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Trade Show Marketing: Following Up After a Trade Show (Part 3 of 3)

Marketing tips to attract more trade show customers

Trade Show Marketing Ideas to Help Maximize ROI

(Part 3 of a 3 Part Series)

In this third and final segment on trade show marketing ideas, I will address ideas to help improve your trade show results through proven post-show follow up. I am still amazed at the number of companies that fail to follow up promptly and diligently after their trade shows, which is surely leaving money on the table and wasted opportunity.

Have you ever waited after a trade show that you attended for literature or samples that you had asked for, but which never arrived? Here are some trade show strategies to help you to make the most from your trade show experience—post-show and to increase your return on investment.

Most companies need to have multiple contact or “touches” with prospective vendors before they feel comfortable in purchasing from them. Here are nine ideas to help you capture more post-show sales with very little effort.

1. Send in Leads Daily: Don’t get bogged down with your regular paperwork and activities once you return to the office by trying to tackle a stack of show leads at one time. Many trade shows offer a scanner where you can electronically capture the contact information of the prospect in second by scanning their name tag. Each night, send the file as an attachment to your office, where, hopefully a well-thought out after-show packet is ready to be sent out.

Note: Do not become so enamored with this scanning technology that all your staff does it scan cards and not develop rapport with prospective customers. I have been at shows where neighboring booths compete with each other for most names scanned. Do not opt for quantity over quality of leads.

If a scanner is unavailable, you can buy a business card scanner from Cardscan and attach to your laptop or cell phone, where you can instantly scan in a prospect’s business card and upload your list each night to your office. If you still want to collect business cards, bring a few FedEx envelopes and send them overnight to the office after each day. Speed is critical in showing your professionalism to your clients. It will also set you apart from your competition.

2. Rank Prospects: All prospects are not the same, so devise a method of ranking prospects on the spot. You can attach a questionnaire to their business card or give a score or ranking (on a scale of one to ten) on the back of the cards—with a comment or two. This will help you to determine which prospects should be followed up first.

3. Take Notes on Back of Business Cards: No matter how good your memory is, you will not remember every customer or prospect you meet– and what specifically you discussed, information you promised to send, etc. On the back of their business card, write a one or two line message as a reminder, such as “interested in XYZ machine” or ” wants me to email her specifications on Model B123″ or “deciding between us and Acme CO. and will get back to me in two weeks”.

4. Have Post-Show Kit Ready Ahead of Time: As I mentioned in step one, you should have a complete follow up kit ready to mail out—just waiting for the address label and postage to be applied. That way, your assistant can get the kits out while you are out of town and exude stellar professionalism.

5. Send Lumpy Mail: Flat standard sized envelopes will end up in a pile, unopened for weeks. A padded envelope with an irregularly shaped item inside will get opened immediately. Send an imprinted promotional product, such as an imprinted stress ball or imprinted pen or other unique advertising specialty with your note and catalog — and your package will get opened ahead of all the rest.

To maximize the effectiveness, get an imprinted circle label or decal and attach to the outside of the package with the headline “XYZ TRADE SHOW FOLLOW UP—SAMPLE ENCLOSED”. Everyone loves freebies – and by mentioning the trade show, the prospect will know it is not random junk mail. Choose an item that is not breakable and is not too heavy. A promotional product distributor that specializes in trade show marketing can help you or visit our website, www.ecomarketingsolutions.com to see our newly updated website that offers a free tool that allows you to select from over 500,000 imprinted and logoed promotional items, which you can sort them by price range or by theme. It is a handy tool that can save you a great deal of time and money.

6. Decide on Frequency of Contact: How often do you plan to contact with the prospect after the show and in what form of contact—newsletter, email, letter, phone call, samples? Customers may need five ten contacts or touches before they feel comfortable with you and your company. Reach them in several ways—some prefer email, some fax, some like phone calls. I recommend a multi-pronged approach, with a sample after the show, a phone call, then an email, then a newsletter, etc.

Be sure you walk the fine line of keeping your name in front of your prospects without becoming a nuisance or nag. Each “customer touch” should offer some benefit to your prospect, such as industry news, money saving offers, sales strategy, comparison to competition, etc. Don’t just keep asking for the order without becoming known as a source of industry or business ideas.

7. Stay in Touch With Your Reps: Independent reps or salespeople are often not as motivated by trade show leads as the home office is. The reason can be because too many reps are sent a stack of unqualified business cards without notes, so the reps assume these are cold leads, at best. Help your reps by breaking the list down into categories, such as “immediate need/30-60 days/60-90 days/90+ days” or break down your trade show leads to “A-B-C” accounts. Do a little homework upfront and you will create a stronger partnership between your office and your reps. Also, be sure to keep duplicates so you can follow up with your sales force in a set period of time.

One more note: don’t rely on your reps to make the immediate contact or post- show follow up. Be sure to send your information packet to the prospect so that they have some communication from you within the first seven days after a show.

8. Give a Reason to Follow up Immediately With an Email: If a prospect looks promising, tell them that you will email them something of value to them right after the show. Ask for their business card and write a note exactly what it is, whether it is to send artwork or proposal, email a white paper, information on a new service –whatever. That way, you can send them an email, which will already be in their in-box from you when they get back to their office, with the heading “White Paper You Asked for at The XYZ Show”, or something to that effect.

9. Speed is Key: As I have mentioned several times, prompt follow up is imperative in closing more trade show sales. Be sure your team is on the same page regarding the importance of prompt follow up and you will be pleasantly surprised at how you can stand apart from your competition.

Following these nine post-trade show ideas can make you more effective at your trade shows and help you to maximize your trade show success. Stand out from your competition and be known as the company that delivers on what they promised at the trade show. You will close more sales and maximize your trade show ROI.

Happy Trade Show Selling.

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Note: To view the other segments, visit  Trade Show Marketing Tips: Part 1 and Trade Show Marketing Tips: Part 2.

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Robert Piller is President of EcoMarketing Solutions LLC, a company that helps businesses promote themselves to their customers and prospects at trade shows using environmentally-friendly promotional products that won’t end up in a landfill. He is a frequent speaker and writer on issues of green marketing. He can be reached at robert@ecomarketingsolutions.com. You can also visit his blog at www.greenspotblog.com.

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