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Why Didn't Your Last Trade Show Pay Profits?

A few weeks ago I visited a trade show and strolled each of the aisles several times. As I did I picked up a few ad premiums, dropped my card in about two dozen "fish bowl" drawings (didn't win a thing!) and got my show ID scanned a few times. I talked with a few reps about what they did, and actually found one that I wanted to talk with. He was working with another attendee, so I handed him my card with a note saying "Call Me". That was over a month ago. And not a single exhibitor has contacted me.

Have you ever wondered why you Trade Show Investment didn't pay off? Have you thought about your follow-up?

In the past year we participated in a few trade shows around the region. It was very exciting getting organized for the first, but after that they all went smoothly. We had the booth fixtures and displays, all the materials, product demonstrations and promotions. After each show we simply packed them up again, replaced everything that had been handed out, and were ready to go on a few days notice.

But the show was only half the battle. Then came follow up, and we tried to prepare in advance: within a day or two after each show all our leads had been entered into our database. We used Constant Contact to send out a "Thank You For Visiting Our Booth" email to the entire group, personalized by name. It included info on who had won the free drawing we offered at the show. The email blast included an offer for a Free Guide on "How To Give the Perfect Sales and Service Presentation To Your Best Clients and Prospects...And Deliver It Flawlessly, Every Time". The Free Guide could be downloaded by emailing us, or by visiting our website.

The next step was postal mail follow up. We sent out a special after-show mailing, talking about the products we had exhibited, and repeated the offer for the free guide.

For the toughest part of the follow up, we evaluated each lead based on the company or the notes we made on the business cards we collect. Good, better, best. Our database made it easy to start following up with phone calls within a few days of the show. Think about it: Even when you come across something interesting you'll forget it within a few days. So it's crucial to contact your best prospects within a few days of the show. Lower potential prospects can be reminded with emails blasts and direct mail, but still contacted by phone. The goal on every call was to arrange a personal meeting.

The point is that if you want your investment in your trade show to pay off, you can't just assume that the sales will come to you like attendees at a trade show. When the trade show lights go down it's only the beginning of the sales process. A well orchestrated follow up program will result in the best profitability.

Why didn't your last trade show pay off? Send me an email with "Making My Next Tradeshow Pay Off" and I'll send you a 10-point checklist that will make sure that your next show is your most profitable ever.

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