How to lose leads and waste money exhibiting at events

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Events are big business: in 2017, companies worldwide spent a staggering $500bn on events. But when we attend events we see businesses making the same mistakes time and again – hampering lead collection and follow-up, and ultimately lowering their return on investment.

We’re sharing some of the most common mistakes we see when attending events, that amount to missed sales opportunities and lost money for the businesses involved. Is your team making any of these mistakes when your company exhibits at events?

1) Losing Leads

How often do you make it back to the office absolutely certain that you’ve got every single business card you were handed during the event?

Gulp.

Who hasn’t found the odd business card, scribbled contact details, or crumpled lead form at the bottom of a laptop bag or in a jacket pocket weeks after an event? If you’re relying on paper forms or taking business cards as your primary method of lead collection at events, one or two are bound to go missing. It happens.

But every one of those people whose card gets lost is a potential customer for your business.

2) Missing Data

Similarly, if you’re using badge scanners or lead retrieval devices to collect leads, how often do you get data back from the event organiser that’s full of holes?

We’ve spoken to event exhibitors in the past who have admitted using a generic Hotmail or Gmail email address when registering for events, to avoid unwanted follow-ups, so it should be no surprise when attendees do the same.

3) Disengaged Booth Staff

One of the most common causes for concern that we see when attending exhibitions is booth staff who spend more time talking with each other than talking to attendees – or simply sit looking at their phones.

Staffing stands at events is a long, tiring job, so it’s worth thinking carefully about the teams you send out. Do you have enough people to allow everyone to have regular breaks? Otherwise, the slump in energy levels will be unavoidable. Equally, it’s important to remind your event team that the exhibition is your best chance to speak with potential customers – not to socialise with each other.

4) Low Confidence

This is something we see a lot when businesses send junior team members to staff their booth at an exhibition. Often, these junior employees don’t have the confidence to directly engage with attendees, and will happily wait until they are approached to speak with anyone.

This means your booth team are having far fewer conversations at events than if you’d got more confident or experienced team members there. If this happens, your business isn’t getting the full value from exhibiting at the show.

5) Mixed Messages

Another common way we see companies wasting the opportunity of exhibiting at huge trade shows is when booth staff haven’t been properly briefed beforehand. We see teams who aren’t sure about their company’s message, or the core benefits of their product or service.

This means they’re unsure about how to talk to attendees, and attendees will have a very variable experience with your business, depending on which team member they spoke with.

For example, I went to an event recently and spoke with an exhibitor who provided promotional, branded materials for their customers, but when I asked for more information it became clear he didn’t know anything beyond their hook – trying to get me to enter a competition.

As a marketer and budget holder who is involved in ordering promotional swag for the Akkroo office, I could have been a great lead for his company. So for him, that was a great opportunity wasted.

6) Booth Staffing Levels

This one can be hard to get right. If an event is much busier than anticipated, you can end up with an understaffed booth, with your team struggling to keep up with conversations and speak to everyone that comes by. Equally, if it’s quieter than expected, you can have too many staff at your booth, which can feel like a waste of team hours.

7) Broken lead capture processes

Finally, your lead capture processes can let you down, and lose valuable leads for your business. We see some companies at events with long, complex forms designed to cover every eventuality – but they end up putting-off potential leads who don’t want to spend twenty minutes simply filling out paperwork.

Even worse, we see companies who have spent ages before the event setting up a perfectly-branded online form for leads to fill out. Then they get to the event, and the WiFi doesn’t work, or is so slow that it becomes unusable. This means the company either has a last-minute scramble to set-up a paper form to capture leads (which looks unprofessional), or they try to persevere with their online form, and risk losing leads if it doesn’t work.

Stop wasting money when exhibiting

Events typically exist in a silo, away from the rest of your company’s marketing and sales activities. While sales and marketing are ruthlessly measured and held directly accountable for generating revenue for your business, the same isn’t true for events.

But events aren’t cheap – we see companies spend tens of thousands per event. So maybe it’s worth reviewing the success of your recent events, to see if there are any improvements to make and improve the return on investment of each event – so you stop losing leads and wasting money.

Get the most out of trade shows with our simple checklist: Download the 4-step checklist