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By Rama Beerfas


January 1, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – We’ve identified the three components of a successful trade show marketing plan:


• Have a system in place for attracting potential customers to the exhibit.
• Qualify those people who visited the booth.
• Follow up with those visitors who left contact information.

Last month, we explored ways to attract the people you want to see to your exhibit. Now we’ll look at how to qualify those people who make their way to your booth to determine their viability as prospects for you.

It’s important to remember that not everyone who attends a trade show is a qualified prospect for you. Attendees could be unqualified for any number of reasons: 1) They don’t have the budget for your product/service. 2) They simply don’t have need of what you are offering. 3) They are competitors who want to make connections but didn’t want to spend money on a booth of their own. 4) They are not the decision makers in the company. 5) They are the spouse of someone there on business and are just tagging along for the fun of it. The list goes on from there.

If your goal in exhibiting is to connect with qualified prospects, then you must have a system in place for screening people who stop at your booth. A quick glance at the job title on their nametag is not enough to qualify someone, as not all job titles are endowed with equal decision-making power. (e.g. My husband’s job title on trade show nametags is VP of IT. That means he fixes my computer when it has issues and contributes his professional expertise to what computer I should purchase when the need arises. I make the decision on which software to purchase for my company since he has a full-time job elsewhere and really is not involved with day-to-day running of the business.)

There are two ways to qualify a prospect:

• a 30-second to 2-minute conversation where you ask the right questions.
• a short form (postcard size is fine) that asks one to three pertinent questions along with a request for contact information.

Ideally, you want to have both because the written form will give you information to take back and act on without having to depend on someone’s memory.

Although the larger trade shows offer badge scanning services to capture booth visitor information, it is not always enough to allow for proper follow-up or to disqualify prospects.

Rama Beerfas is Chief Solutions Specialist for San Diego-based Lev Promotions, offering marketing consulting, promotional products, and business gifts. Lev Promotions also assists clients with tradeshow displays, pre-show planning, booth staff training and post-show follow-up. Rama also offers seminars and training in marketing and customer service related topics. She can be reached at (619) 697-2045 or at or visit Column requests and comments are welcome.

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