Modern Trade Show Lead Follow-Up

Modern Trade Show Lead Follow-Up
Trade Show Lead Follow Up.  Photo Courtesy of Flickr.
Trade Show Lead Follow Up. Photo Courtesy of Flickr.


Believe it or not, about 80% of exhibitors don’t follow up with the leads they’ve gathered after meeting new people in their trade show booth.


Sounds crazy, right?


Not to worry. This being the 21st Century, I’m going to share my favorite, easy, modern ways to connect with your leads after the event.




What could be simpler? Start typing your prospect’s name into the search bar on LinkedIn and in a few moments you can invite them to connect with you. I usually write the recipient a personal note to remind them how we met or about the conversation we had. Since LinkedIn is all about maintaining relationships with people you know, I think this improves your chances that they’ll accept your invitation. Now, this lead has a simple way to contact me, and I them.


-VIP Questions & Follow-Up

It seems like every show I staff, I leave with a list of a few very important clients & prospects that have questions or need quotes of a more in-depth nature. Ideally, these should be responded to within 24-48 hours. Due to the hectic timeline at the end of a trade show, I create reminders in my phone’s calendar to address these right away. I try to split the list into questions/quotes that I can ask someone at the home-office to reply to, and those that I should write to personally. This way I cut down on the overall response time.



Very often on the trade show floor, I’m doing a presentation for a client using a tablet or smartphone. In these instances, I find it very helpful to compose an email with the pictures, PDFs & catalogs we reviewed & send it to the prospect while they’re still in the booth. When practical, I prefer this tactic because I can ask them to verify they’ve received it (avoiding emails lost due to misspellings or hidden in Spam/Junk mail folders). In addition, they don’t have to carry around my catalog for the rest of the day!


-Group Emails

Did you collect contact info during the trade show with a lead retrieval machine or app? Did you get a list of attendees from show management? What about the business cards you’ve collected during the expo? A quick, group email can be used to thank those that stopped at your booth and to extend a reminder of your product & service offerings to all. We use Constant Contact to manage these lists, but there are many similar providers out there.



What steps will you take to improve your post-show communication? Leave your thoughts in the comment thread!  Learn more about exhibiting at trade shows in our other blog posts or by heading to our website.


Written by John Leberman, Marketing Coordinator for FB Displays & Designs, Inc.


FB Displays and Designs trade show display

The Five “L’s” of Exhibit Success

The 5 L's of Exhibit Success
The Five “L’s” of Exhibit Success
Photo Courtesy of Flickr

As I was cleaning my office the other day, I came across an article in Trade Show Week that was written almost 20 years ago by Michael Falkowitz, who, at that time, was Sales Development Manager at Nabisco.

Although it was printed some time ago, I would like to share a few lines of timeless advice from that article.

Following are five principles that will ensure both exhibit and job success:

* Learn:

Never stop learning.  The huge technical development that can be [attained] at trade shows is one example of the reasons why exhibit managers must continue to learn. Being a successful exhibit manager will involve knowing and applying this ever-evolving technology.

* Love:

Maintain a positive attitude even in stressful times. Respond to all inquiries. Ours is a communication business. It is rude [to] not respond to phone calls. Know everything there is to know about your company, and go the extra mile, no matter what task you face.

* Laugh:

Keeping a sense of humor can see you through stressful periods and make your- and your team members’- jobs much easier.

* Labor:

Like going the extra mile, doing the best possible job will help make your exhibit the center of attention. Hard work and sacrifice are part of the job.

* Leave:

When the show is done, it’s time to take back what you have learned and start applying those principles to the next trade show.

In closing, it is important to remember that a tradeshow display is not a museum. It’s a billboard, a time-compressed live marketing event and a communication process. Creating an exhibit that’s the center of attention is a matter of taking advantage of those features creatively.

Written by Francine Brooks, President of FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

Trade Show Trends of 2013

Photo Courtesy of Troy Stover
Photo Courtesy of Troy Stover

Once a year, trade show professionals assemble in Las Vegas for the industry’s leading conference and exposition, Exhibitor. Professionals in the trade show business have the opportunity to attend seminars, touch base with current suppliers, learn about new products, network and look into the future of trade show marketing.

