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Best Tips for Managing Tradeshow CRM

Tyra Douyon - February 19, 2024

Tradeshow CRM Event Management ©Adriano Castelli

Walking through any industry tradeshow guarantees an exclusive peek into the extravagant world of event marketing. From business people in suits swirling cotton candy cones for eager participants to executives enticing a crowd of curious onlookers with money-filled lucky lottery machines, everyone is clamoring for an audience to network with, sell products to, and exchange knowledge. With so many attention-grabbing gimmicks in place, generating leads should be easy, right? On the contrary, having a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system is the only way to ensure your attendance at a tradeshow is worth it.

In 2024, these large-scale exhibition events are still popular for businesses to showcase their products and services and connect with other industry professionals. Fifty-six percent of 2023 trade show exhibitors were confident they could achieve better results by attending a tradeshow versus opting out, making these shows a valuable part of many companies’ marketing strategies.

Rearview Advertising Tradeshow Display

How should you set your goals and key performance indicators before a trade show?

Before attending a trade show, figure out your company’s goals. Is increasing awareness about your brand a top priority? Or is generating as many leads as possible and closing sales more important? Maybe the main objective is adding contact information to your phone and building relationships with your fellow professionals. Whatever you have in mind, write it down and get organized.

Afterward, think about your key performance indicators and what it means to complete each goal. For example, you might want to get a certain number of email addresses subscribed to your company’s newsletter or make at least three connections with top-rated vendors. Figure out what you must do at the tradeshow to achieve the goals you set and make it happen!


What is the best way to manage information collected at a trade show?

Picture this: you’re wrapping up an exciting first day at one of the most popular tradeshows in the country. With 3,000+ confirmed attendees, you know you’ve spoken with a few hundred people and made meaningful connections with at least 35 individuals. You pull out a handful of stuck together Post-It® Notes from your briefcase. As you riffle through the scribbled names and try to decipher if that 2 is really a 7, you realize you forgot which Bill had a tropical fish tank and which Anna offered to create a radio jingle for your company at a discounted price.

This situation may be fictitious, but it’s a reality for many professionals who attend tradeshows without a dedicated CRM in place. A CRM easily pays for itself (and many are free) by tracking the number of visitors, contacts, leads, conversions, sales, feedback, or referrals you receive. A defined strategy and criteria will help you focus your efforts and better evaluate your performance. To ensure you’re making the most out of your tradeshow experience, follow these best tips for managing tradeshow CRM:

Follow up promptly and personally

Adding a lead to your email newsletter is the most recommended method for staying in contact after a tradeshow. Considering almost half of all exhibitors follow up their leads, with as many as 80% using emails to contact them, this is the ideal follow-up method. To set your business apart, send a more personalized email to ensure the lead opens it and remembers your business. It is also helpful to designate a lead captain(s). Doing so puts the responsibility on an individual or a team of people and assigns accountability for the successes and the bottlenecks. This will also help with planning for the future and analyzing your approach. For example, if there are too many dead leads, your qualification process may need to be updated.

Analyze and optimize data from the CRM

Along with organizing the contacts you receive in a CRM, it’s crucial to analyze the information you collect from your trade show interactions. The CRM system will enter the contact details of your leads, helping you to segment them based on their interests, needs, and wants. Then, assign them to different follow-up actions like a phone call or an in-person meeting.

Continue to nurture new connections

13,000 trade shows occur annually in the United States, with approximately 11.5 million attendees. Those numbers might look great, but that means thousands of companies are competing for the same attendee’s attention. Don’t just send one follow-up email from the show or a thank you note that gives no helpful information. Keep in touch without spamming the lead with messages that prompt them to connect in different ways. An email newsletter might not be their preferred method of contact, but a social media follow could be a great way for someone to stay interested in your products and services. Be creative and proactive with the ways you nurture new connections this year. Above all, be useful to your contacts and provide them with information they can take action on, interact with, or even forward to their own business networks. A CRM makes this so much easier with real metrics you can use to determine engagement, fatigue, or gaining interest in the information and opportunities you provide.


Have a Productive and Profitable Tradeshow Season!

Managing tradeshow CRM can be seamless and rewarding this year. If you use these helpful tips to get organized before attending the event, you’re more likely to reap the benefits of your efforts. At Rearview Advertising, we know it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, and your display needs to be noticeable. We work with you to create a custom tradeshow display, including tradeshow tables, booths, and banner designs that portray your unique brand while reeling in new customers. Contact us for more information on how we can help your business stand out!

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