At nearly every industry trade show and conference, vendor booths offer drawings for cool prizes. Visitors just drop a card in the bowl to have a shot at winning an iPad or some other cool prize. Marketers use trade show giveaways to collect “leads”, which help justify the cost of the event.
But Wait a Minute
Let’s think about this. Are these people really leads? Definitely…if you’re selling iPads or cool gadgets. But generally, the contest offer has absolutely nothing to do with the company’s offerings.
Are They Really Qualified?
Remember, the goal is to attract qualified leads – not random names. You’re looking for people who have a business need and an interest in your offering. But most of the drawing entries are from vendors, consultants, job hunters, conference staff, etc.
People who are really qualified will talk with your booth staff, show an interest, and provide their contact information for follow-up without any need for the “bait” of a trade show giveaway. At most booths, when a qualified lead shows up, Sales solicits two cards – one for themselves and one for the drawing. But they’d have gotten that card regardless of whether you were offering a drawing.
Choosing the “Winner”
After the show, Marketing and Sales “choose” the winning card from those contacts representing the most potential for future revenue. Then a sales person gets to deliver the gift to their “lucky” lead as a nice way to nurture the relationship.
I’m all for nurturing relationships, but has this really accomplished anything? Or did it serve as a distraction? In most cases, the visitor has very little time for a discussion at the booth. So your team is wasting valuable time and mental energy getting them to enter the drawing rather than asking questions and explaining the value proposition offered by your company.
There is a Better Way
Instead of giving away free things that have nothing to do with your products and services, consider giving away something that will be meaningful to a visitor with a business problem your company can address. Align the give-away with your content marketing strategy. Here are some suggestions for useful offers:
- Free educational white paper or research report.
- Free consultation to evaluate their current situation and provide recommendations. (Really, this just formalizes the needs analysis process that is vital to effective sales.)
- Free hour with your engineering team to discuss ideas around solving some sort of common technical problem.
- Free trial of your product. (Offer this ONLY if your product’s use case is self-explanatory and the product requires no implementation time.)
With one of these offers, you can collect cards from interested people and KNOW that they’re qualified leads unless they’re a competitor or consultant. It also gives you a much better lead-in for Sales to use when following up.
Join the Conversation
So enough of my opinions. Do you agree or disagree? What trade show offers are you finding the most effective in generating qualified leads?