Articles Tagged with: Lead Gathering
The No. 1 reason your trade show participation sucked (bonus Dad at the end)
I’m going to keep it nice and tight today as I am still in recovery mode from my 46km marathon row up the Hunter River last weekend.  Any by recovery I do not mean massages, steam rooms and green juices.  No, my go-tos are chocolate brownies, alcohol and weighted lunges. But more on all that later.


So here it is.  Do you want to know why, after spending months preparing for your trade show, smacked down some coin on a good-looking stand, organised a roster so your best and brightest were there to help visitors and hell, you even had a (insert sharp intake of breath) a TOUCH SCREEN on the stand that your results, ROI or however you measure your trade show success is in the toilet?

Listen up: It is because you failed to follow-up leads and enquiries your acquired on the stand.

I have a perfect example. I attended Designex in Melbourne in late May I was disappointed in the quality of stand exhibits.  Designex used to be a high point in stand design with all sorts of funky and interesting stuff being done.  No more. It was a sea of ordinary.  So yeah, I can overlook ordinary if exhibiting firms want to show me so cool and interesting stuff. But my fellow design maven Shirley and I were shocked at how many exhibitors – and this was even within the first few hours of opening morning – were focussed on tapping out stuff on their iPads, laptops, smart phones and not engaging in the face to face marketing that exhibitions are perfect for.  Both Shirley and I both browsed on exhibitor stands, clearly interested in the products but even then we were ignored, the lure of the digital screen proving more important that two red-hot leads strolling about your stand.  Even when I finally made contact with an exhibitor and handed over my details (I gave out 12 business cards in all) to have follow-up information sent through, only one out the twelve got in contact.  Props to Forbo Flooring for following through but Dulux…James Richardson Furniture…hello?  Nah.  Not freakin’ good enough by a long shot.

You could argue that perhaps they lost my card – and if that is the case, then a new type of lead capture device is sorely needed.  You might surmise that they will still get around to getting in contact but seriously….2 months has passed and even a digital thank you note can be sent off before I have even stepped foot off the stand if the company cares enough.  And that’s the rub. Many exhibitors don’t care about the results or their customer and therefore don’t put in place the systems and procedures to gather leads on the trade show floor and then follow-up effectively.

You know, all this lack of lead follow-up is a good thing if you are an exhibitor.  This is a perfect opportunity to grab new customers and market share when so many of your competitors have a lazy approach to lead capture and follow-up.  Imagine what a superstar you would be if you actually do what you said you were going to do by getting in touch.  And sooner.  Like now.

Now I would normally share some photos of Designex at this point but they had a strict “no photography” policy plastered everywhere which blows my mind and not in a good way.  With so many ways to share information over the internet and amongst your tribe, I don’t know what muppet within the Designex organising team thought it was a good idea to ban links and buzz building through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc etc. But whoever the sock puppets were, get a grip and get with the times.  And also give your exhibitors some much-needed tips in effective trade show strategies.

So instead of Designex, I am going to share a photo of my Dad and I at the end of the 46km marathon and yes, this is him holding me up. As much I as I am awe of what my lady crew and I did by actually completing the race, I marvel at my dad for his involvement.  He was up at his Central Coast home at just after 4am on a SUNDAY, zoomed up the highway to Newcastle with a boot full of muffins, water and bandages and stood around keeping the mood up  with witty quips while we waited clad only in LYCRA in icy conditions for the fog to lift. Once we set off, he stalked us up the river stopping at five different locations to yell at us like those slightly unhinged types do in shopping centre carparks, phoned back GPS coordinates so my Mum and sister who were  manning ground control at home and could follow our progress up the Hunter.  And then finally, FINALLY when we reached the finish line, he fished me out of the boat and gave me one of the best hugs ever.  I hear a lot about women being in supporting roles to men doing stuff.  But our lady crew totally subverted that.  On our success team, we had Koach Kim, Nathan the demonic personal trainer, our coxswain Roberto the Unbelievable, General Len (what does Len do?  Generally pretty much anything and everything including rowing and towing) and my Dad. So this is big love to all the wonderful men who made our row that much easier and sweeter.  Go hug a man today!  (The fine print: Obviously not one of those recommended for sentencing in the NSW ICAC corruption enquiry, those dudes are NQR.)


