Making the Most of Leads From Trade Shows

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

In today’s challenging economic environment, not following up on trade show lead data is really inexcusable. It is expensive—really expensive—to be an exhibitor at a show. And whether your tradeshow exhibitor investment will net a profit or a loss all depends on how the lead data is capture and used.

Of course, if you’ve been the one to process a mountain of post-show leads it can seem like an overwhelming task. Incorporating this new data into your existing database can most certainly be a challenge. So here a few tips to get it right.

Determine how your lead data will be captured.
If you are capturing your lead data solely through a badge scanner, you have about a 50-50 shot that the information is correct. What you are getting is the information used to register that individual for the show. It may, or may not, be the prospect’s actual contact information.

Figure out what you want to do with your lead data.
Put together a game plan on how you will follow up—or use—your leads before you go to the show. In this way, you’ll know what type of data you need to acquire. By developing your own carefully crafted lead card, you can gain information that pertains specifically to your own business. Understand what data you need to enter into your database so that this lead is more than just a name, address, phone and email with no targetable purpose in life.

Come up with a segmentation system for your lead data.
How you need to segment your data for optimal usefulness depends on your individual business. Each industry and each company will have their own tactics for selling. Make sure you know and understand what segmentation methods you’ll need before you start entering leads into one giant pile. Making your sales team or marketing staff dig for a needle in a haystack is not a productive way of making use of tradeshow data.
Whether you use lead source coding, product coding, geographical coding, etc. a plan needs to be developed so that key segmentation information is captured. If you don’t have the correct information gathered for input—you are back to your giant haystack with no way to segment it.

Know how you will be contacting your leads so the data contains the correct communication information.
Again, going back to the badge scan download, the data collected from tradeshow registrations may or may not contain email or phone. Ask before you bet your lead database on incomplete scanner information. Know what questions you need to train your booth staff to ask to fill in any gaps.

Get a handle on pre- and post-show lists.
Attendee lists provided by shows are a great resource. But understand their usefulness. Count on pre-show list solely for the purpose of driving traffic to your booth for the intended goal of collecting further targetable lead data. The list itself should not become your lead database. Do a pre-show communication and then have your staff ask booth visitors if they received it. If they didn’t get it—you know that the list—and mirrored badge scan information will be useless. Know what you need to gain to make that lead useable!

Understand that post-show lists are coming from the same source as the pre-show list. You may or may not get accurate information. By using the pre-show list for initial communication you can gauge the percentage of accuracy of the source information and know how much you can really depend upon that post-show list. Be sure to de-dupe it against the data you capture at the show.

There’s a statistic that’s been around since the beginning of time, “80% of tradeshow lead data is never used for follow up.” If I could offer up my own reasoning behind this statistic, I’d say it’s because the lead data is either never entered properly or it’s entered without being properly coded. Either way valuable prospect data is lost and possible sales along with it. When you spend the money to exhibit at a tradeshow you oftentimes have one shot to gain a valuable entry into your lead data. Make sure that each and every name counts.

Carol Lustig is a marketing consultant with more than 30 years experience in direct marketing, advertising and public relations.
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