Manning the stand

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To Zap or not to Zap

Posted on October 23, 2015

What’s the best way to record your stand visitor’s details? Well perhaps the first thing to think about is what you’re trying to achieve from the exhibition.

If you're trying to build a database with as many industry contacts as possible then hiring a badge zapper where you can walk away with an electronic file filled with your visitors contact information makes that task relatively easy. This assumes of course that the details the visitor has filled in when they registered are accurate (which is not always the case). You also have to consider how discriminating you will be with your zapping, are you going to zap anyone you can or will there be some sort of qualification process so you don't end up with a database of full of contacts who will never be interested in your wares, whatever you decide everyone on the stand needs to know what they're meant to be doing.

A zapper approach is not going to allow you to record specific information to follow up on. So in the absence of a clearly defined process staff will pragmatically fall back on making notes on the back of a business card. However, possible problems include, not having enough room to record relevant information, illegibility of something hastily written on a 3 cm by 5 cm card in a busy exhibition environment and the potential for those precious leads on small pieces of paper to go astray. Also, it doesn't look good to prospects. In addition, it makes it difficult to collect accurate data about the results of the exhibition e.g. how many leads, appointments etc.

Organisations with a professional approach to exhibiting will use a form of some kind. More often than not this is a paper form although electronic versions on an ipad or android tablet are becoming more widespread. In either case, ease of use is the key issue. In a busy exhibition environment staff need to be able to record information quickly and accurately, so it makes sense for the form to have as many preset options as possible e.g. type of visitor, urgency, next action etc. that they can just tick or put a ring around in those few seconds before they have their next conversation. I’ve also seen companies issue their staff with mini staplers so they can attach a business card to the form, so they don’t need to record contact details and everything is kept together. However, there needs to be a balance between making a form easy to use and making sure you capture that key information that can make all the difference when it comes to the follow up, so it's good practice to have a space to write some notes about the visitor and this tends to be the most important information because it allows the person doing the follow up (particularly if they are not the one who took the details) to personalise the interaction, it also shows that you listened and are responding to their specific issues rather than a generic approach.

Whatever method you use it’s important that staff share a common understanding e.g. what is our qualification process? what information should we be recording? what do we mean by a ‘hot’ lead? So I guess that takes us back to where we started from which is the importance of defining what you want from the exhibition.

Here’s an example of my take on a form based approach, even if it’s not for you it might give you some ideas - exhibition contact pad