Trade shows are a staple source of leads that can often mean the difference between a year in the red or year in the green. Because of this companies are often willing to commit an quite a sizely buget to the trade show circuit. Reflective of their significance trade-shows draw to both ends of the booths the best companies have to offer both in terms of products and people. Even armed with the best personal and products trade shows, even when they appear a success, can often fail to have the impact anticipated on the bottom line. The reason: failure to furnish the means to ensure a proper follow through.

Gather as Much as you Give

While passing out brochures and business cards are important these are at best a first line of offence. Trade shows are as much about what you offer as what you gather. With people coming and going one needs to gather information on and distinguish industry leads, perspective clients and perspective suppliers. Doing so requires a system where you both provide your perspective clients, investors and suppliers with personalized information and gather the equivalent from them. The first part is easily achieved. A range of specialized informational racks cards and brochures will ensure the recipient gains the necessary information. Tie this package together with a folder with you business card and you have equipped the recipient with what he or she needs to take the appropriate next steps. The problem however is that this person is likely going to have much the same conversation with the person in the booth beside yours.  To adress this some companies provide promotional material that they feel the customer will hold on to due to its practical utility. Unfortunately, as we all well know, this strategy is likewise pursued by your competetors and pens and paper pads typically fail to get your message across.

Provide the Promise of a Solution 

The solution: gather specific information in a way which promises reward. To do so you must leave something wanted. That is to say, don’t give it all away when your customer reaches your booth. Start by asking questions. Lots of questions. The person is standing across from you not because everything is working but because, quite simply put, they have a problem. Your job: to provide the promise of a solution but not a solution. This gives your the grounds to gather critical information about your client that goes beyond their name and affiliation. With this information you can start a conversation. Where this conversation goes it up to you.

Follow Up before your Client Does

The success of a trade-show is rooted in what you do with what you have gathered. The problem is that most follow ups are pursued too late. Every lead or contact has a expiry date that is altogether unknown to you unless you have been able to establish it in conversation. In order to avoid loosing a lead you need to identify when this date is and attach it to each piece of information gathered from your perspective clients.  With this information you will be able to order your leads in a way that reflects their urgency. Without this information you risk making contact either too early or too late.