Showing Up: Keys to Tradeshow Follow-up

ASI Orlando-crop

Tony Guerra (MRF National Sales Manager) at a recent tradeshow.

2014 is officially here and the tradeshow season is under way.  Our team here at Maple Ridge Farms always looks forward to the opportunities to get out amongst our distributors and fellow suppliers.  It’s a chance to put faces to the names and voices we work so closely with, get great feedback on our products and services, and spark new ideas.

No matter how much preparation one puts into getting ready for a tradeshow, it’s just as important (if not more so) to prepare and handle tradeshow follow-up promptly and appropriately.  We all know that tradeshows are investments of both our time and money, so it’s important to make the most out of each tradeshow venture.


Traci Show

Traci, showing off the Maple Ridge spirit at a recent tradeshow event.

There are a few simple tips that easily help to optimize the feedback and great new contacts you make along the way:

  •  Listen.  It seems like a no-brainer, however when you are at the show and in the midst of the hustle and bustle it can be easy to get distracted.  Make notes, if necessary, to coincide with contacts that require specialized follow-up.
  •  Categorize your leads!  Some contacts may simply want to be included in any upcoming news or specials, whereas others may want to discuss specific needs or projects.  It’s essential to prioritize your leads to avoid missing out on exciting opportunities.
  •  Make contact!  Things move fast in our industry.  It is the time of the season when many of us are attending multiple shows, both nationally and closer to home.  Waiting too long to reach out to promising contacts can lead to missed opportunities and disinterested colleagues.  Ensure that high-priority leads take precedence, and implement a multi-touch approach for reaching out.  Emails are a great way to communicate and allow the ability to visually share ideas, but don’t underestimate the personal validation a phone call or office visit can make.
  • Re-evaluate!  Once all of the dust settles, take a virtual inventory of what worked, what didn’t work, and any new ideas that may make your next tradeshow experience smoother.

We thought, that with a few shows under our belt for 2014, we would sit down with our team of “show-stoppers” and get their take on tradeshows:

Q: What is your favorite part of attending shows like PPAI/Las Vegas?

Joelle (Marketing Coordinator): The energy is crazy at the shows!  You have so many creative and energetic distributors and suppliers that have such great ideas!  It’s contagious!

Mary Kate (Social Media Coordinator): I love hearing distributors’ take on our programs and products.  They have a different way to look at what we do that can be enlightening.

Q:  Why is it important to participate in industry tradeshows?

Tony (National Sales Manager): You get to have an open dialog that ends up touching many subjects.  That doesn’t happen with email.

Q:  In your opinion, what is the most effective form of follow-up after a show?  What steps do you take after returning home, to follow-up with tradeshow leads?

Traci (Program Coordinator): Distributors talk to so many suppliers at a show.  It’s best to send an email (or call on high-priority leads) right after the show.  Then if there are specific items, projects, etc. that need attention, you can do so in a timely manner.  Stay in front of them!

Q:  Any other insight you would like to share?

Joelle (Marketing Coordinator): Remember that follow-up is not just a one-time thing.  Follow-up is a process.  Send an email a few days after the show.  Check them out on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. (I like to see what they are all about, their interests and such.  It helps to work closer with them on future projects.)  A month or so later, check in with them to see if they are in need of anything.  Mailings and phone calls are always good to throw into the mix as well!


Joelle and Tony meeting with new MRF multi-line rep, Nick Ryan.

So, like Teddy Roosevelt said, “Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em ‘Certainly I can!’  Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

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