• Forward Thinking EDU

Going from Trade Show Lead to Customer

Michael Campbell, Principal Advisor, Forward Thinking EDU

You are fresh from the trade show route, ISTE, ILA, NPC, ALA, NCCC, should I go on?  But, most marketers and sales managers come back to your offices after a trade show, and benchmark your success on the number of leads you collected. However, the contact information you collected may only be valuable for your next email newsletter or some informational campaign. 

Trade shows are great to drive awareness but unless you have targeted key customers, your trade show strategy will suffer. Many organizations use a multi-touch strategy to make sure they get leads which ultimately enable the sales team to add them to the sales funnel. Successful ideas include:

  • Setting appointments with potential clients in advance of the meeting

  • Providing alternates to the traditional booth activities (e.g., presentations, games, offsite activities, etc.)

  • Training booth staff to identify decision-makers vs. influencers 

Once you are back in the office, how will you follow-up with the sales team and your leads? Marketers gain increased credibility by providing marketing qualified leads that have been vetted and can potentially lead to sales. Many times, we just dump all leads on the sales team, leading to wasted time by sales calling on potential customers who are not interested or are not able to authorize a purchase.  

Additionally, it is just as important to follow up with those leads from the show. With the number of activities and booths at each conference, providing a reminder of your products or services along with added value content.  You might consider:

  • The best of the conference (sessions, events, speakers, etc.)

  • White paper or case study

  • Funding update (grants, federal or state funding)

  • Referrals (voice of your customer) 

Consider how you deliver the follow-up. Many educators are out of their buildings during July.  Are you able to target them via personal email? Note: MCH Strategic Data may be able to append your data to add this feature to your campaign. With the number emails we all receive, test your subject line to make sure you get the most opens.  

Finally, how are you tracking your leads? In the education industry, the sales cycle can be long.  Make sure your CRM system is updated with each customer touch so that you can calculate the cost of acquiring a lead all the way through closing a sale. My former colleague at Follett, Sheri Thompson, Director of Events, is very adept at tracking not only the individuals, but the schools and districts, knowing that individuals moved from position to position and district to district. Sheri is able to track a customer all the way back to the first trade show lead.  

ISTE, ALA, ILA, and the rest of the conferences were a success. Educators and industry professionals came together in each of the cities to celebrate, to learn, and to network around educational themes and ultimately how education can be improved. Now it is time to re-group and begin planning for the 2017-2018 school selling season. 

Forward Thinking EDU specializes in helping organizations big and small with strategic marketing and market development strategies and services. Let our experienced advisors help you plan and implement your next school product or solution marketing and sales launch. From strategy to execution, we provide results. We want to partner with you as you grow or build upon previous successes. Email Michael Campbell, Principal Advisor or call (224)357-8283.

July 11, 2017


Fox River Grove,

Illinois 60021

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Phone:  (877)380-2785

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