Our operations manager, Troy attended Exhibitor2013 this year and returned to the office with some fresh ideas. Based on his observations from the show floor, there are 4 major trends this year in the trade show world. 

  • Interactive technology: If you were looking for a keyboard at Exhibitor, you would have been disappointed, as there were none to be found. The importance of technology of the show has increased significantly due to both the rise of social media and advances in touch screen technology.  Touch screen technology is being integrated into the displays themselves by way of large screens, into the staffers conversations with potential clients with tablets, and throughout the attendees’ experience via mobile devices. This is no different with our clients. We recently created a display for biomedical waste company BioServ that included 2 iPad stands. One iPad station will be used to run an E-procurement demo, while the other station will run a virtual golf game.
  • Fabric graphics: Fabric graphics have become the preferred graphic medium of choice, thanks to the emergence of dye sublimation (or dye sub) printing. Dye sub provides display manufacturers the opportunity to produce a high quality graphic at a lower price. Dye sub graphics also save exhibitors a considerable amount of money on shipping and repair costs, since fabric is lightweight, easy to transport, very easy to clean and less vulnerable to irreparable damage.  We have seen many of our clients move towards using fabric in their displays, including Curbell Plastics and Softlips.
  • Creating an environment vs. fabricating a display: Exhibit designers are focusing their attention on creating an experience at an exhibitor’s booth.  Display professionals have been taking a more holistic approach to exhibit design and using every tool at their disposal to create an ambiance that both engages attendees and represents the exhibitor’s branding.
  • Relaxation of booth staff uniforms:  Companies are moving away from mandating that booth staff wear the traditional suit at the company booth. Many exhibitors are choosing more “inviting” attire that helps create the feeling that staffers are approachable.  Many exhibitors have a staff uniform that is reflective of both their industry and the brand itself. For example, attendees at high-tech shows are often dressed casually and the expectation is that booth staff will be dressed casually as well.

Just like every other marketing channel, the trade show industry is constantly changing in response to advances in technology, product development and improvement efforts, and shifts in marketing ideologies. The major trends for 2013 reflect changes that are aimed at increasing attendee engagement and creating an inviting experience for attendees universally.

Going Mobile on the Trade Show Floor

Photo Courtesy of

Over the past few years, smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of everyday life. Since mobile devices are portable and can access a great deal of information within seconds, they are a natural fit for use in the trade show environment. Here are some tips for using mobile technology to your advantage at a trade show.

  • Include a highly visible QR Code on your display. The QR code should take users to a landing page that is optimized for mobile devices. The landing page can be your company’s homepage, a contest entry form, a lead qualification form, etc.
  • Use an app to collect leads. There are several apps that make lead retrieval very simple, such as iLeads and DUB, that allow you to scan a business card and enter the contact information into either your phone contacts or a database. Using a lead retrieval app will save you the headache of keeping up with hundreds of pieces of paper and trying to decipher a potential lead’s handwriting. The leads can be sent directly from your phone or tablet to your office.
  • Schedule appointments with prospects using the calendar function on your phone or tablet. This saves both you and the prospect the time of attempting to connect after the trade show and guarantees a better chance that the meeting will take place.
  • Many trade shows have an app created for the event. Download this onto your mobile devices and continually check for updates, changes, itineraries and announcements.
  • Take photos using the smartphone’s camera and share them on your company’s social media platforms. Include your booth number to encourage your followers at the show to visit your exhibit.
  • Stream video from the event to the home office, attendees and clients who were unable to attend, using social media and/or videoconferencing.
  • Ask attendees to share their own photos and videos from your exhibit through social media. To encourage attendee contributions, design a contest for attendees who share their images and videos of your exhibit through social media.
  • Design a simple, interactive game to be played on a mobile device housed at your exhibit. A game is memorable and increases attendee engagement. The game should easy to play, fun, casual and tied directly to your value proposition.
  • Process credit card payments using a device like AprivaPay, which attaches to your smartphone or tablet and allows you to swipe the client’s credit card.

