March 26, 2024

Perfecting the Trade Show Follow-Up

By USGlass Editor

You spent your valuable time and resources attending a trade show. Now what? I’ve read many articles about how exhibitors and attendees fail to follow after an event. I’ve always said that the real work begins when you return to the office. Do you have a plan to follow up? Who will follow up? How will you follow up? The basics need to start with assigning the follow-ups.

As an attendee, it’s important that you have a show plan as well as a follow-up plan. Too many companies attend a trade show just to attend.

A good start would be to email all the leads you’ve collected. Thank them for stopping by and ask if they would like a follow-up from you. Lead them to your website or a personal follow-up with their local salesperson. Next, I would sort out the leads, customers wanting literature, specific product information, or personal follow-ups and assign them to specific people or departments.

It’s always hard to evaluate the return on investment of trade shows. You need to have a goal in mind. Did you attend to gain visibility and show you are a good corporate citizen by supporting your local or national associations? Were you launching a new product? Were you looking for new customers or making corporate announcements about plans? Were you evaluating the competition or seeking new products and vendors that could help your business?

You always want to designate a person to walk the show and report back on some of these issues. This includes how people attending thought it went, and how the attendance and market in their areas were. The best time to decide if you want to participate next year is right after you return when everything is fresh in your mind.

As an attendee, it’s important that you have a show plan as well as a follow-up plan. Too many companies attend a show just to attend. I always ask attendees stopping by our booth if they are looking for anything specific and if they have seen anything new or exciting as they walk the aisles.

You should also ask employees about the new products they saw and the trends they witnessed. Was it hardware, sealants, tools, machinery, etc.? They should also pick up show books, agendas and schedules that you can use to evaluate the show.

The most important thing to do as soon as you get back is to unpack the bag full of literature that you thought was important enough to lug back on the plane. Sort it out, and bring it to the people in your organization who can use it to impact your business. I always keep a file of literature and show information on all the shows we attend so you can refer to it when a job comes up six months from now. Include business cards. You may even want to put some contacts in your phone for future reference or look them up on LinkedIn and become a follower.

Remember, a trade show takes a few days, but we make our living every day.