BTB Speaker: Trade Show Leads Mismanaged

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TUCSON, AZ -- Trade show marketing represents as much as 17 percent of business-to-business marketing communications budgets, but companies need to improve their handling of trade show leads, according to a speaker at yesterday's B-to-B Marketing Conference here.

Dennis Frahmann, senior vice president of integrated marketing communications at Best Software, Irvine, CA, a provider of business software for small and midsized businesses, outlined several trade show "don'ts" such as:

· Spending a lot of time designing a booth and creating an environment without thinking about what should be invested to get people to visit it and follow up after the event.

· Not spending time to train staff members.

· Forgetting the immediate follow-up.

"Often a lot of the people involved in trade shows are very trade show-specific people," he said. "They aren't from a broader marketing background."

The time pressures at trade shows also must be dealt with.

"They are very time-intense activities," Frahmann said. "They are very driven by schedules and deadlines and mini-crises. The people who work that day to day are the kind of personality where they ... don't think about what it is they are handing off.

"Where it drops the ball is there hasn't been precision in gathering the lead itself. One mistake is not really gathering enough information to qualify it so that people can act on it."

The products or services that interest a prospect often are not determined, along with whether the contact is a decision maker or influencer.

"In almost every environment, they would need that kind of information and often don't get it," he said.

The problem simply may come down to a matter of respect.

"The trade show doesn't command the same kind of respect that maybe advertising or direct marketing, in general, has in an organization," he said.

Frahmann said that a response to qualified leads should be provided within a day of the end of a trade show -- in the form of a "thank you."

"Every lead that's gathered at a trade show does need to go through some processing before it's handed to the sales force to sort of truly qualify it -- a weeding out ... and a classification of the ones which are most important," he said.


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