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Hello, class. Welcome back. It’s April – which is the month many organizations and individuals celebrate and observe Earth Day (April 22, 2013) with ambitious “Going Green” advancements. Exhibiting – at large – is becoming increasingly more environmentally conscious with sizeable and notable enterprise organizations and conglomerates taking the “lead” on proactive and aggressive paperless and sustainability initiatives.


The world of trade show lead capturing, which was traditionally and historically largely paper-heavy by definition — in its use of forms and business cards, and even boxes in which they were collected back in the day — has experienced a paradigm shift of sorts. It has, in a matter of speaking, gone not just “greener” but “smarter” as well with much of the exchange of information being done electronically through tablets, phone apps and other wireless or hi-tech devices.

Computerized lead retrieval products provide a reliable means for exhibitors to quickly and easily capture contact information electronically from booth visitors. In these technical times, attendee badges generally feature a small 2-dimensional (2D) barcode encoded with their contact information that can be scanned while storing the data electronically with wide search options available. Most of these lead devices offer exhibitors the ability to extensively qualify the show leads with electronic notes/data and follow-up action reminders and features. The majority of these systems can be integrated with exhibitors’ existing CRM systems.

Most show producers offer electronic lead retrieval rentals as part of their “show services” offerings. Generally, hardware can be rented and leasable software can be installed on your device, storing information via cloud so that you always have secure backup. These systems – whether rented or owned – typically cross reference trade show badge scans to your customer list to avoid duplicates when importing to CRM systems. Right away these systems will identify and differentiate prospects from existing customers. Most services are very flexible and customizable to your liking and for your company’s needs. For additional costs, onsite techs are usually available.

Here are some features to look for when choosing a lead retrieval platform as reported by exhibiting and event measurement expert Roger Lewis of Alliance Tech:

  • Lead collection across multiple platforms (devices): The best-in-class lead retrieval solutions will work on and with multiple devices and operating systems including tablets (iPad, Android), notebook computers (Microsoft Windows,Apple OS) and handheld scanning devices.
  • Customizable surveys with branching logic: Modern lead retrieval surveys can be tailored to the specific needs of the company. The most sophisticated systems not only guide users through a series of questions, they also employ branching logic so that the questions in the series change based on the users’ previous answers. They are also designed to accommodate the most widely used response types: text, single select, multiple select and lookups.
  • Cloud data storage: The days of storing contacts and data on the collection device are becoming obsolete. Today’s systems can upload data immediately or on demand to a remote server multiplying the number of ways the data can be displayed and analyzed.
  • Functionality with or without Internet Wi-Fi access: Internet access in convention centers can be expensive and intermittent for exhibitors. Many new lead retrieval solutions can function with or without Internet access; however, the most advanced systems will auto-update as soon as a hotspot is detected, removing the need for an additional step to activate the data download or upload.
  • Support 1D, 2D, magstripe, QR code and RFID badges: The time expended in getting badge data into the lead retrieval device has been reduced to seconds. Although some solutions require exhibitor staff to hand-key the attendee data into the device, others use a handheld scanner connected to the device to scan 1D, 2D, or QR Codes or rely on RFID readers. Credit card-type swiping scanners are used for magstripe badges. In the newest configurations, the scanner and device communicate wirelessly without an Internet or hardwired connection.
  • Use on personal devices: The need to rent devices on which to deploy lead retrieval systems is optional. With several companies offering lead retrieval iPad platforms, the apps are free and can be downloaded on any compatible device whether it is rented or owned by the individual or company.
  • Data visualization tools: Data collection functionality is only one part of the lead retrieval solutions offered currently. The ability to import the information into multiple reports automatically in order to perform detailed analyses of buyer prospects and the quality of the reports (an Excel spreadsheet vs. an analytics dashboard) are key differentiators among solutions.
  • Lead scoring: Some systems take users beyond the collection of data and into the qualification of leads. Lead scoring tools available through lead retrieval applications help companies identify prospects who are ready to buy.

The advantages of pursuing an enterprise lead retrieval system are obvious: One solution can be utilized across multiple events, and exhibitors have complete control over their own data. Today, the options and opportunities for exhibitors are virtually unlimited.

HOMEWORK

  • Lead the charge in getting your company to “Go Green” & “Smart” with paperless initiatives including electronic lead retrieval.
  • Have sales and marketing reps work together to identify the most critical “lead” data and systems to utilize at shows; leads that will “convert” into sales.
  • Communicate with fellow professionals in your industry and conduct online research to find the electronic lead retrieval system that is most effective and economical to suit your company’s needs.

About Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher

Linda Musgrove is founder and president of TradeShow Teacher, an award-winning trade show management and marketing firm. Linda, along with her team of specialists, focuses on assisting companies increase trade show ROI through a comprehensive results driven formula. Author of “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows,” published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing, Linda is also a regular, expert contributor to several industry publications and sites. Learn more at http://www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the FREE monthly TradeShow Tactics newsletter. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsteacher or email to info@tradeshowteacher.com.

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