Tune wise, I want to share one of my fav songs we had playing in the boat during the row.  It came on in the final 8 kms when fatigue is biting and the distance drags.  Madonna, her hot pants spurred and my crazy Dad by the side of the river waving his jumper helicopter style above his head spurred me on.

See you next week!

Go for gold! Why your trade show finish is essential in guaranteeing your success.
I love the Olympics.  If only to see my sport of choice – rowing – get some prime time television love from the major networks that does not involve someone either (a) laying down during a major race or (b) getting batshit crazy a few weeks out from a major competition and being booted off the team.  So yeah, I love me some olympic rowing.  What I am fascinated with is how crews plot their final 500 metre dash for the line.  I know in my own rowing that I have struggled with the finishing off the race and I have been working HARD to overhaul my technique.  My previous idea had been to blow all my energy in the first two-thirds of a race and then have nothing left in the tank to put on a final surge for the line.  One of the best races I have been in was the women’s C category race in the NSW 2012 Masters where, for the first time – praise to baby jesus – I was in a crew that actually improved its split time in the final 500 metres over the first.  The icing on the cake was a bronze medal but it just proved to me how important the finish is and how this can be applied to your trade show performance and ensuring it is successful.



1. Start with the end in mind

With most trade participation being about gathering leads, what processes are you putting place during the show to meet this target? Ohhhh, back up, do you even have a target?  Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking every soul that walks through the venue doors is your target as there will be many people there that have no buying or influential authority within an organisation.  You need to focus on who you want to reach at the show and make it your business to ensure they stop by and learn more about your products, services and their benefits.  A company I worked with earlier this year has a total of 6 – no, that is no error – key influencers they wanted to have on their trade show stand out of a delegate list in excess of over 1500.  So their activities were all around getting this gang of 6 on their stand and made sure their messaging, the images, the inclusions and even the booth staff were all about what those 6 would want to see, hear and touch.

2. Make a plan – and stick to it

Once you have your target list you now have to make a plan on how to gather their details on the stand.  Trade shows are fast-moving and delegates only have limited time available especially if they are being shunted through the morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea windows of access to the trade show display.  So I recommend having a mix of lead gathering techniques on the stand:

a. The badge scanner.  This is often offered through the show organiser and while it can be good to systemise the information, I have seen too many bad examples of both babes perched at the info counter just scanning badges to up the metrics.  The problem is then transferred to the back-end where you have a whole bunch of names but what do they want?

b. The business card bowl.  Well, it certainly beats the pants pocket of the head sales guy, but like the badge scanner, who are these people and what the hell are they interested in?

c. App technology.  You can use App’s like Card Munch to take details but make sure your stand staff have had pre-show training in this.  Not a good look on day one when your stand staff are head scratching.

d. Forms.  This is good, especially when stapled to a business card so all contact details are correct but it can be made so much better when the booth staff fill this out on your behalf either while you are there or straight after the chat.  I get real cold when I get passed a form for me to fill out when visiting a stand.  You want my information?  Then you take down the information about me that you require.

e. QR codes and augmented reality. The QR codes have been around for a while though not used widely and augmented reality is in the early days of trade show take up but both offer huge possibilities and ongoing engagement long after the show is over.

3. Actually follow-up on the leads – I know, CRAZY TALK!

This is where the gold medal is earned.  Follow the damn leads up.  I have this exercise when I visit trade shows to see how many of my details get followed up on.  I am tracking around the 40% follow up mark at the moment which is just shameful.  All the effort of planning a trade show stand, buying the space, doing pre-show marketing, having a stand designed and built, trucking out all your best stand staff and housing them in a different city and for what?  Buggar all.  Truly, this is key.  People have given you their details, they expect to hear from you and with technology being what it is, they would expect to hear from you within 48 hours of the show close.  Or sooner.  Don’t be satisfied with a sub-performance.  Strive for gold!

I have seen so many firms sabotaging their gold medal performance by failing to finish well by collecting leads in a systemised way and following them up.  Hey, the Beastie Boys wrote a song that parlays nicely into this.  And if you have others ways of collecting and following up leads, please share in comments below.

Vale Adam Yauch (MCA).  See you next week!