In this article I’ll cover how to process trade show business cards in order to maximise trade show ROI
I spent most of last week talking to people at the oil and gas exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. Turnout was a little down compared to previous editions but I still ended up with four hundred business cards at the end of the show.
One of my favourites thoughts is the 1% rule. If you do everything 1% better you see dramatic changes in your business. It’s easy to go through business cards and make a quick judgement call on which will be valuable. It’s easy to throw lots away as they don’t fit some criteria.
Like anyone I’m fallible and I make mistakes – especially after standing up all day talking to customers. A far better way is to use behavioural filtering. You let customers, or potential customers, or even non-customers exclude themselves.
This isn’t the easy way though. It means that you have to get the business cards into the machine and then giving them stimuli to generate a response that allows you to score their behaviour.It doesn’t really matter what the machine is – salesforce, infusionsoft or your excel list of leads. They need to go in and be chewed over by your marketing processed and then like the sorting hat in Harry Potter be classified into Hot, Warm, Cold and No Value by their activity.
That part is all fairly straight forward with drip marketing campaigns and and measuring opens, clicks, views and dwell time. Whats not so easy is getting the business cards onboard.
Problems Processing Business Cards from Trade Shows
I’ve looked at a number of approaches over the years and these are the main issues that you face
- Some are existing customers. Some are not. They need to be treated differently.
- Some have specific actions that have to be undertaken as a result of the conversation at the booth.
- Processing software is accurate up to a limit
- Doing it yourself wastes lots of time and comes with a huge opportunity cost.
- Outsourcing again requires checking
- Business cards display the same information in so many ways that its very difficult to be efficient
- Asian, or international, names and addresses can flummox many processors
- Senior staff can gather lots of insight about business development opportunities from the cards.
With that in mind and with dozens of exhibitions under my belt this is an efficient way to get a fast timely and relevant response out to trade shows visitors
Split the pack to Maximise Trade Show ROI
All leads aren’t created equal and they don’t need to be treated equally.
First grab all the ones from your existing customers. If the contact exists already in Salesforce you can make your updates super quick.
If the Account exists but the contact doesn’t the fastest thing is usually to clone the contact. Then you make the amendments required.
These you do yourself. You can get a lot of value from this, and these are typically the cards that will have some action associated with them.
The next tranche are the likley prospects. Here it depends on numbers. If you don’t have too many the fastest thing to do is to switch off validation rules and chuck them onto Salesforce with a simple account name, contact name and email address – and whatever field you use to trigger the exhibition drip marketing campaign.
Then use the Salesforce dataloader to export all these and hand that output over to your data processor to complete the fields and reupload. You’ve responded quickly, you’re engaging and yet you’ve spent as little of your precious time getting in touch – and they are in Salesforce. So they exist 🙂
The remaining two groups are the real trash and the marginals. Marginals get sent straight to the data processor and minimal data capture is undertaken. The ROI is small for each individual but in my experience as much as 50% of the ROI from the whole exhibition comes from these. It’s just too difficult to identify the gold from the dross at this stage. So you put it in cheaply and then as they show positive signs you reinforce success and upgrade their priority.
Data Processing of Business Cards
When I talk about a data processor I usually use an outsourcer. I find it’s best to maintain someone in the $3-5/hour range on Elance or Freelancer for this type of work. You need to give careful instructions and do some data quality management when you get it back – but it is the most efficient way of getting it done – and you can make sure that it complies with your validation rules before being uploaded. Automated systems normally take longer to do for the relatively small volumes that you get from trade shows. If you want to know more about doing this send me an email. This simple process helps to maximise trade show ROI by keeping costs and time low
This leaves the trash. Even here there can be gold. We capture first name and email and blast them with a simple question
“Do you you know anyone who buys our product and service? We’ll give you X if we make a sale”
Again you get a bit more gold and depending on the typical LTV of your customers this can be hugely successful
To make the most of attending an exhibition or tradeshow you need to reduce the cost of processing the business cards and maximise the chance of converting a lead.
Segmenting cards and processing them differently based on value and then responding to positive behavioural cues boosts your trade show ROI