It’s no secret that lead generation is one of the primary reasons most exhibitors attend trade shows. In addition, trade shows often receive the greatest percentage of the marketing budget allocation. Marketing activities centered on trade shows can be extensive, and planning for one can (and should) take several months. That being said, it really is critically important to get the most bang for your buck. I recently attended the Trade Show during SXSW. While there, I was struck by how the majority of the booth attendants handled lead generation. I didn’t have a SXSW badge as I was a “single-day” conference attendee, so many companies were unsure about how to gather my information. Most of them [9 out of 10] did not attempt to get my information through other means.
Without contact information for a potential lead, there is no way to follow up with them. A simple way to deal with this problem would be to collect business cards or to use a simple method of pen and paper and import the information into the CRM system later.
Here are a few additional tips I gathered from SXSW to help ensure trade show success:
- Promote yourself before, during, and after the show: Pre- and post-show marketing can be as important as what happens when you’re actually at the show. Prior to the show, let prospects or current customers know that you will be attending and offer them incentives for visiting your booth. After the show, the sales and marketing teams should meet to discuss the results, as well as a plan on how to move forward.
- Get contact information from everyone: Make sure that booth visitors don’t slip through the cracks and have back-up methods available in case your primary lead information gathering method doesn’t work. Send a “thank you” message to all those who attended your booth, and follow up with potential customers in the appropriate manner.
- Train Your Booth Staff: Only utilize people who are educated about your company. Conduct training sessions prior to the event to ensure that booth attendants know what to say and how to conduct themselves. Have senior-level employees supervising the staff and ready to respond quickly to any missteps.
- Offer people something: Whether it’s a free highlighter or the chance to win an iPad, people like to get something tangible out of attending trade shows. To better align this tactic with your overall campaign, offer a unique item that is related to your brand or company.
Depending on the type of product or service you offer, you may consider providing a free trial of one of your products to booth visitors.