Trade shows aren’t just an opportunity to meet face to face with fellow printers – here’s how visitors can make the most of exhibitions after the event.
We’ve outlined the benefits of attending exhibitions and trade shows before, but – whether you're an attendee or an exhibitor – all those people you met and all those business cards you gathered are meaningless unless you’ve got a plan in place to follow up.
The worst thing you can do is fail to capitalize on genuine leads that you’ve sourced, whether it was through a talk or presentation you gave, or just during an impromptu chat over a sandwich. Exhibitor Online says that while many people and businesses do follow up after a trade show or expo, less than half of them actually track what they do with those leads. If you’re one of those people – why did you go in the first place?
Genuine trade and sales leads are the lifeblood of a printer – so how do you ensure you make the most of them?
Time is of the essence when you’ve sourced a genuine lead. If you’ve been asked for more information, or some facts and figures, there’s no reason why you can’t source and provide these during the exhibition. If not, make sure you’re in touch with them within 72 hours.
Whether you choose to follow up with a phone call or email, be prepared and be yourself
There’s nothing wrong with proving you’re eager to please a potential customer. Lisa Hall, of exhibition specialists XL Displays, says: “We find that making contact with each lead within three days following the event always yields better results and a higher conversion rate than waiting longer.”
Tailor your response
Whether you choose to follow up with a phone call or email, be prepared and be yourself. Know the name, role and responsibility of the person you’re speaking to. If this is being handled by another member of your team, make sure they’re briefed.
Don’t send out a generic ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ email – and if you are struggling there are plenty of online templates that you can use to assist you. Will sending some samples of your print work help gain a competitive advantage? If that’s what you’re selling, sending a pack with your best work is a good way to show what you can do. And it pays to jog the memory too – if you shared a joke or an anecdote at the show, reference that, or maybe include a photo of your stand if that’s where you secured the lead.
Track and measure
You might have a ‘feeling’ that trade shows and exhibitions pay off, but are you certain? Unless you’re keeping track, you’ll never know for sure if you’re getting a good return on investment. Hall says that “following up on leads isn’t rocket science. Provided you have an organised way of collecting and logging leads whilst at an event, there’s no reason for you to fail post-event.”
Following up on leads isn’t rocket science. Provided you have an organised way of collecting and logging leads while at an event, there’s no reason for you to fail post-event
Rather than just have a drawer full of business cards you’ve harvested, open files on potential leads, whether physical or digitally. That way you can make notes on what approaches and follow-ups you’ve made, and whether they were successful. There are numerous software and app-based contact management software solutions out there that can help you do this with ease. Examples include Insightly, which does automated lead management, and Nutshell which has mobile app support). CamCard is an app for both Android and iOs that scans business cards. Initially free options – perhaps better for small businesses – include Zoho CRM, Hubspot and FreshSales. You can set alerts to prompt you to send follow-up emails, to chase, to call. You can save notes and – as mentioned before – share among other team members. Knowledge is power when it comes to converting leads.
Go the extra mile
There are numerous other things you can do, depending on the sale and size of your business. Are you all over social media? Don’t forget to use LinkedIn to promote your business after the event and to invite people you met to connect with you. You can then use the site to send out status updates to keep you and your company at the forefront of other's minds.
Instagram, particularly Instagram Stories, can give contacts or possible clients a behind-the-scenes, more human and less corporate side to your business. As with all social media, use the correct event hashtags across all platforms so people can find you. Club FESPA has more advice on using LinkedIn and maximising your social media presence.
Make sure you track your social media metrics so you can measure any uptick in engagement after the exhibitions. By doing this – and by keeping track of what you do – you can see how successful your show really was. You can work out if social media impact leads to customers, or whether you’d be better focusing on something else at your next trade show. Would that investment be better spent on branding and materials to handout – make sure you survey new customers as to how they found you, so you can be sure of what works for you. A lead is a terrible thing to waste.
How not to do it
Want to squander all your leads for some unearthly reason? Here’s how to do it…
Harass leads with contact after contact. As Lisa Hall says: “Don’t bombard people with emails and phone calls in a desperate bid to close a deal; acknowledge the client and follow their lead.”
Take the one-size-fits-all approach. People like to be treated like individuals, and don’t appreciate boilerplate emails or a generic approach.
Ignore requests. Many of the people you’ve met might just have asked for more information. Want them on board? Send it to them.
Take your sweet time. Leads are highly time-sensitive – the chances of you converting one reduce by the day. Approach them too late and they’ll have forgotten about you or will deem you unprofessional.
by FESPA Staff