Smart lead retrieval and post-show follow-up can give brands a greater return on investment at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim. Learn how.

Dawn Reiss

February 27, 2024

5 Min Read
Smart lead retrieval and post-show follow-up can make a big difference to getting a return on investment at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim.
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Simi Zic, sales operations manager at Rudi’s Rocky Mountain Bakery in Boulder, Colorado, loves going to Natural Product Expo West. “Expo West is a really big deal for everyone in the natural products industry,” Zic says. “Everyone looks forward to it every year.” 

Maximizing the experience—and the return on investment—requires some strategy and pre-planning foresight when attending such a massive tradeshow.  

“A lot of companies don't understand the value of trade shows because they don't understand how to track the leads properly,” says Charlene Moore, CEO, co-founder and public relations officer at Kind Marketing in Henderson, Nevada. 

To make the most out of the next show, here’s advice on how to generate great leads and make a strong return on investment at Natural Products Expo West.

What are lead retrievals?

Lead retrieval is “an amazing software,” Zic says, that can be used as an app on your phone, iPad, or Android tablet. It allows users to scan QR codes on everyone’s tradeshow badges. 

Prior to attending a show, attendees and exhibitors fill out a small profile, including their name, title, contact details and “small bits of information” about the company that gets housed in the QR code.

Exhibitors and attendees can purchase licenses or scanners to scan QR codes off badges and download the contact information into a lead retrieval site. That saves a lot of time instead of grabbing business cards or using a pen and paper to take notes.

Exhibitors can order a lead retrieval package directly from Expo West to further simplify the process.

If you're using a personal device instead of a scanner, have everyone upload the leads nightly, Moore says. “They don’t get to take those leads or share them with someone else,” Moore says.

Regardless of the type of device that’s used, within one to three business days after the tradeshow, the company operating the Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), will take the scanned information, including any notes, and send it to in an excel spreadsheet. 

Take detailed notes

But the technology can only go so far. Make sure the team is trained to take detailed notes to qualify any leads, Moore says. 

“Lead generation is a sales tool,” Moore says. “But it’s also a marketing tool.”

Keep records of what the person would like to purchase or what programs they are interested in. Assign follow-up to your marketing or sales team based on the interaction. 

“There's so much going on at these trade shows, that so many people just scan, press save and keep going,” Zic says. “And then realize you didn't write notes or give a rating to the person that you interacted with.”

That makes it harder, Zic says, when you’re sitting at your computer a week or two later trying to follow-up.

Why do lead retrievals help ROI?

“Leads give you a scope of how much revenue was gained,” Moore says. That’s important when trying to track and qualify if a huge sale or ongoing sales were the direct result of going to a trade show like Expo West.

“Even if they’re an existing customer, you should still be scanning for that,” Moore says.  

Track how many people visited the book, how many people were engaged and how many sales came out of the show.

“That will provide the ROI you will need to rebook that show for the next year,” Moore says. “And possibly allow you to invest more money into that show because of the value.”  

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Don't forget pre-show marketing and planning

Before going to Expo West, employ pre-show marketing to bring people into the booth. Invite former leads to the show, Moore says. Consider buying a show list from Expo West to invite people to the booth. 

Train your internal sales team and people working the booth on all your programs and offers. Educate them on how to use the lead tool. “Make sure everyone knows what’s required when they talk to someone to make sure they get that scan and an accurate report,” Moore says.

Create a positive connection 

“For me, it always starts by having a really fun atmosphere at your booth,” Zic says. “Sometimes you walk by booths and people look absolutely miserable.” 

People can tell when you’re in a good mood or not. “We always try to be as engaged as much as possible because you’re more likely to catch someone, even if it’s a quick little conversation,” Zic says. 

That doesn’t always happen.

“Sometimes people will just scan badges to scan badges at trade shows,” Zic says.  

Instead, create a connection by making it personal. Go beyond a show script or sale pitch. 

“It doesn’t always have to be about business,” Zic says. 

Take a break and talk about fashion, food or the weather, she says.  Use phrases such as, “Hey, I can tell you’re super busy” or “We had a really good conversation, let’s follow-up after the show.” 

“The simplest little lines can really capture people’s attention,” Zic says. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or do anything crazy or splashy to get people’s attention.”

It also takes off the pressure of having the same conversation over and over again.  

Nurture the leads with post-show follow-up

“It’s all about the follow-up. Make sure you are really diligent and send the follow-up,” says Lisa Curtis, founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli Foods. “I’m always surprised about how often people have wonderful conversations and forget to follow-up. So much of the success is in the follow-up and keeping in touch.”

Start post-show follow-ups with reminders of any post-show offers. Every follow-up should be tracked in the CRM system. Do quarterly reporting that tracks back to that show to see if more sales are generated from a lead, Moore says.

If you’re launching a new product at Expo West, use that as a segue to follow-up and ask about the product and potentially get an online review. Share pictures from an Expo West party and tie it back to a promotion. Offer a recording of a band. Just do something fun; Moore says that engages people with a hook to come back.

“Don’t just make it an advertisement follow-up,” Moore says. “Make it a relationship.”

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Natural Products Expo West, the leading trade show in the natural, organic and healthy products industry, begins March 12 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Click through for the agenda, registration, travel information and more.

About the Author(s)

Dawn Reiss

Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based journalist who has written for TIME, The New York Times, The Atlantic, AFAR, Travel + Leisure, Civil Eats, Fortune.com, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, among others. Find her at www.dawnreiss.com.

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