t get an argument from me.

sell at the tradeshow

However, let’s take a look at the tradeshow situation. The event is designed to bring hundreds or thousands of people by your booth. If your intent is to sell – and just sell products at the event – then you’re going to spend more time with each person. It takes time to write up an order, and depending on your product or service, it probably takes time to determine exactly what that service or product is. How long is the service going to last? What version of your product is best for your client? When do they want it? What is their goal in using your product or service and can it really help them?

Sure, if you’re just selling single pack food items or something that can be sold in just a few seconds, they go ahead – sell, sell, sell!

Most products take longer. Even if you’re ultimately selling a single food product, you may be trying to get into more stores, or hook up with distributors. Which means you’re not actually selling at the show.

You’re just qualifying.

And once you qualify, you both then agree on the next step.

And that’s when the real selling begins.


Grab our free report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: February 6, 2017 [video replay]

On this morning’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee – the Bob Marley Birthday Show – we discuss lead generation as it pertains to TradeshowGuy Exhibits (and maybe your company!), and communication as it relates to managing projects. Of course, we end up discussing more.

And for some inexplicable reason, I managed to forget the ONE GOOD THING that I was hoping to include. And that is the digital version of the New York Times, of which I’m a subscriber. But more pointedly, I’d like to mention the daily mini-crossword puzzle, which takes a minute or two and is a good little kick-starter first thing in the morning.

Sign up for continued access to our live webcast atTradeshowGuyWebinars.comhttp://TradeshowGuyWebinars.com – and check the archives, too.

Five Mistakes You’re Making at the Tradeshow

More than two-thirds of exhibitors do not have a solid plan in place and end up making mistakes at the tradeshow as they exhibit.

5 mistakes you're making at the tradeshow

In fact, not having an organized, comprehensive plan is one of the most common mistakes that exhibitors make.

And it’s safe to say that nearly all exhibitors don’t have a solid grasp of the metrics of their success or failure that comes from that tradeshow appearance. Why? Because companies tend to put all of their energy, time and money into putting on a good show, and very little into counting the results after the end of the show. Measuring your results – leads, sales closed – is one of the most critical measurements you can make.

Let’s look at some of the common mistakes you might make as you exhibit at the tradeshow.

  • First, you don’t have a comprehensive plan. This means going from A-Z and planning to cover all your bases, from pre-show marketing and show execution to having an exhibit that accurately represents your brand and communicates your message to counting leads and sales after the show is done. Know what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, how you’re planning to get back your return on the investment and where your tradeshow appearance fits in your overall marketing strategy.
  • Secondly, you may have the wrong people in the booth. Tradeshow floors are a chaotic busy mess where hundreds or thousands of people come and go all day long. Without proper preparation, which usually means staff training and picking the right people, you’ll end up with sales people or other staffers that can’t interact with precision, veracity and alacrity with those visitors. They’re not asking proper questions, they’re letting big fish get away and they’re spending too much time on little fish or people that won’t ever buy.
  • Third: you’re repeating yourself. Do you ever see the same company at the same show with the same exhibit year after year, showing off the same products? On close examination it seems nothing really changes from year to year. A company that’s on top of their game will upgrade the booth regularly or replace it when necessary; they’ll have new products to show off and new ways of interacting with visitors.
  • Fourth: you’re cheapening your brand by having inappropriate brand ambassadors in your booth. Pretty models in skimpy outfits may attract a crowd, but they do nothing to improve or define your company’s brand unless, of course, your brand is built on pretty models in skimpy outfits. Otherwise, in today’s climate, exhibiting in the US using those types of representatives will likely get you negative feedback.
  • Fifth: the biggest tradeshow marketing sin of all – you’re not following up on all of those leads in a timely manner. The fact that tradeshow leads are cheaper by the dozen and more targeted than any other kind of lead, coupled with the fact that your competitors have many of the same leads in their bucket, means that you must strike while the iron is hot. Letting a lead sit more than a few weeks means it grows colder and colder until you might as well toss it out with the other dead fish.

We all make mistakes – it’s part of life – but the more you can minimize mistakes with oodles of tradeshow marketing dollars on the table, the better off you’ll be.


Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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