I’m going to keep it nice and tight today as I am still in recovery mode from my 46km marathon row up the Hunter River last weekend.  Any by recovery I do not mean massages, steam rooms and green juices.  No, my go-tos are chocolate brownies, alcohol and weighted lunges. But more on all that later.

On the start line for Head of he Hunter

On the start line for Head of he Hunter

So here it is.  Do you want to know why, after spending months preparing for your trade show, smacked down some coin on a good-looking stand, organised a roster so your best and brightest were there to help visitors and hell, you even had a (insert sharp intake of breath) a TOUCH SCREEN on the stand that your results, ROI or however you measure your trade show success is in the toilet?

Listen up: It is because you failed to follow-up leads and enquiries your acquired on the stand.

I have a perfect example. I attended Designex in Melbourne in late May I was disappointed in the quality of stand exhibits.  Designex used to be a high point in stand design with all sorts of funky and interesting stuff being done.  No more. It was a sea of ordinary.  So yeah, I can overlook ordinary if exhibiting firms want to show me so cool and interesting stuff. But my fellow design maven Shirley and I were shocked at how many exhibitors – and this was even within the first few hours of opening morning – were focussed on tapping out stuff on their iPads, laptops, smart phones and not engaging in the face to face marketing that exhibitions are perfect for.  Both Shirley and I both browsed on exhibitor stands, clearly interested in the products but even then we were ignored, the lure of the digital screen proving more important that two red-hot leads strolling about your stand.  Even when I finally made contact with an exhibitor and handed over my details (I gave out 12 business cards in all) to have follow-up information sent through, only one out the twelve got in contact.  Props to Forbo Flooring for following through but Dulux…James Richardson Furniture…hello?  Nah.  Not freakin’ good enough by a long shot.

You could argue that perhaps they lost my card – and if that is the case, then a new type of lead capture device is sorely needed.  You might surmise that they will still get around to getting in contact but seriously….2 months has passed and even a digital thank you note can be sent off before I have even stepped foot off the stand if the company cares enough.  And that’s the rub. Many exhibitors don’t care about the results or their customer and therefore don’t put in place the systems and procedures to gather leads on the trade show floor and then follow-up effectively.

You know, all this lack of lead follow-up is a good thing if you are an exhibitor.  This is a perfect opportunity to grab new customers and market share when so many of your competitors have a lazy approach to lead capture and follow-up.  Imagine what a superstar you would be if you actually do what you said you were going to do by getting in touch.  And sooner.  Like now.

Now I would normally share some photos of Designex at this point but they had a strict “no photography” policy plastered everywhere which blows my mind and not in a good way.  With so many ways to share information over the internet and amongst your tribe, I don’t know what muppet within the Designex organising team thought it was a good idea to ban links and buzz building through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc etc. But whoever the sock puppets were, get a grip and get with the times.  And also give your exhibitors some much-needed tips in effective trade show strategies.

So instead of Designex, I am going to share a photo of my Dad and I at the end of the 46km marathon and yes, this is him holding me up. As much I as I am awe of what my lady crew and I did by actually completing the race, I marvel at my dad for his involvement.  He was up at his Central Coast home at just after 4am on a SUNDAY, zoomed up the highway to Newcastle with a boot full of muffins, water and bandages and stood around keeping the mood up  with witty quips while we waited clad only in LYCRA in icy conditions for the fog to lift. Once we set off, he stalked us up the river stopping at five different locations to yell at us like those slightly unhinged types do in shopping centre carparks, phoned back GPS coordinates so my Mum and sister who were  manning ground control at home and could follow our progress up the Hunter.  And then finally, FINALLY when we reached the finish line, he fished me out of the boat and gave me one of the best hugs ever.  I hear a lot about women being in supporting roles to men doing stuff.  But our lady crew totally subverted that.  On our success team, we had Koach Kim, Nathan the demonic personal trainer, our coxswain Roberto the Unbelievable, General Len (what does Len do?  Generally pretty much anything and everything including rowing and towing) and my Dad. So this is big love to all the wonderful men who made our row that much easier and sweeter.  Go hug a man today!  (The fine print: Obviously not one of those recommended for sentencing in the NSW ICAC corruption enquiry, those dudes are NQR.)

I love my dad, he is holding me up!

I love my dad, he is holding me up!

Tune wise, I want to share one of my fav songs we had playing in the boat during the row.  It came on in the final 8 kms when fatigue is biting and the distance drags.  Madonna, her hot pants spurred and my crazy Dad by the side of the river waving his jumper helicopter style above his head spurred me on.

See you next week!