Trade Show Trade Secrets: The Sequel

So, you read our Trade Show Trade Secrets and created a killer experience for visitors at your last trade show. You made a few deals, talked to some great prospects, and gathered a ton of contact info. Now what? How do you follow up after a trade show? According to some studies, a lot of companies never figure that out, because up to 80% of trade show leads are never followed up on. Trade shows take a lot of time and energy, and if you don’t follow up, that time and energy is wasted.

Before Your Tradeshow

The first two steps after a trade show actually take place before the show starts. The first step is to devise a system for ranking leads. Cold, warm, and hot leads all need follow up, but they don’t all need the same level and type of response. Ideally, your booth staff will be marking leads by their viability as they come in, either electronically, or simply with notes on the back of a business card. Make sure to also keep notes about any specific information the attendee requested. The second step is to develop a communications plan for those leads.

Right After the Tradeshow

As soon as you return from the trade show you’ll want to clean and update your database with the new contact information. It would be embarrassing to send a “nice to meet you” note to someone who has actually been a client for years. Ideally, you want to send follow-up emails 48 hours or so after the trade show ends, so if possible, consider getting the cleanup started while you’re still at the show. Don’t forget to also add or invite your new contacts to your social media accounts. Social media makes it easy to stay in contact with whole groups of new contacts.

The Actual Follow Up

When sending follow up emails to thank people for stopping by, remember that they likely visited several other booths at the show (and maybe went to a few late-night parties as well) so they probably won’t remember your booth without some help. Make sure to reference the name of the show, the date, and remind them of your booth with a picture (an especially good idea if you went to the trouble to create an eye-catching booth) or anecdote about the show.

While cold and lukewarm leads can go to the marketing department for a follow-up email, hot leads should go directly to sales for a phone call. When possible, creating individualized follow-up emails for those contacts about whom you have a lot of information can move them from the warm to the hot category.

The same way that a creative or eye-catching booth can bring people to you, a creative approach to following up can keep their attention. Most attendees are inundated by follow-up emails directly after a big trade show. Why not send a postcard or other snail mail follow-up instead of, or in addition to, your email follow-up? Another idea is to create a video of show highlights and include a link in your email. Don’t leave your follow-up at the one email, though; your plan should include a few well-spaced emails over a period of time.

Trade shows are a great way to start a relationship, but only if you take the time to take the next step. Contact Marstudio today to get assistance with email and postcard design and strategy, or with any other trade show and marketing needs.

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