Trade shows and black holes

Signs at one of the nation’s top trade show locations, the Las Vegas, are pointing up. Convention attendance rose 3.1% in May, marking the third consecutive month of increased traffic. In April, IPC’s APEX EXPO was a noticeable part of those increases, showing solid 10 percent growth over last year.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research anticipates slow growth throughout 2010. However, even when attendance is down, leads generated at shows can lead to significant business opportunities. If they’re followed up.

The Institute for Study of Business Markets researched the life cycle of a sales lead after it’s generated by a marketing department. Many of them come from trade shows. According to their findings, nearly 70% of leads fall into the “black hole” where they’re simply not pursued by the sales force at all.

That’s a stunning figure. Many sales leads probably aren’t worth much investment in time. But if three out of four go into a black hole, gathering them isn’t worth much investment either. Trade shows are a great way to reach new people, but reaching out to the right ones afterwards should be as much a part of planning as creating a booth or figuring out who goes to the show.


  1. Posted July 30, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it amazing? Companies invest stupendous amounts at trade shows–in fancy booths, gorgeous collateral material, T&E and even in collecting data from potential customers. Then they don’t follow up on the information they have in their hands!

    A critical part of any trade show planning is an action plan for lead follow-up and lead nurturing. The trade show doesn’t end on the plane ride home. Really, the work is just beginning.

  2. Kim Sterling
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Merry. As a trade show organizer, we want everyone to get the max benefit from participation.

  3. Posted August 9, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    i have attended many industry trade shows and probably 5 % of companies do any meaningful follow upthere cost per customer accusation must be horrendous!

One Trackback

  1. By Of Trade Shows and Sailboats « EMS Buzz on August 9, 2010 at 10:18 am

    […] a recent IPC post, Trade Shows and Black Holes, Terry Costlow cites a study that says nearly 70% of sales leads, many of them from trade shows, […]

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