The mobile tools currently available to the road warrior sales executive are ideally suited for the events industry.

Surprisingly, in the UK and US, the use of the barcode scanners has continued for decades, despite being largely based on the supermarket- style 1D. These barcodes capture data from visitors to a stand and send a simple spreadsheet of contacts after a post-show match-up. Sounds great, except it’s now illegal to capture data without individual consent.

GDPR fuels innovation

Although it hasn’t happened yet, GDPR will soon render these clunky old devices obsolete without an opt-in capability. To eliminate steep fines and potential shut down from non-compliance, these devices need to be put out to pasture, sooner rather than later.

I am constantly astounded by the number of people who come into our booth at a show and admit they are still using pen and paper for capturing leads. On the flip slide, I see advanced technologies such as digital displays through to AR and VR dramatically enhancing the trade show experience for attendees. The contrast between what the exhibitor experiences via technology vs. the visitor is startling.

Driving ROI

In today’s digital economy, tradeshows remain a viable marketing channel because they afford sales and marketing reps the unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with prospects and customers. Like the advanced technologies mentioned above, event participation comes with a price tag. Understandably, top management expects to see a ROI from these investments. Ensuring a positive ROI should be a top priority for event marketers and sales warriors who want to remain employed and advance their careers.

One of the smartest ways for exhibitors to measure and demonstrate ROI is to invest in a mobile lead capture system. For the sales executive, mobile lead capture is now the Swiss Army knife – a full digital platform with all of the tools required for use at shows and on the road. The power of these systems to facilitate the sales process are well documented – first, they are able to adapt to business cards in different languages. They also readily accommodate different types of 2D barcodes. And now that Apple has opened up access to its Apple Pay technology, these powerful mobile apps can scan the NFC cards at tech events.

Not long ago, beacon technology seemed to be developing interesting ways for tracking visitors at shows, but it has no really taken off. On the other hand, facial recognition is becoming more mainstream as the technology is being ironed out and fears around privacy are being laid to rest.

High speed capture

Some of our clients such as Tesla and the Boring Company produce events with thousands of attendees, and demand high-speed scanning. Because of the volume of attendees at these events, there are literally thousands of people to fast scan on a mobile device, which then has to recognise groups of invited guests and scan them in quickly to avoid queues building up.

Lead qualify, connectivity and personalisation

Lead qualification is key. Once someone has been scanned in at the reception desk of a booth, the exhibitor may want to have detailed screening questionnaires that are specific to these individuals at different workstations around the booth.

What about content? As we all know Internet Connectivity and Wi-Fi access can be patchy at shows, so mobile capture needs to be something that continues to run happily off-line. And that includes all of the content exhibitors have available in their library such as brochures, spec sheets and videos, which must be able to run without any delay of buffering issues.

Next up is the message centre. It always amazes me, after having attended a show, that it may take over a month for companies I visited to send me a generic email – sadly there is often zero attempt of personalisation to respond to my original enquiry that we discussed at the show. It is imperative that post event follow-up is personalised based on the conversation had with the prospect in the booth.

CRM/MA integration

Last but not least is the ability for exhibitor systems to integrate with a variety of marketing automation and CRM systems. Visitor conversation at the booth is the start of a journey, with just the right amount of relevant content delivered through a marketing automation system. The best conversation in the world can be completely lost without a system for world-class follow-up.

Exhibitors can bust their quotas in 2019 by committing to quick and personal contact with every prospective client. In so doing, they will differentiate themselves from their competitors, earning trust and credibility before eventually closing the sale.

As originally published in Exhibitor News, February 2019: