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Welcome to Advice from the Booth Mom editorial series, each article you will gain insight on how to set up your company trade show schedule, planning logistics and marketing efforts strategically at industry events. This week’s article from the Booth Mom is on the business card and why they are not considered a lead.

The Business Card

I was reading an article in a trade show industry journal, and one of my pet peeves jumped out and grabbed me.  My blood pressure immediately shot up. It was an article on the way exhibitors got attendees to drop off their business cards at their exhibit and how great it was to get so many more trade show leads by using some schlocky gimmick that did not correlate with the exhibitor’s message.

I hate to be the one to break the bad news to the exhibitors who do this, but what they have is not leads.  At the end of the day, you just have more business cards…. and that is NOT the same as leads!

Having a Lucite® ice bucket in your exhibit gathering cards for a high-ticket-item raffle is not exactly qualifying show suspects into prospects.  That is unless you actually sell what you’re raffling off, which isn’t usually the case.

Now don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with collecting business cards if your objective is to populate a database, say, for a mailing list, and you mark the business card bucket with a sign that says, “Want to join our mailing list?  Insert card here —>”. Then you’re on the right track and meeting your objective.

However, if you’re working with your sales force to get them accurate, complete qualifying information they can use to contact prospects after the show and turn those prospects into customers, just gathering business cards is downright counterproductive.  In their eyes, it brings down the value of all the leads you present them since there is so little value in just contact information. You’ve tainted your entire lead pool.

Common elements of a qualified lead

If you asked your sales staff what information they need to turn a trade show contact into a warm post-show call worth making, they’ll probably list of most of these things:

1)  Accurate contact information, including correct title and verified phone number and email address

2) A decision-making role in influencing, recommending or purchasing the type of product or service you’re selling

3) Which product(s) or service(s) the prospect expressed an interest in

4) An expressed need for your solution to solve their specific problem

5) The timeframe when the prospect needs your solution

6) The budget for acquiring your solution

7) A desire for a specific post-show follow-up (email, catalog, phone call, demo, proposal, etc.), with a timeframe attached (call by August 15, email catalog URL immediately, add to e-newsletter database before Q4 mailing, etc.)

I can’t remember the last time I saw this information on a business card.  It’s not on my card. How about yours?

So, I guess there is a difference between a business card and a qualified lead.

The Wheat from the Chaff

And, if you’re serious about sorting out your real prospects from your “trick or treaters” at a show, add an 8th question to your lead form.  A simple yes or no answer will do the trick to cull out the ~30% of the “trick-or-treaters” who have no real interest in your product and only came by for your SWAG.  And most people will be truthful when they answer it. Add: “I’m only here for the giveaway. No follow-up required. □Yes □ No”.

Then head straight to the circular file (or just add them to your email database) with those who checked “Yes”!

Your sales force will love you for it!

Keep an eye out for my next article, as I will dive into effective exhibit graphics and what makes graphics effective? Do you have a question or want me to go over a specific topic? Click here. 

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