by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP,
Show Me the Money: Maximizing Tradeshow
I hear it all the
time: Tradeshows are a waste of time and money. We stand around,
selling our hearts out, and what do we have to show at the end of the
Well, that's the
result you should expect, if you're like most exhibitors, and neglect
the most crucial aspect of tradeshow participation: Follow Up.
What happens at the
tradeshow is obviously import to your success, but equally important is
what happens after the show ends. This is where most exhibitors drop
the ball. Differentiate your company from its peers and wring the full
value from your tradeshow participation. To truly benefit from all the
hard work what went into exhibiting, must ensure that appropriate
follow-up activities take place.
Follow Up Begins Before the Show
Research tells us that over 80% of leads gathered at tradeshows are never followed up.
That's a phenomenal number, especially when each lead has the potential
to generate profit for your company.
Why do so many leads fall by the wayside?
It's because show leads have a reputation for having no substance – they’re either just
cold business cards or similar basic information imprinted on a company
lead card. There's nothing there to give already busy professionals a
reason to follow up.
Even if the salespeople do follow up, there's only so much they can learn from a
business card or bare bone information. For salespeople to view leads
as being worthwhile for follow-up, they need quality information.
For this reason, it
is vital that before the show you spend time going over the lead
collecting process. Clarify exactly what types of information should be
recorded on lead cards. Explain the importance of the information you
are gathering. Make sure everyone knows exactly how to operate the card
readers and use the printouts and lead cards.
the show should know exactly what results you want to achieve at the
various tradeshows you attend. Each show should have its own set of
specific, clear, quantifiable, realistic goals. These goals should be in
line with your company’s overall marketing objectives.
These goals give
staffers something to strive for, but they also serve as benchmarks to
evaluate and measure team and individual performance.
Develop a Follow
To achieve and perhaps surpass your specific goals, you need a follow up system. The
best time to develop your follow up system is during the planning and
Use this time prior to the show establish how the leads will be handled. For example,
select a team member to take responsibility for collecting all "hot"
leads at the end of each day and overnight them to the home office for
immediate processing. Assign someone at the home office as a
“follow-up” manager. This person takes charge of the entire follow-up
process and should be someone who does not attend the show. Their job
is to carry out the follow-up system that was established before the
Timeliness is of essence with all leads, not just the "hot" ones. Obviously you're not
going to overnight every single lead back to the home office, but there
are steps you can take to ensure you stand out from the crowd of
It is important to
send something, such as a letter, email, or broadcast fax, to everyone
who came by the booth to thank them and let them know when they can
expect to hear from your company again. This should be done within
three to five days after the show. Remember, if you don't follow up,
your competitors will.
The Next Step:
management database programs to ensure your sales staff get leads that
are as complete and useful as possible. Then, after leads are
distributed, hold your account representatives responsible for the
There should be a
written progress report from each salesperson at regular, predetermined
intervals. This information can be used to track their performance,
sales made, etc.
Some companies use performance in lead follow up as one factor in a salesperson's annual
performance review. Knowing that they will be held accountable for
results is a powerful motivator.
At the end of the day, management wants to know their money was well spent. Keeping track
of your leads will allow you to measure sales directly attributable to
your tradeshow participation. Recording this data will allow you to
provide qualitative and quantitative analysis of the show.
For example, you
can calculate the return-on-investment to demonstrate to management the
effect tradeshows have on the bottom line. To measure the cost per
tradeshow lead, simply divide your total show expenditure by the number
of leads gathered. To measure the cost per sale, divide the total show
expenditure by the number of sales.
such as types of prospects who visited the booth, dates and times of
their visit, products/services of interest, buying intent, and results
of any pre-show promotional activity often proves invaluable when
planning future show participation.
The key to
tradeshow success is wrapped up in the lead management process. It
starts with knowing at the outset what you want to achieve, then
continues through establishing a strategy that is user-friendly, and
finally the actual follow-up operation leads to bottom-line
profitability. With a little forethought and planning the results will
speak for themselves.
Written by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid,
NY, author: “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with
companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching,
consulting and training. For a free copy of “10 Common Mistakes
Exhibitors Make”, e-mail: article4 @ thetradeshowcoach.com;