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#5.15: The “How NOT to Do a Trade Show, WebTrends” Issue

Leading analytics provider, WebTrends, helps us all learn how to improve our web traffic. They also gave us a lesson in how NOT to get the most out of a trade show.

1> Don’t Be Too Appealing
2> Be Ready to Pitch
3> Sort Prospects as You Go
4> Follow Up With the Live Leads — Fast
5> Skip The “Pleased to Meet You” Email
6> Be Contactable
7> Don’t Mess With Permission

1> Don’t Be Too Appealing

There’s no relationship between prize seekers and qualified customers. An effective trade show booth will attract qualified leads, and will repel casual browsers who aren’t interested in buying. WebTrends’ booth featured a chance to win a new Apple laptop — and had a line of unqualified, random people who wanted the prize. The funny thing is that they also had a fantastically specific incentive — a free report from eMarketer on Web analytics. Only real internet marketers would care about this report, making it the perfect bait for live leads.

THE LESSON: Offer a boring prize that only appeals to your target customer.

2> Be Ready to Pitch

When we walked into their booth — twice — there was no one available to answer basic questions or walk us through a demo. We asked if we could schedule a demo at a specific time, but they weren’t sure. We asked for a follow up call, but it never happened.

THE LESSON: Don’t go to a show unless you are ready to sell. Don’t staff the booth with your second stringers.

3> Sort Prospects as You Go

As we walked away from the booth, we watched the Webtrends staffer toss our business cards into a big pile, even after we indicated that we are ready to buy. We’ve all walked out of a crowded conference with a stack of business cards — and no idea who was worth following up. It’s worse if you ask everyone who shows up to drop their card in a fishbowl or enter a sweepstakes. Set up a procedure to extract real leads and file them away for quick follow up. If you don’t do it immediately, you’ll never be able to remember who was who.

THE LESSON: Isolate and prioritize serious prospects.

4> Follow Up With the Live Leads — Fast

You’ve got five days before a potential customer forgets you. That face-to-face meeting at the event is priceless –don’t waste the opportunity. Most of us are exhausted by the end of a conference. A week or two slips, before we recover and follow up with leads.

THE LESSON: Assign one person to call all serious leads while the relationship is fresh.

5> Skip the “Pleased to Meet You” Email

WebTrends sent us the generic, “nice to meet you” email… 9 days later. Don’t do it. It’s a worthless technique — and it tells serious prospects that you weren’t serious about getting their business. Get a real salesperson on the phone to follow up with the real leads. See #3 if you don’t know who’s worth calling.

6> Be Contactable

It’s embarrassingly difficult to get in touch with WebTrends. And I really do want to use their product.

– I replied to their email, asking to speak to a salesperson. It bounced.

– I tried to fill out a form on their website, they blocked me by insisting on opening an account and creating a password. Too much to ask for a live lead.

THE LESSON: Remove all barriers that keep prospects from reaching you.

7> Don’t Mess With Permission

We’re all hypersensitive to unwanted email, nobody wants to be added to a list without permission. WebTrends did, in fact, ask for permission from people who filled out the form in the booth — but it was easy to miss the fact that you were signing up for a list. We were surpised when we got an email that told us we were on an annoucement list. Don’t risk pissing off a potential new customer — it doesn’t count if someone doesn’t realize that they are signing. Consent has to be informed and voluntary, always.

THE LESSON: Be incredibly clear and obvious when asking for permission to send email. No surprises.

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