Trade Shows?

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Jan 10, 2009 12:44 pm

For the past year or so I've exclusively cold called, everyday.  In an effort to switch things up a bit, I've decided to run a booth at a Home and Garden Show.  Pretty big show, last year there were 25,000 attendees....only one other brokerage firm at the event.


Anybody have any best practices to share to maximize lead generation?
Jan 10, 2009 1:16 pm

Don't stand behind the table and wait to be approached.  Stand in front of it and try to say something to everyone that walks by.  Preferably an open ended question such as "how's your IRA?" 

 
A lot attendees are there to pick up free giveaways (trinkets) but that can get expensive and I'm not sure how effective it is.  You could, however do a raffle (It may have to be valued under $100) and that way you collect names and numbers.
 
Good luck.
Jan 10, 2009 3:35 pm

Get a pop-up, table-top sized flip chart with the big paper like you'd use in a big presentation room, find a sexy bond/utility pfd. or some other higher yielding issue (6% or better works best) you've got on your screen or in your inventory, and write something along the lines of "Our IRAs are paying 6.25% (or whatever the yield is on what you've chosen).  Ask me for details."  Use the biggest, fattest Sharpie you can find to write that.

 
Done this for years at mall shows and home shows, and it never fails to anchor people in their tracks as they are walking past the booth.  It starts conversations.  The rest will be up to you.
Jan 10, 2009 3:37 pm

Why are you changing things, is the calling no longer working, or were you looking for something else...

 
I have heard tradeshows tend to be a waste of time. but IMA is right, you have to be out in front of the booth.. I think the raffle for a gift card($250) would be worth it and have them fill out a questionairr, name, number, biggest retirement concern...
Jan 10, 2009 4:51 pm

It can be effective if you are "small game" hunting.  You can get lucky, but I have tried them, and have found better ways to spend that much money.

Jan 10, 2009 6:23 pm

Cold calling is working, it's only a 3 day trade show, most of that will be on Sat & Sun...just seeing if I could raise a few more leads doing something different.

Jan 11, 2009 3:54 pm

I have been doing these for a couple of years and they work great..

 
Last one was in april--walked out w/ 100 leads, generated 10 new accts, largest was 2.2mill.
 
I do not use a "raffle" or give-away.  There are people that have pre-printed address cards that sign up for EVERYTHING--plate lickers. Dont need 'em.
 
Get some trinkets--pens etc.-- from a wholesaler, put them out on a table, and give them out sparingly...hide them under the table.
 
Print up 4x8 cards (i copied an AGE seminar postcard invite) and use them to gather names and addresses.  I figured out that I can talk to anyone, but only certain one's are ALLOWED to sign up( or I'll make comments on the card after they walk off)...
 
These things are like anything else--its what you make of it.  Some folks HATE them and they'll never work.  I love them.....its just like doing seminars.
Jan 12, 2009 4:22 pm

When you talk to someone, never have the brochure they need right there!  It is alway at the office.  You say something like " I've got a great booklet on (whatever topic came up)...
but I just gave out the last one.  I'll send it to you tonight."
 
That way you get a solid lead & address rather than getting a hundred cards filled out for a drawing for a toaster!
Jan 12, 2009 10:58 pm

Great feedback guys.  I'm excited about the show, if I brought in $2mm, I'd be thrilled.  Should be able to shake a ton of hands, so no raffle....


I was thinking about having a rate sheet made up with a few CD's, corps, muni's, fixed/VA's....telling the prospect I mail one out every month, and would like to add them to my mailing list...and get their address that way.
Jan 13, 2009 8:15 am
Baba Booey:

Great feedback guys.  I'm excited about the show, if I brought in $2mm, I'd be thrilled.  Should be able to shake a ton of hands, so no raffle....

I was thinking about having a rate sheet made up with a few CD's, corps, muni's, fixed/VA's....telling the prospect I mail one out every month, and would like to add them to my mailing list...and get their address that way.



The rate sheet idea should be good for at least $6mm.

Jan 13, 2009 9:47 am

Thanks Hank.

Jan 14, 2009 7:34 pm

Definitely a raffle. Make sure you get them to give phone numbers. You can have multiple winners, Ameriprise does this with their "lunch for 10" business card drop.

 
Also find out vendors is going to be around you and look them up on the internet.
Give them a call and introduce your self before the show ask them about their give aways / booth etc.
 
 
Jan 15, 2009 3:28 pm

I did a few but I have a side business of tax planning and divorce financial analysis and those were secondary on the booth and brought in ACTUALLY more business.  Things I learned or was told:

Don't stand in front of the booth.  Stand behind it and people will come up and then you can talk with them and move out front.  If you stand in front, most people will actually walk to the other side of the isle to avoid you and miss everything you are about.  I was standing out front for about 1/2 of the first day I did a show and 4 different show veterans came up and corrected me before I finally changed.  There was a different attitude immediately.

I give away a free portfolio analysis.  Every person that enters the drawing basically win.  I talk with them before entering and suggest it to those that are best qualified and if someone seems very juicy, I write it down that I need to make sure they are followed up with closely.

If the show has a fee to enter but a free night (lot of times Thursday night will be free to open the show), you'll probably find this completely worthless for your time.  All the old people will show up to gather the freebies.  I think the free night actually helps make the other days better.

