Scary Tales of Trade Show Follow-Up

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Photo credit: stock.xchng / brainloc

Photo credit: stock.xchng / brainloc

It may sound too simple to be true, but prompt and thorough follow-up may be one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, many exhibitors haven’t yet learned that important lesson.

Here are some scary examples of what NOT to do (names have been omitted to protect the guilty):

  • After visiting a travel booth at a local show, I received their information in a timely manner, but what exactly did I receive? The letter was addressed to someone else, congratulating her on an upcoming honeymoon in Bermuda (I was planning a vacation in Las Vegas), while the travel brochures they sent were all for Vegas. Needless to say, I never called them. If they can’t even stuff an envelope, would I trust them with my travel plans? Definitely not!
  • At one booth, I specifically asked not to be contacted for a couple of months. They followed up with a phone call the Monday following the show, then later that week with an e-mail and an information packet … complete with a contract! Another phone call and e-mail came within two weeks. Was my name the only one they got from that show? It certainly felt like it!
  • One exhibitor left a voicemail message saying, “I’ve been trying to do all these calls and get them out of the way …”
  • Another time, I received a follow-up e-mail thanking me for my “recent interest.” Nothing wrong with that, right? The problem was that the e-mail was sent in August regarding a show held the previous November! (And you thought e-mail was fast!)
  • When one exhibitor I was especially interested in didn’t send anything, I actually called them several weeks after the show to remind them I was looking forward to receiving their materials. They never did respond!
  • Probably the most remarkable “don’t” came from a company thanking me for stopping by their booth at a show I never even attended!

There’s no shortage of ways to follow up with attendees after a show, from e-mails to information packets, phone calls to appointments with sales staff. But it’s all wasted if it’s not done in a timely, strategic manner. Closing a sale with a trade show lead can come much faster and at less expense than a traditional lead, according to studies done by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR). But that sale won’t come at all if the follow-up is rude, inappropriate, or contrary to what the attendee requested. The key is to have your plan in place before the show ever begins so that the follow-up steps can be completed the right way.

Have any follow-up horror stories to share? Please post them in the comments below. And if you want to learn tips for lead gathering, nurturing and management, join us for the featured Strategy of the Month calls in November in the Exhibit Marketers Café.

(Portions of this article excerpted from Build a Better Trade Show Image, © 2002 by Marlys K. Arnold)

© 2013 Marlys K. Arnold  (from the October 2013 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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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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