This photograph is something we've all seen. A container with business cards gathered at a trade show. What happens with these leads at your shop? If you are like the majority of businesses the answer is a resounding, "NOTHING!" and that is sad.
It doesn't seem to matter how you do it (collecting cards, doing a sign up sheet, writting down the contact names) the raw data says that 79% of trade show leads receive zero follow up. So, let's see, you spend $5,000 on a three day show (travel, lodging, meals, booth rental, staff time, etc.) and you don't follow up on the generated leads? Amazing....let's fix it today!
Rule One: Put somebody in charge. The old saying, "what gets watched, gets done" is so true. One person needs to be in charge of making sure these leads get a follow up. The person doing this does not have to be a sales person. You are wanting contact. Sales will follow. The job is to create a plan (well in advance of the show) and then follow through. Leaving it up to chance is what creates a lousy return on your investment.
Rule Two: Make it easy. Trade shows are not so much about quantity as they are about quality. Not everybody who leaves a card or a name is really interested...but you don't know that. So make sure you have follow up materials ready to go right after the show. Don't wait until the crew comes back to design the follow up piece. Be prompt...
Final Rule: Evaluate the progress. Expect the person you put in charge of this effort to report back with results. Engage this person to stick to it for at least two weeks. Explain to the sales people how important this is...after all your not sending staff to a show just to party.
The best we've seen at this would be our client from Country Vet Pet Foods. Gary Kubicek, their Marketing Manager, has follow up down to a science and makes sure there is contact made after the show. Great job Gary!
Don't leave money on the table...you've spent too much to cheat yourself out of the sale. Trade shows can be budget busters and some companies quit...don't let it happen to you.