As a veteran marketer, I have seen many shifts in the industry, from not staffing a trade show booth with sales people (their time is far too valuable to take them out of the field), to sending entire sales teams (they get valuable face-to-face time with customers and prospects). I’ve given away cars, provided a NASCAR experience, offered up shoe shines, and created memorable experiences. All as a way to drive traffic to the booth.
Every time a badge gets scanned, whether it’s a delegate, a speaker, a member of the press, or another vendor, that person becomes a trade show lead.
So how do you define a trade show lead? Is it the number of scanned badges? The number of quality conversations?
More importantly, how are you interacting with these potential leads? What type of experience are you providing?
Trade shows provide a unique opportunity to go beyond digital lead gen activities. Here is where you get to shake hands and look the other person in the eye. It’s where you can have the 1:1 conversations critical for business success. Because as vendors, sometimes we get so wrapped up in the “official script” that we lose sight of the tremendous opportunity to learn what really matters “direct from the horse’s mouth”.
It’s all in the math
How do you balance those in-depth conversations with the need for leads? And how can you ensure that you are attracting the right leads to your booth?
There’s a standard formula that many marketers use when projecting lead targets at trade shows that focus on 3 metrics:
Number of Exhibit Hours (fixed) x Number of Exhibit Staff (fixed) x Interactions Per Hour (variable) = Total Lead Goal
For example, if you’re in a 10 x 10 booth at Print 18 and expect each conversation to last about 15 minutes (4/hour), then the formula would look like this:
31 exhibit hours x 3 exhibit staffers x 4 leads collected per hour = 372 leads to collect.
That’s 124 leads per staffer based on 15 minutes of conversation per lead. That’s presuming a steady flow of traffic to your booth throughout the duration that the show floor is open. And it’s presuming you have the staff to engage in these conversations. That means adjusting the formula to account for breaks, traffic flow, longer (or shorter) conversations, etc.
The easier you make it for your prospects to not only find you, but want to engage with you, the more likely you are to achieve your goals.
How inviting is your booth? Have you made it easy for visitors to book meetings with you? Are you leveraging the show’s hashtag throughout your social media channels? (ie: #Print18) Are you promoting your presence on your website? There is no shortage of pre-show marketing tactics to choose from.
Offer booth visitors a variety of opportunities to engage and learn about your offering. Create a theatre experience and run 30 to 45-minute product demos; folks can take a load off, have a peek under the hood, and ask questions. Need a more in-depth, tailored conversation? One way is to create a lounge area, complete with a comfy couch. Set up demo pods around the booth, manned by the folks who can answer technical questions, complemented by business specialists who can have the conversations about ROI. And, of course, you need branded swag and plenty of collateral for visitors to gather and read at their leisure (once you’ve scanned their badge of course).
Will a 15-minute conversation satisfy the needs of your booth visitor? Are you prepared to sacrifice badge scans for more (and longer) in-depth conversations? What impression are you leaving with that visitor…and potential customer? And what about the folks at your booth who may be overlooked while you have those conversations with a “hot lead”?
Whether you’re a delegate or a vendor, trade shows like Print 18 are a chance to share and learn about the challenges our industry is facing today and the opportunities for business growth.
With a winning formula, you’re one step closer to achieving your trade show lead gen targets.