Here’s Mistake #5 in our series of trade show marketing mistakes:
Poor lead collection.
This usually takes one of two forms. On one extreme, some companies work hard to collect every business card they possibly can — but that’s it. Without any further information, it’s impossible to know whether that business card belongs to a hot prospect, a cold prospect, or just someone interested in winning a prize.
On the other extreme, other companies don’t even collect business cards from visitors to their booth. It’s the “if they’re interested, they’ll ask” theory of trade show marketing. Big mistake.
Here are a few tips to do it right:
• Whenever anyone passes within 10 feet of you, greet them warmly and make them comfortable starting up a conversation.
• Take note of badges. Most shows color-code badges so it’s easy to tell who’s a buyer, who’s an exhibitor, who’s press, and who is “none of the above.” Don’t waste your time pitching product to someone who’s not going to buy.
• Note the company name on your visitors’ badge. Do you know the company? Beware of competitors spying.
• Qualify your prospect. Ask what area they work in. Determine if they’re decision makers or purchase influencers. Ask about their budget and time frame for buying.
• Write down information about what each prospect is interested in, and do it in their presence. That way, you don’t forget anything, and they feel listened to.
• Determine when they would like you to follow up – then do it!
A trade show gives you a golden opportunity to figure out who your hottest prospects are, and allocate your resources accordingly. Squander that opportunity, and you might as well just save your money, stay home and cold-call a trade association directory.