Monday, October 25, 2010

How to get the most out an expo

You spent your money on a booth.  You invested your time.  You gathered lots of leads and prospects.  Now what?  As the old saying goes...The Fortune is in the Follow up!  Did you know only 20% of vendors follow up after a trade show or expo?!

I often participate in local expos and I make it a point to make my rounds to the other vendors typically before the expo starts.  The reason I do this is that the other vendors are typically my best prospects, so I want to meet them before all the activity starts.  I try and introduce myself.  I also register for or put my business card in the fish bowls for the drawings in hopes I'll be a winner. :)   I know that by doing so. my contact information will probably end up on the company's email distribution list.  However, I'm amazed at the ones that never follow up.  The statistic above of only 20% of vendors following up is about spot on and the other 80% complain they didn't get any business or wonder why they didn't get business.

Expos and Trade Shows aren't always about the sales.  It's sometimes more about exposure and connecting with people.  Even if the traffic is light, take the time to really engage with your potential clients.  Some of my my best clients came from the smallest and least attended events.  Always go with a positive attitude.  Good comes from everything.  Sometimes it may be six months later before you reap the benefits.

Here are some tips on things to do after the event to get the most out of your trade show investment:
  1.  - Follow up at least 24 to 48 hours after the event.  Those that were 'hot' prospects, call and find out their needs.  Schedule an appointment to meet with them ASAP and/or send them additional information.
  2. - An email blast is great to say thankyou to everyone who stopped by your booth.  Contstant Contact is a great service to use to follow up.  It gives the ability to send a professional email with photos and special offers to all prospects and it usually makes it through most spam folders. 
  3. - If you offered a door prize, be sure and announce in your email blast, on your website and/or Facebook Fan Page who the winner was.  This adds to your credibility.
  4. - Perhaps offer a special 'Expo discount' if they purchase within a certain time frame.  Or if the event was for a fund raiser, offer to donate a portion of your sales to the organization.
  5. - Sending out 'thank you for stopping by' via traditional mail is also a good effective follow up.  Send a greeting card or postcard within 2 to 3 days after the event. Again perhaps with a special post expo offer.
  6. - Keep in touch.  People buy when they are ready to buy and now may not be the time.  Add your prospects to your distribution list/CRM and follow up with them periodically.  It usually takes someone hearing from you 7 to 8 times and then they to have a need before they are ready to buy.  If you stay 'top of mind,' you'll be the one they call or refer.
  7. - When they do buy or provide a referral - say Thank You!  Send a thank you note perhaps with a gift card.
Think beyond the immediate sale.  Work on building the relationship.  To keep relationships strong, companies need to regularly remind clients that they are important to them.  They also need to remind them who they are, what they do, what services they offer, and why they are their best choice for their product or service.  Busy people tend to choose the fastest solution to a problem.  By keeping in touch, a company makes themselves stand apart from the rest of the crowd and their clients and prospects are more apt to call them the next time they need their product or service.

What other advice would you offer to maximize the investment of participating in a trade show or expo?

In gratitude,
Painted Lady Enterprises
"Helping You and Your Business Look Good" 

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