In recent blogs, I’ve been discussing tradeshow tips and pointers because simply showing up at the expo is not enough. What you do — and don’t do — during the expo is critical. (We’ll discuss some don’ts another time.) Just as critical is what you do after the show. Two words, people: Follow Up.
The show’s over. You used the fancy badge scanner and gathered all kinds of attendee data, or your collected all of those business cards. Now what? A shocking number of exhibitors do nothing. This is the part of exhibiting that can make or break your investment. You have to follow up with the people you met. Period. It’s that simple. A nice start would be to send a quick e-mail to all booth visitors thanking them for stopping by (I mean all visitors, not just the best prospects). This should be within a day or two of the expo. Make sure your e-mail contains links to opt in to your e-newsletter or follow your company on Facebook (for example).
In the ensuing days, you should sort your booth visitors and qualify them as leads using whatever qualifying system works for your sales & marketing department. The next step in the follow-up depends on how they qualify. For instance, the very unlikely leads may simply receive a mailer or be invited to opt-in to your e-newsletter. The most promising ones should receive a phone call and a request for meeting (or demo, etc.). This latter group represents your ROI; they are the reason you spent all that money exhibiting. Do not squander the opportunity to convert them into loyal customers. Exhibiting at the show gave you priceless face time with all of these prospects, extracting the dreaded cold calling from the sales process. You need to woo them. You need to do it now.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites add another level of contact to the tradeshow experience. One way to leverage social media during the show is to tweet contests or other draws to your booth. (We’ll get into this in a later blog.) After the show, you can use these sites to keep in touch with the booth visitors by adding them to your LinkedIn network, inviting them to “like” your company on Facebook, or suggesting that they follow your company on Twitter. These online connections enable you to stay in touch with all levels of prospects without having to constantly pursue them. It takes some of the legwork out of the sales process, making your staff more efficient and helping to keep leads from going stale.
Social media is a two-way street. You want your prospect to “like” you and to opt in to your lists. So do the same for him/her! Show the prospect that you’re taking an active interest in his/her company as well. And even if the prospect never turns into a client, your connection to him/her may prove helpful down the road.
Helping Exhibitors With Tradeshow Preparedness
One Booth At A Time…