Exhibitors who learn to leverage mobile technology on the trade show floor will ensure that their trade show appearance goes smoothly, while also increasing engagement with the show attendees. This leads to a greater amount of leads generated at the show and less time spent on administrative tasks associated with post-trade show follow-up, which ultimately improves ROI (return on investment).

Davidʼs Notes


The  article below is an excerpt from the January newsletter of one of our suppliers, ExpoDisplays. David Holladay, President of ExpoDisplays offers some “back to basics” sales advice that reinforces how the sales team at FBD2 works with our clients. 

Back to the Basics

In the world of sales, things can tend to get complicated. As we strive to learn more and more about the sales profession, we constantly develop new strategies that make us better at what we do. Sometimes this can lead to getting so far “out there” that we can forget the basics. What better time than the start of a new year to remind ourselves about the “little things” that can get overlooked, causing us to lose sales or waste time? So here are a few that I have to remind myself about before I dive into the sales process with a prospect.

Donʼt Assume Anything. Start Anew Each Time

When that longtime customer comes to you for a solution, treat her like an exciting new prospect, not like an automatic repeat customer. Donʼt take her for granted. Donʼt fall into the world of “inside sales” or “order taking”. We often make the mistake of assuming that we understand what someone wants because weʼve worked with her for so long. But that may not be the case. Things may have changed in her world. And the competition is after her, promising new,exciting ideas and products. Take her for granted and you may be beaten by the competition.

Establish a Budget – Every Time

Throw out numbers early and often in the process. Donʼt make the mistake of doing a bunch of work and offering solutions that end up being “too much” at the end of the process. If that happens, you have to start over and you have wasted your time and hers. In the beginning and at each step in the process get an estimated dollar amount on the table and make sure that she says “ok” before you proceed.

Present to Decision Makers

How many times do we have to hear “Thanks for all of the work but the boss wouldnʼt approve it” before we learn that we HAVE to get the decision makers involved in the process. Most sales people will tell you that they were not able to get in front of the decision maker, but 90% of those sales people never even tried because they were scared to ask. Your prospect should understand that you are trying to help her get what SHE wants. And the best way to help her sell the idea/product to the decision maker is to get the decision maker involved early in the process. Otherwise, youʼll both do a bunch of work for nothing. Early in the sales process you need to ask the following question, “How will the decision making process work and who are the people that will be involved?” Now help her navigate that process so she can get what she wants.

Donʼt Present Too Early

The solution that you present should be the very last thing in the process. Before you design, quote or present something, you need to have all your bases covered. You should have addressed everything to the point that when you present, you are simply expecting a “yes” or “no” answer. You should already know the budget, how the purchasing process will work, who the decision makers are and what each is looking for. If you donʼt know those things, you donʼt need to present a solution.

Understand the “Why”

Speaking of presenting too early, do you have a good understanding of “why” the prospect is looking for this product? If you donʼt, then you are just an inside sales person or a “quoter” and a good sales person that asks good questions will take this business from you. Remember this saying; “Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.” You must diagnose (the “why”) before you prescribe (the “what”). Donʼt get caught up in just quoting products based on what your prospect asks for, like pop-ups or banner stands. When your prospect uses one of those terms, ask the question, “Pop-up? Sure I can help you. What led you to decide on a pop-up?” The answer that you get may make it crystal clear that a pop-up is NOT really what this person needs.

Profitable Selling,

David Holladay

Holladay, David. “David’s Notes.” ExpoNews (20 Jan. 2013): n. pag. ExpoDisplays. Web.

Hey, I Just Met You… Now What Do I Do? Ways to Effectively Follow Up with Your Trade Show Leads

By Lisa Shackelford

The trade show has ended. You have returned to business-as-usual, bringing with you exhaustion, excitement and most importantly, your leads.  So now that you have new leads in hand, where do you begin following up with them?

