Ever since I turned grumpy (I started early) I’ve been banging on about the pointlessness of taking large stocks of literature to exhibitions. After a quarter of a century, I’m still preaching the same message; don’t do it. All those glossy brochures and leaflets that fill your stationary cupboard, leave them behind.
Now, in case you haven’t suffered my rants in person, here are my top reasons for giving this advice.
- You’ll make more money. In the 1980s I was the event manager for a financial services company, and the salespeople were adamant that they had to have a brochure for every product we offered – which was over 80. Then the Financial Services Act was introduced, which made it illegal to offer a product to anyone without completing a comprehensive Fact Find. The rest of the world would call it “consultative selling.” Despite the fear of our sales teams, the new approach saw business go through the roof. Yours will, too.
- You need to store your brochures somewhere. That might mean cupboard space. So you’ll probably end up paying for a couple of metres – that’s, say, £700 – just for the privilege of stacking some leaflets somewhere. Bonkers.
- Your staff will spray your literature around like an incontinent tomcat. None of it will end up in the hands of people who want it – and glossy brochures cost you real, hard cash.
- It will become a worthless measurement, just when we’re trying to get the industry to embrace ROI. “Oh yes, it must have been a good show at the NEC; we gave away 3 000 brochures.” (Truth; most of them are now being tipped into a landfill outside Solihull)
- Your literature will become an excuse for reticent prospects not to give you their detail; “it’s okay, I’ve got your brochure, and I’ll get in touch if we’re interested.”
- Having lots of literature means your staff will bore the pants of visitors “look, here’s a picture of our new X47/3 with go-faster stripes” rather than asking questions and getting the right information delivered promptly after the show.
- It’s an environmental disaster. Where the Hell have you been if you haven’t heard about BS8901 and the forthcoming ISO standards? And don’t tell me your brochures all come from sustainable forests; any idea how much energy was wasted in turning those trees into all that paper-based guff about what a wonderful company you are?
- Your staff will appreciate it because they have to lug those boxes all the way from a car park 8 miles away, squeezing on to a bus, and struggling to balance the literature with laptop, handbag and a large cappucchino. Oh, and of course, they won’t bother bringing the half-opened boxes back (see point 4)
- It doesn’t support the ethos of consumer choice. Before you gave out the brochure did you ask the customer if that’s how they’d like to receive it? Perhaps they’d prefer to have it on a memory stick, or CD, or e-mailed to the office. And with the growth of smart phone apps, blue-tooth functionality and RFID, it may be possible to send the information straight to their mobile. Give them the choice.
- By filling your stand with literature, you’re failing to understand one of the fundamentals of modern marketing; namely that data is everything, and consumers need regularly repeated messages before they respond. It used to be said that the average purchase was made after a prospect was told about it 5 times; information overload means that number is probably now substantially higher. Throwing out a brochure and hoping that one hit is enough is almost doomed to failure from the start; instead go for capturing the data and starting the process of rigorous follow-up; phone, letter, e-mail, ezine, Linked In, Facebook, seminar invitation, etc.
Under my desk I have 5 plastic bags collected from various events. The oldest dates back about 8 months, and very soon Mrs John is going to come in with a determined look on her face and recycle them. If you gave me a brochure at one of those shows, our shallow, fledgling relationship will cease.
But if we had an interesting chat and you got my details, then know that letters, e-mails and calls will get some sort of reply. And even if that’s a “no”, it’s only a “no” for now.
Go on, ditch the literature at your next show, and do you, me and Mother Nature a favour.