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We get a lot of cards at expos but no one picks the phone after the show!

Does this happen to you? Do you find your team saying “it was a great show” at the end of an event, and after a month sharing “poor return-on-investment” for the same?

Here’s the good news: you are not alone. 80% of exhibitors share the same fate. Here’s an even better news: there are simple strategies that you can execute to change your fate.

Before, we go further, allow us to share our two basic assumptions:

  • You have selected the Right Exhibition for your business
  • You want to maximise your Return-on-Investment (RoI). If you are playing a brand building game, some of the strategies suggested here may not work.

To put together these tips, our journalists spoke to many exhibitors who fall in the other 20% bracket (they typically get good RoI on their investments in a trade-show), and also trade-show experts and organisers.

They’ve then divided the challenges faced into different parts and provided tips to tackle each of them…

Challenge #1: Your booth is empty-ish. The customer approaches your booth. Seeing that it’s empty and your reps busy amongst themselves, hesitates to enter your booth. Instead, moves on to other booths.


  • Ensure you have a couple of team members ready to engage with visitors who approach your booth—visitors don’t like to enter booths where everyone is sitting down or busy with themselves.
  • Ensure this welcome team have hand-outs or leaflets to hand over to each visitor or demos to take them to.
  • Ensure they are trained to ask leading questions to know whether to engage or not.
  • Ensure they capture all details of the visitors seeking handouts, demos or any other info.
  • Design these questions such that this staff can recognise when the visitor is the likely ‘prospect’ you want them to take to the next level.
  • Keep these questions simple and few–ideally, not more than 5.
  • You could use tablet PCs to capture the information faster–could even ask users to enter their own info.
  • Try and use bar-code scanning tools like handheld scanners or mobile apps to scan information of all visitors–so you don’t have to ask for that in your forms.
  • For all the qualified visitors, train the team to ensure that they get motivated to meet key representatives (who have an exciting offer for them).
  • As part of the form, you may seek their permission to send them your news-letters and offers & updates.

Challenge #2: Your booth is filled with information-seekers, while the Big Customer is waiting to speak to your representative. She waits, and then goes away.


  • Overall, it boils down to—dividing your booth into two separate spaces.
  • The first space should be designed to welcome and engage with every visitor who walks by and shows interest in your booth.
  • The second space is to take the ‘right prospects’ to for detailed discussions with your sales team.
  • If you don’t have enough space in your booth, you could take your high-level visitor to meet sales team at the nearest Lounge or café.
  • Ensure there is a dedicated team, ready to meet visitors qualified by your engagement team.
  • This team should NOT try and keep themselves busy in entertaining any visitors to make themselves feel productive. They must keep themselves free to meet qualified customers only.
  • This team should be armed with a special offer for every qualified visitor they meet, which should expire within one month of the event being held.
  • The offer should be designed such that there is value for the customer to give you a meeting at their premises–thus escalating the level of trust and comfort between the two organisations (for example, architects may offer a free layout OR EMS firms may offer a free BOM estimation.

Challenge #3: Your team met many enthusiastic prospects at the booth. After the show, no one is ready to meet your team.


  • Research indicates that most delegates get pounded with emails from exhibitors within the week after the event. Thus, the 7 days after any event is the worst time to target them.
  • Try and setup a system to shoot a Thank You email on the same day you interacted with your visitors–at least for qualified visitors. Not many exhibitors do this, so chances of your email being viewed are higher. Plus, a much better impression in the minds of your customer.
  • Send them another Reminder Email after 1 week indicating your Special Offer if they give an appointment to meet with your team.
  • You may send them a third email, after two to three weeks indicating lapse of the offer.

With these simple tips, we are confident that you will see a multi-fold increase in the engagement and RoI that you get from your investment in trade-shows.

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