Using a Tradeshow to Your Advantage

How to get it right the first time with a solid plan for the show floor

* The Disinterested - This crowd is simply not interested in your products or services and will let you know in no uncertain terms through their body language. Waylaying these types will only upset them and waste your time.

* Hawks - Attend shows for the sole purpose of selling you something; publication advertising representatives are a prime example. They are unlikely to be prospects, but you never know. If floor traffic is slow, it may be worth asking a few questions, if only to gather potential referrals.

* Resume Hounds - Trade shows are an excellent networking environment and represent a quick and easy avenue for people to distribute their resumes. If you looking to fill positions, have job descriptions on hand, if not, have a plan to screen and move these folks onto the next "victim."

* Researchers - These individuals could be underlings in their organization sent to conduct specific research. Do not underestimate them. They may be extremely strong influencers or know the appropriate contact within their organization for your product or service. Time spent with them could be invaluable.

* Snoops - The competition! Check the badge and beware of individuals that know too much or ask precise questions. Minimize their access to any proprietary information and other important materials that could be duplicated and provide insight into your target markets or approaches to lessen the chances of giving away valuable information.

Telephone Screening - It is a wasted effort to work hard preparing for and attending a trade show, only to then send out information to leads without making sure they received the right information. A phone call not only verifies that information was received and questions answered, but reinforces the professionalism of your company and your desire to meet your customer?s needs. Telephone follow-up works best if received within a day or two of the receipt of materials, while they may not have reviewed them yet, they should remember receiving and may get into a brief discussion. Follow-up materials should be personalized and address specific concerns discussed during on the show floor, as well as have appropriate messaging in the letter and on the envelope regarding Materials As Requested. In addition, if you can include value-added information relevant to their position or vertical market such as an interesting article or research, the value of the communication increases starting the contact in a non-threatening, non-sales context, i.e., "Did you receive the article regarding the latest trends in security concerns amongst facility managers?"

Track Detailed Lead Information - The more detailed and accurate all of your follow-up efforts are, the easier it is to track quantifiable results generated from the show. While it is often impossible to track where all of your sales come from, some simple due-diligence by your staff at the time of sale can provide your company with valuable information regarding your marketing efforts, including trade show attendance.

Last, contacting every lead and tracking responses to various campaigns and messages will provide constructive feedback that can be immediately implemented to improve the performance of the campaigns. In fact, follow through and tracking are often the most important elements of the process. Create a tactical implementation plan that provides timelines and measures repetition and depth of campaigns on targeted audiences. This integrated monthly timeline ensures that you reach each target audience with multiple exposures through multiple channels effectively and consistently.

Find creative methods to maintain and increase value-added and anticipated communications with clients and prospects that reinforce your message and position your company as a resource for security-related knowledge and expertise. By creating a continuous communications loop with integrated efforts such as coordinated E-newsletters, advertising, telephone contacts and special events, you will support the efforts of your sales force and operations for increased brand recognition and satisfaction.