Weekly News & Insights – Is Lead Gathering Stuck in the 20th Century?

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A recent study released by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) shows that the majority of exhibitors (74 percent) use show-provided lead retrieval systems to capture trade show leads, while the number two method is paper-based lead forms or collecting business cards (59 percent). But the really tragic statistic is that less than a third of exhibitors gather any type of qualifying information, instead capturing only basic contact information and product interest — in other words, just what was provided in the show registration and therefore what shows up with a badge scan.

How sad — There’s so much more that can be learned from that 3-5 minute conversation in the booth! What many exhibitors don’t realize is that the badge scanning software can often be customized with questions your team needs to know in order to qualify prospects. And of course if you’re using paper lead forms, those can include whatever questions you want. If you do collect business cards, be sure to attach them to either the lead card or a printout from the badge scanner so there’s more to go on for whoever is assigned to follow up with that lead.

Which brings up another issue from the study … about 70 percent of exhibitors say they follow up within two weeks of a show. The two most popular forms are customized e-mails and personal phone calls. While I haven’t seen the full report yet to know exact breakdowns within these answers, I suspect that a large part of that 70 percent is following up later rather than sooner, and may even be exaggerating about how well they follow up. Why? Because I’ve attended far too many shows where exhibitors were slow to follow up … and many never did at all.

Of course I wish this wasn’t true, but I believe this is an area that needs a lot of improvement, which is why last month in the Exhibit Marketers Café our Strategy of the Month was lead management. We covered how to gather and nurture leads, as well as how to get marketing and sales in sync to create an effective lead management system. If you become a member of the Café now, you can still access these recordings and action guides as part of your member benefits.

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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