Don Marti

Thu 03 Sep 2009 05:54:31 AM PDT

A trade show story

I was walking down the aisle at a crowded trade show, and a booth staffer came up to me and said, "Can I scan your badge?"

"For what?" I asked. This is when I expected a short explanation of what the booth was all about. Some kind of product or service. Erlang application hosting? Massively parallel enterprise chicken-plucking?

Instead, the answer was something like, "For this toy."

So now my son has a toy with a company logo on it, I have no idea what the company was there to sell, and the company has a really, really bad lead in their CRM system. And they're probably going to do some weak outsourced direct marketing to all those leads from the show, or else call a few and then let the rest fall behind the file cabinet. And then Management is going to decide to do fewer or no trade shows next year because they get crappy leads.

This kind of bugs me, because I really like trade shows. They work if you do them right. I know about signaling behavior and the message that you can send just by spending money, but you have to balance your "we're successful enough to do this fancy booth" signal with some method of filtering out the right attendees to get in touch with later. No show's audience is specific enough that anyone in it is a good lead for any exhibitor.

Blame the Marketing people
I was at the other end of that one in my last job. A colleague nailed every person who walked by our booth and got a scan of their badge. He was rewarded for gathering more leads than any other exhibitor. Me, I was the one who gave demos to the few customers interested in whatever it was we did. Of course, I wanted to know how many of those leads turned into real sales opportunities. As far as I could find out, none did. But that's what happens when people are evaluated on an irrelevant metric.
Comment by Anonymous Thu 03 Sep 2009 08:47:53 AM PDT