How to Use Surveys to Generate Leads and Customers at Trade Shows

So, you’re going to a trade show.  That usually involves sitting down and brainstorming ways to bring qualified leads to your booth and converting them into profitable customers.

Here is a quick check list that you can use to make sure that you’re covering all your bases to get the most customer conversations out of your trade show events.

One of the most obvious materials you will need for everything on this list is the trade show web site and list of attendees.  You’ll also want to be sure that you can get either a mailing list of the attendees or that you will be able to reach the attendees via email – either the show gives you this list or you give them the information that you’d like to send.

Focus on your sales and marketing goals.  The very first thing is to define what goals you’re after.  It doesn’t always have to be about gathering leads.   Here are a few sample objectives:

  • Get face to face time with the following clients that we only know via email.  You will need that attendee list or list of companies so that you can see if any of your customers will be there.  If you’re not sure, reach out to the ones that you know from the list.
  • Generate “x” number of qualified leads per day.  For this objective, you will need a clearly defined list of what a qualified customer is. Use your Survey Analytics platform to create a qualifying or profiling survey.  You can also use SurveySwipe to do this and funnel all your visitors into a research panel.
  • Schedule or deliver “x” number of demonstrations.
  • Find out what our biggest competitor will launch next year
Set a theme for the year.  One of my favorite strategies is to set a theme for a series of trade shows.  Find a theme that features what you are selling and combines it with something that’s important to your customers.  If you make your theme unexpected or extreme, people will stop to your booth just to SEE what’s going in.  One company that was in the medical industry chose a 100-yard dash as a theme.  Their trade show booth features HUGE pictures of runners crossing a finish line, their promotional items were running hats and water bottles and their sales message was around a new product that allowed doctors to cross the finish line and meet a medical records deadline for converting to software.  It was a HUGE hit because they were the only exhibitor that didn’t feature pictures of doctors and nurses and hospitals.

Reach out to as many customers before the show.  If you have the time, definitely send out a direct mail piece or invitation to customers or prospects that you want to meet.  Instead of sending thousands of mailings – target just those companies that will help you achieve your marketing goals.

This is a great opportunity to use a survey!  You can create a qualifying survey that gets attendees engaged by asking them qualifying questions that focus on the 5-7 key frustrations that they may have that your product or service can solve.  Think about working the survey questions like a quiz — people LOVE that.

Then, when they answer the last question of the survey and click “Finish” or “Submit” you send them to a customized landing page for the trade show that provides a mini report based on the responses that they might have given to the survey.  This would look like the Quiz answer page in a magazine and say things like “If you answered “c” to question #1 that means that you have the most common issue, be sure to stop at booth #123 and try our wonderful product created just for that problem.

Use Survey Analytics to deliver the survey.  When they complete the survey, use the “Finish Options” to send them to a landing page that goes directly to a special page that you created for that show.

Another idea is to have them PRINT the landing page and bring it to your booth for a prize.

Use the same survey at the booth and profile people who stop in.  After they complete the survey, give them one of your promotional items.  Keep those promotional items hidden and only give them to people who complete your survey.

Use the survey to drive your selling process.  This is ideal for companies who have new or inexperienced people working the booth.  All they have to do is follow the survey and use the survey results as talking points to guide the customer to the call to action — either sale or sale appointment.

Follow up with survey results from the show.  Take the results from the survey and write them up into a report and then share that report with everyone who came to your booth.

Make sure to write that report in a way that takes that prospect or customer through the areas that are important and how your product or service solves the problems that people in the survey had.

Bet you’ve never looked at surveys as a lead generation tool?!  But they really are so effective, so subtle and focused purely on what the customer needs.  Not only that, but the very act of taking customers through surveys at a trade show gives you the opportunity to engage them and gather important data that you can use later.

Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMNarketers.com a resource for entrepreneurs who want do LESS marketing and make MORE money. In 2010 she ranked #21 out of 30,000 influential people on the Internet. She is the book editor for Small Business Trends, a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum and has appeared on MSNBC.

Posted in customer research, marketing strategy
4 comments on “How to Use Surveys to Generate Leads and Customers at Trade Shows
  1. Noelle says:

    Your blog is extremely thorough and I really enjoy that. I’m a small business owner and I’ve been looking into doing a customer service survey to get some much needed feedback. I especially liked the part about changing your image and setting a theme for the year. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Great information – I have seen companies produce amazing Trade Show exhibits, yet fail to follow through with potential leads. I recently came across an interesting infographic discussing how to improve ROI after the trade show – http://bit.ly/W1Rv82 – There is a lot of useful information here, and I want to pass it along to fellow business owners

  3. Vernon that’s an awesome infographic and we really appreciate you sharing your insight. I’ve organized, presented at, and staffed a fair number of tradeshow booths myself and you are absolutely right — most businesses don’t maximize their ROI. This is one of the biggest areas of neglect. Great infographic, thanks again for sharing!

  4. Noelle, thank you for your comments as well. Hopefully you have had buckets of success with your customer survey efforts — while this particular post was about conducting offline surveys, all of our survey accounts have great built-in tools to create, distribute and analyze your survey results. If you’re still following this post, we would love to hear how things are going!

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