Now that the Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing, complete with Twitter feed (@IntlCES), the event is, as expected, drawing lots of attention with over 3,000 exhibitors. Well attended last year, organizers expect more than the 150,000+ of 2012. Especially intriguing so far is big news on a deal between cable giant Time Warner Cable and streaming TV player Roku to offer the full cable experience using a Roku setup box. So you can watch cable without those clunky cable boxes.
That’s quite a leap forward for those of us who actually had to touch the TV in order to change a channel or adjust the volume. But I’m aging myself; sorry.
Getting back to the point, major trade shows like CES 2013 are a reminder to all of us, no matter what our business or how many of these shows we get to attend or exhibit at, of the many opportunities to connect made possible by events like this.
You see what’s new. You talk with potential customers or established ones. You meet others in your line of work, maybe touch base with vendors or suppliers. You check out the competition. You get all kinds of giveaways from exhibitors. While you’re at the show, it’s you’re job to soak up all you can… take notes, keep business cards, attend and participate in seminars while also enjoying the sights and sounds and social life of a new place.
When you get back to the office, it’s follow up that must become a priority. One of the reasons you went to the show in the first place was to make contacts, right? And yet studies show that many leads are just not contacted in any way, a waste of time and effort. Sure it’s easy to put off… to get caught up in other things, yet following up on those trade show contacts is incredibly important and will set you apart because so few others do this. We’ve come across some smart, practical suggestions from the blog at the Trade Show News Network, put together by Lisa Apolinski that are a great place to start.
Most experts will tell you that getting in touch within a week (or less) is your goal in terms of trade show follow up. Hopefully you’ve already got a system in place for scoring (decision makers, budget size, timetable) leads and the type of follow up they’ll get. Some ideas we’ve mentioned before include creating a few different packages to address the needs of different types of leads:
- one with a special offer that carries a strong call to action
- one with additional details (fact sheets, case studies) or selling points of your product/service
- one that includes an article or other information you may have discussed
If you haven’t done this, or don’t intend to, make sure that whatever marketing package you do send includes a personalized communication. Try to refer to the conversation you had with the person at the show. It’s also acceptable to mention how your product might solve a problem you’d discussed with them. Of course, if they asked, send specifics.
If all else fails, a neatly handwritten note, on your company letterhead works just fine —
Dear (Lead First Name),
It was great to see you at (event name here). I was able to find the information we discussed so I’m sending it along. Be in touch soon to talk more,
Your name and number
This is your start at building that all-important relationship, so take the time to be sure it’s a good one. You wan’t that contact to feel like you listened, heard and responded to their needs. Personalized follow up, delivered quickly, goes a long way to doing just that.
It’s also a good idea to share your experiences at a trade show when you get back to the office… even if you only have a small staff. New ideas. Upcoming trends. Reactions to products. And yes even the swag you collected. All this is valuable information for them to have, and helps maximize the benefits you get from attending these kinds of events.