Chances are, throughout the course of the trade show, many potential clients seemed excited about your products, were in the market to buy your type of products, and got to know you and your company better. Does that translate into attendees making a mad dash to their phones the minute they get back to the office? No. You will need to follow-up.  Hear are some processes that will help you organize your lead follow-up plan.

  • Have a designated point person.  Decide before the show who will be the person in charge of the leads.  Preferably, assign this to someone who will not attend the show, since employees that are attending will be playing catch-up when they first return from the show, and the leads may get pushed to the side for later. If the point person is not attending the show, he or she can begin implementing the follow-up process before the show is over.
  • Contact your most qualified leads within 24-48 hours of the show. Follow up with all leads within a week.
  • Before the show, train booth staffers on how to properly qualify potential leads. Teach them what your criteria is for a qualified lead and what questions to ask booth visitors. This will not only allow you to focus your follow-up efforts more efficiently, but this will also give the person following up useful information about the needs of the potential customer.
  • Create a lead generation form that contains pertinent qualifying information. Lead forms do not have to be paper-based; you can create one on a tablet or laptop.  Computerized lead capturing also ensures that leads are legible and information is less likely to be incorrect or misread.
  • Call your leads in order of priority.  Have a system of coding that prioritizes leads by follow-up priority.  You can use a color system, a numerical system, alphabetical, etc. A coding system keeps the leads organized and ensures that leads that are hot are being addressed first.
  • Have a follow-up plan in place before the show begins.  The plan should include how you will divide up the leads, what methods you will use to reach them and what will be the tone of your message. Different types of leads will call for different tones, so make sure to tailor your plan to include different strategies for different types of leads.

Following up with your trade show leads in a timely, organized fashion ensures that you are talking with your hottest prospects when your meeting is fresh in their minds. The goal of your trade show appearance is to generate new customers, and the key to moving trade show leads along in the sales process after the show is following up with potential customers quickly and methodically.

 Lisa Shackelford is the Marketing Coordinator at FB Displays & Designs, Inc. 

How to Engage Trade Show Attendees at Your Exhibit

Trade show marketing is most successful when attendees are engaged when visiting your exhibit. Creating an interactive experience at your exhibit solidifies your company’s message in the mind of a potential client. Here are some tips for engaging visitors at your exhibit.

  • Remember that first impressions are everything. Not only does your display need to grab the attention of attendees, but also your staff needs to appear enthusiastic and inviting to passersby.
  • Make sure your staff is trained properly on your products. A staffer who does not have appropriate product knowledge may feel insecure in their ability to interact with attendees and may be much more hesitant to speak with potential leads.
  • Conduct brief demonstrations. A demonstration gives attendees the ability to test out your product first-hand and highlights the value of your product in a tangible way.
  • Ask attendees open-ended questions, instead of reciting a sales pitch. Asking open-ended questions demonstrates your willingness to offer a solution to your clients’ business challenges and show the potential client what type of service they can expect from your company.
  • Use touch screen technology to bring a “hands-on” element to the exhibit. For example, you can use an iPad to showcase photos your products, play videos of your products in use, create in-booth activities and manage leads.
  • Activate multiple senses simultaneously. At an exposition I attended a few months ago, an exhibitor distributed fresh baked chocolate chip cookies to attendees. While the cookies satisfied their taste buds, the smell engulfed the room and drew attendees to the exhibit.
  • Use social media during the show to share what is happening at your exhibit. Live tweet during a show. Share pictures of your display on Twitter and Facebook while at the show. Encourage attendees to do the same, possibly with a contest or other incentive to participate.
  • Position your gregarious staffers at the front of your booth, close to the aisle.  These members of your team will be more comfortable starting a conversation with attendees who are passing by and may not have stopped otherwise.

The trade show environment creates a unique opportunity for vendors to interact with potential clients face-to-face. Engaging trade show attendees at your exhibit is the best way to leverage this advantage and create a memorable experience, that will unquestionably matter when the moment comes for your potential client to make a purchase.