If you’re reading this blog, you’ve likely been to a few (or for some of you, a few hundred) trade shows. You know the routine. You spend weeks, maybe even months preparing for the show: It finally arrives, it’s exciting, you’re meeting tons of people, gathering leads and then in a matter of days it’s over. When you get back to the office, how do you make sure you capitalize on your interactions with the prospects you’ve just met?
Companies spend a lot of time and money preparing for and attending shows. However, the greatest returns only happen when you take action afterward. In an earlier blog post we addressed tips for maximizing your trade show investment before a show. In the wake of our own trade show — the Athletic Business Conference & Expo (check out the time lapse video below) — we wanted to discuss some tips for maximizing your show investment once you return home.
1. Categorize Your Leads
Not everyone you met at the show requires the same action and urgency. Some prospects that you met might be ready to buy and will require a phone call ASAP, while others are better candidates for e-mail campaigns or follow-ups further down the line. But just because someone isn’t a “hot” lead doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Categorize your leads into hot, medium and cool groups (or whatever lingo you want to use) and then determine which follow-up methods are right for which group.
2. Prompt Response
Now this might be a bit late if you were an ABC exhibitor, but it’s important to keep in mind for any trade show you attend: the sooner you can respond to your prospects, the better. According to a 2012 study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, less than 50% of exhibitors send an e-mail to their leads within a week of the show. With every day that passes, the likelihood of your lead forgetting your interaction, losing interest or getting too busy back in the office increases. Make it a priority to follow up as quickly as possible.
3. Personal Response
When possible, a personal response whether by phone, e-mail or both is proven to be more effective than mass communications. Now, not every single lead will require a personal follow-up, but for your most important ones, it is worth the time. In the same study referenced above, its conclusion states:
Customizing follow-up e-mail communications, tailored to attendees, who they are and what they articulated interest in, makes sense. It demonstrates to the attendee that an exhibitor was listening. It motivates an attendee to pay attention. In today’s marketing environment where consumers demand personal attention, targeted communications are a must.
And that was three years ago! The same truths are more apparent today.
4. Call to Action
When you follow-up with your leads, particularly via e-mail, give them a clear call to action. Of course, the end goal is to purchase your product, but for high-dollar items like many in this industry, that may take some time. In the meantime, maybe your goal is to get them to sign up for your newsletter, have them follow you on social media, or download a whitepaper you’ve produced. All of these actions build your connection with the prospect and give you another way to reach them. Whatever your company’s goal may be, give the prospect a clear and easy way to take the action you desire. Bombarding them with too many options can backfire.
Speaking of whitepapers, adding value to your follow-up communication by providing additional content can be a great way to nurture leads. You had a great conversation about a particular product? Send the prospects a link or maybe a video with more information. Someone expressed a particular problem they needed to solve at their facility? Send them your blog post on that exact subject. Of course to do this, you need to have a method of remembering the discussions you had with specific show attendees. Some companies do this electronically by adding notes when they scan badges. If you’re the old-school type, jotting a few notes on the back of a business card can help.
Is there something we’re missing? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below. Or tell us in person at the next industry trade show.
*The photo used in this blog post was taken by Brian Ebner, Optic Nerve.