Business expo follow up is crucial

The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo and the Business After Hours Expo in Petoskey will be here before we know it! As you make plans for the April 22 events–setting up your booth, printing new collateral materials, and ordering give-away items–don’t forget one of the most important aspects of trade show marketing: a post-expo marketing plan.

Your planning should address three items: follow through, follow through, follow through! Seriously, following up on leads and contacts made at the show is the key to seeing a return on your trade show investment of time and money. The following are just a few ideas to include in your plan:

1. Follow up personally and immediately on requests for information. Mail out materials you promised the very next day, or better yet, fax or e-mail the names and addresses of the leads back to your office during the show. Have a member of your staff collate the information and fax or mail it out that day so that your prospect has it in his or her hand that much sooner, perhaps even when they return to their office!

2. Make use of contact management software such as ACT! or create a simple contact database using Microsoft Access, for example. Aside from the basic contact information such as name, address, phone and fax numbers, be sure to include e-mail addresses, web sites, key items you discussed, and even a key word or two. Most contact management and database programs will allow you to search key words so that you can target future marketing efforts to particular leads or customers.

3. When you read local newspapers and trade journals, think about your clients and prospects. Clip articles that are about, or would be of interest to, your clients and prospects. Then send a copy of the article along with a brief note.

4. Follow up with notes or e-mails to people you met at the show.

5. Close all sales discussed at the show as soon as you return to the office. Each day you wait to follow up decreases the likelihood of closing the deal.

6. Work with your staff to ensure that all leads and inquiries received at the show are handled the same way. Review the questions you want your staff to ask prospects, as well as your “sales pitch” so that your message is consistent.

7. Meet with staff to review the show. What went well? What changes do you want to make for next year? What feedback did you received from other exhibitors and attendees?

8. Recognize and reward staff for their time spent on the show, both in preparation and on site. Don’t forget support staff who assisted with preparation and follow up and who held down the fort while you were at the show. Consider giving employees that attended the show a day off. Trade shows can be fun, but they’re also exhausting.

9. Look at show expenses against budget, as well as against the sales and leads you gained. Be sure to include all costs of the show–exhibit space, staff time, shipping, printing, promotions, etc. When evaluating the benefits, consider name recognition, networking opportunities, and other intangibles, in addition to actual sales.

10. Continue to measure sales results from the show on a monthly basis for six months following the event.

Kimberlee Roth (tcn@qualityce.com) is a Marketing Consultant with Idea Stream, a graphic design, print and marketing firm, as well as North Bay/Bioscience, Inc., both of Traverse City; 933-6635. BIZNEWS

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