Trade Show Leads: Get the Biggest Bang from your Trade Show Displays

Chances are, those in your organization who get to participate in trade shows look forward to it: The buzz, the excitement, the press of the crowd, the rush as you watch people lining up to see your wares… It can be a lot of fun, but once you’ve pulled down your exhibit displays, your work is only half done.Segue SuperNova LED wall mounted lightbox

The follow-ups you make with the leads you’ve gathered are what will really determine if your investment in your exhibit displays was a success. All of the outreach and public interest is great, but it’s primarily the sales your booth gathers that actually justifies the costs of exhibiting at a trade show. And since trade shows are among the more expensive methods of lead generation, it’s doubly important to make the most of every contact.

So, let’s talk a bit about crafting good follow-ups, and the various methods you can use!

First, recognize there are two basic approaches to lead gathering at shows. The first is to pre-qualify leads, either when you meet them at the show, or even before, when you invite them to meet with you. The second is to cast a bigger net, and try to scoop up every name you get at the show, and then follow up and qualify them later. Both approaches work, so long as your lead follow-up process is in place and is worked as planned.

It is also important to recognize where your leads are in their buying cycle. Are they actively looking for a solution you offer, or are they idly investigating the possibility or planning for the future? The content of your follow up needs to match their interest; you won’t be successful trying to sell them a car today if they were merely looking around, contemplating that their teenager might need a car in a year or two. However, sharing info on car safety ratings or drivers training courses might be a good way to stay in touch.

After you’ve identified who your leads are and what their level of interest is, you can craft the strategy and content for your follow up process. Next step is to determine how you want to stay in touch with them – there are many more choices these days than there were 20 years ago!

Reaching Out To Your Leads: Making the Most of Your Exhibit Displays


Of all the methods of reaching out after a trade show, email is probably still the most all-around effective. While it’s falling out of favor among general users, email is still the primary communications method for business deals and transactions. You’re unlikely to go wrong sending follow-up emails to your leads.

However, email marketing strategies are changing. The rise of mobile devices have changed how people are looking at their inboxes. A recent report shows that an astonishing 43% of emails are now opened on mobile devices!

Clearly, email follow-ups need to be “mobile friendly” – but what does that mean? Most email apps display both the subject line as well as one or two lines of the initial text. Emails that are read on a mobile phone will be screened using those first few lines. You should be making full use of this!3-sided multimedia kiosk for upscale mall

Don’t get lazy about writing your subject lines, even if it’s tempting. Make them as personalized as possible. Use your lead’s name, and whenever possible, work in something specific to that lead. Try to include the name of the show as well.

After that, use the next line as an attention-grabber. Try to directly reference something particular to that lead – a question the person asked, or a comment they made. This is where your note-taking during the show will pay off. The more your email appears to be written specificallyfor a certain person, the more likely they are to look at it.

Even something like a “Thinking of You After (X) Trade Show” can be effective. You just need to pique their interest enough to click on the email, before it gets lost in the shuffle of their ever-expanding inbox. If you can just get them to start reading, there’s a very good chance you’ll hook them.

Phone Calls

Phone calls are also highly effective, but they’re also more time-consuming and are under more serious time constraints. You can dash off an email at midnight after the show if you like, but you have to wait until business hours to call – and then hope they are at their desk and available.

For this reason, we’d recommend saving phone calls for your most qualified leads. Think about the leads you had the longest conversations with, or seemed the closest to making a purchase. Often, they may not have purchasing power at the show, so a follow-up call the next day can give them that nudge they need to get approval.

For the rest of your leads, email first to gauge their interest and place in the buying cycle, then look into setting up a phone call for more serious negotiations.

Social Media

For more high-tech visitors, it might be tempting to use social media services, especially Facebook or LinkedIn. If you’ve gathered their user info and\or gotten them to connect with you already, great! For younger, more Internet-savvy consumers this can be the best way of reaching them – in fact, you should also have integrated this capability as a lead collection tool with iPad stands or something similar, right into your exhibit displays. Generation Y especially tends to prefer text to phone calls, when possible, although of course that’s not universal.

Facebook can be especially good for this since, unlike other social media services, they include an Instant Messaging service built into the client that’s available across all platforms. With a qualified lead who prefers IMing, you get the immediacy of a phone call, but with the breathing room to really consider your words before pressing the Enter key to send them.

This means of communication is also perfect if you plan on sending links or videos to your lead. Links can be inserted into chat directly, making it simple to send supplementary material directly while the conversation is going on.

Older buyers may be less comfortable with this “multitasking” approach to Internet work, so you probably shouldn’t use this tactic with people much over 35 or 40 unless you already know they’re experienced Internet users.

Video Chat

The newest method for reaching out to trade show leads, and one that may not be used enough yet, is video chat. There are numerous services these days that allow for free videoconferencing, with Skype, Google, and Apple’s Facetime as the standouts.

The downside is, both you and your lead need to be on the same system for this to work. However, with Skype and Google offering free signups, it’s relatively easy if a lead is interested. Facetime is included for free with OS X and iOS, but is of course limited to Apple users.

Then, you get nearly all the benefits of face-to-face communication, but without the trouble of actually scheduling an in-person meeting. Plus, these services often include text pipelines as well, allowing you to send links while keeping up the video chat.

Keep Reeling In Those Leads!

Today, you have more options than ever before when you’re looking to connect with your convention leads. Explore all the various methods at your disposal! With as many different kinds of buyers as there are means of communicating with them, part of the trick is finding the right method to match to the lead.

With good note-taking during the show, and a bit of intuition, you can get a big leap ahead of your competition simply by picking the right communications methods.

For more, look at our article on killer trade show presentations and how to use displays to convert leads into sales.

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