These shows are exhausting - bring help.  The concrete floor and the 12 hour days will wear you down physically. 

An expensive booth display will not increase your production.  The key is to interact and draw people into your booth.  There is a lot of competition for eye time.

For me personally, most of your customers will actually come from the people working the show.  I have gotten a TON of IRA rollover business from people who've been laid off and took up a silly yjob somewhere and they were given the job of working the show.  Lot of people working those pyramid schemes actually just got laid off by major employers.  It's beneficial to hear them out.

Jan 15, 2009 3:52 pm
Beagle:

I did a few but I have a side business of tax planning and divorce financial analysis and those were secondary on the booth and brought in ACTUALLY more business.  Things I learned or was told:

Don't stand in front of the booth.  Stand behind it and people will come up and then you can talk with them and move out front.  If you stand in front, most people will actually walk to the other side of the isle to avoid you and miss everything you are about.  I was standing out front for about 1/2 of the first day I did a show and 4 different show veterans came up and corrected me before I finally changed.  There was a different attitude immediately.

I give away a free portfolio analysis.  Every person that enters the drawing basically win.  I talk with them before entering and suggest it to those that are best qualified and if someone seems very juicy, I write it down that I need to make sure they are followed up with closely.

If the show has a fee to enter but a free night (lot of times Thursday night will be free to open the show), you'll probably find this completely worthless for your time.  All the old people will show up to gather the freebies.  I think the free night actually helps make the other days better.

These shows are exhausting - bring help.  The concrete floor and the 12 hour days will wear you down physically. 

An expensive booth display will not increase your production.  The key is to interact and draw people into your booth.  There is a lot of competition for eye time.

For me personally, most of your customers will actually come from the people working the show.  I have gotten a TON of IRA rollover business from people who've been laid off and took up a silly yjob somewhere and they were given the job of working the show.  Lot of people working those pyramid schemes actually just got laid off by major employers.  It's beneficial to hear them out.

 
Do you tell them that you can help them figure out their standard deviation, beta, R squared, alpha, gamma x-ray, where they are on the efficient frontier, etc...in their free portfolio analysis?
Jan 15, 2009 4:07 pm

I have done a few in the past, without much success.  Too many plate-lickers and people that want to talk your ear off (not that you CAN'T have success, maybe it was just me, or the area I am in does not attract people with money to the event).

 
Here's my idea for the coming year - I am going to actually put on my suit and nametag, and go to the show as an attendee.  I will walk around and present myself to the other exhibitors as a fellow exhibitor (I did this a little last year, but didn't have enough time to get around to people, since I wanted to be at my booth).  This way, you don't have to spend 12 hours there, you maybe spend 3 hours getting around to everyone.  Although you may have to go on multiple days, as the decision makers may not be there each day.  You also don't have to pay the exhibitor fee, and you don't have to pay for all the free giveaway crap.  I am going to try it and see what happens.
Mar 24, 2009 8:14 am

I'm doing a one day consumer expo in two weeks.  It's inexpensive so I don't lose more than $350 and a days time if i go busto in leads.  I'm printing off 5x8 postcards to gather names and if they're interested in certain products they can check off those areas too and looking to raffle something off in order to grab names.  (I know I'll get alot of bullsh*t leads but i plan on making notes when i can after they walk away so I can filter out the bad ones afterwards) 

Anyone have any good ideas of what to raffle off?  Some thoughts I had were $50 funded into a 529 plan, a money tree, or just un-market related things like Restaurant gift certs.

Thanks. 

Mar 24, 2009 10:01 am

Why not raffle off a cordless power-tool kit? You could pick one up for $80-90 bucks at Lowes/HD.

It fits in with the theme of the home show and gives you "home-improvement" cred.

Mar 24, 2009 11:50 am

ColoradoRep beat me to it.  Jones gets a booth at almost every convention that comes into town.  They have one guy who's responsible for coordinating it.  First one I did was an art fair.  The raffle was for a $25 Starbucks card.  It was funny to see people walking down the street looking at the vendors.  You could almost hear it in their head...pastels...water colors...modern art stuff (how stupid is that)...Edward Jones...what?  What are they doing there.  $25 Starbucks card?  Really?  I just paid $10,000 for a crushed beer can on a toilet seat to go on the wall in the study.  I'm not even going to cross the street for a $25 Starbucks card. 

 
So, if you're going to do a booth and do a give away, I agree with Colorado.  Make it event appropriate. 
 
Mar 24, 2009 11:55 pm

I brought in one client from the trade show I did last month...we did ACAT's for $550k so far, and another $1.3mm in CD's will come due between now and October.  When it's all said and done we'll have $800k in fee business (growth component) and $1mm in fixed income. 

 
You never know who will walk up to your booth.
Mar 25, 2009 7:39 am

Colorado & Spiff-  the show isn't specific to anything.  It's just a consumer expo for residents to check out businesses.  There will be every and any business there.  But I would like to maybe raffle something that attracts older people rather than younger.  I don't think the 70 year old farmer will get exited about a Starbucks girft card.  The power tool set may work atleast to get more males to sign up.  Anything else??

Baba-- can you elaborate on what all you did at your booth.  Giveaways, raffles, what literature did you have available?   Sounds like you had major success.  

Also, if you do a "raffle" with one or multiple winners; do you do those drawing at the show or on your own time?  I mean someone there are the opening may not be there an hour later.