Maritz Global Events Blog

Are Exhibitors Abandoning Trade Show Lead Retrieval?

When it comes to trade show lead retrieval, lots of exhibitors have decided to exercise an abundance of caution and not initiate a strategy. They're letting valuable sales leads fall through the cracks in the name of playing it safe legally.

For many trade show exhibitors, GDPR stands for "gosh-darned problematic regulation." Many don't understand its many facets, and are afraid of getting sued should their business practices not be up to par.

It throws a wrench in their trade show marketing routine.

"GDPR is definitely causing a change in procedure," said Siobhan Connellan, director exhibitor services operations at Maritz Global Events. "We used to see more liberal practices of connection. Now exhibitors are overwhelmed by the new legislation and are treating relationships with anonymity."

Event organizers have power during the registration process to acquire and store consent from every registrant.

This includes getting their permission to be scanned by a lead retrieval device.

“Once consent is given, you are free to move forward with your lead retrieval strategy,” Connellan said. “When a guest gives you permission to scan their badge, it is just like they handed you a business card.”

If you're not prioritizing lead retrieval due to concerns about GDPR, or if you're looking for a simple roadmap for expanding your lead retrieval efforts, keep reading.

We've got plenty of simple lead retrieval strategies and tips you can use to get inspired for your next event.

trade show lead retrieval

Trade Show Lead Retrieval as a Holistic Strategy

Let's remember why you are exhibiting in the first place: you want to make connections with real people, educate them on your industry-leading solutions, and foster long-lasting business relationships.

It requires sophisticated lead capture plans in place to accomplish this.

Lead retrieval consists of much more than onsite collection of contact info.

Ideally, it requires a multi-pronged campaign that starts before the event, and continues in the weeks following the trade show.

To achieve your goal of gaining new qualified leads, consider the following strategies:

1. Pre-Event Targeting

Your trade show lead retrieval campaign should begin weeks before the show to spread awareness and pique interest.

These days, exhibitors need to get creative to compete for attention. Campaign budgets may vary, but creativity doesn't cost anything.

A little messaging that departs from the status quo goes a long way when it comes to capturing someone's attention, AKA lead capture.

Case Study

The folks from Visit Omaha attracted hundreds of attendees to their booth with their "Omaha Bucks" promotion.

They sent a few "bucks" to a select group of ASAE attendees, which they could spend on products sold at the booth that one would find in Omaha's "Old Market" district, to great results. 

2. Onsite Leads

Engaging your booth visitors is a crucial next step.

It would be best if you delivered a mix of education, promotion, and fun, all tied into your initial campaign.

Of course, this is when the actual contact info exchanges hands, capturing leads, but notice how minor this step is relative to the rest of the process.

A holistic lead retrieval process attracts and delights attendees before the event — they will WANT to hear from you, both on site and after the event has ended.

Case Study

The odds were stacked against Zoetis Inc at a jam-packed cattle convention. But the lure of a cattle scale giveaway was too strong for even the most time-pressed attendees.

Impressively, Zoetis harnessed the contest framework to engage people. By making their way through three educational stations, participants would earn additional entries for the contest. 

3. Post-Event Follow-up

Staying top of mind is critical when the dust settles and a show comes to a close.

You need to have a method of knowing who your highly-qualified leads are and prioritize connecting with them.

It would help if you also extended your thanks to everyone who stopped by.

Case Study

Derse Inc. decided to give its exhibition campaign a travel theme. After the show, highly-qualified guests received an Adventure Fund jar (that is, a branded Mason jar) with a dollar bill inside to spur them to start saving for their future quests.

They also got travel-planning guides and scratch-off maps that enabled recipients to track their voyages around the world. All visitors got a thank-you email. 

Lead Retrieval for Exhibitors Happens Over Time

These three case studies show just how creative you can get when integrating a lead retrieval campaign.

If you need help reaching your visitor, lead capture, and sales goals, ask a Maritz Global Events team member how you can achieve success through each phase.

Rachel Stephan is one part creative, one part entrepreneur, a 4-time mom (sensov/ event marketing, Charlie, award-winning #eventtech snöball event influencer marketing, and Grayson) and an event industry speaker. Rachel helps meeting planners grow their event attendance with results-driven event marketing strategies.