Headed to the 2019 National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show (IBS) next month? That’s great news. You’ll be joining some 60,000 visitors from around the globe converging in Las Vegas for one of the industry’s biggest events of the year.

If you’re one of the 1,400 industry suppliers set to sponsor an exhibit at the 75th edition of this event, you’re probably excited about the opportunity to jumpstart the year’s marketing efforts and add scores of new leads for your salespeople. With any luck, you should be able to scan the badges of hundreds of attendees at your booth and generate an impressive CSV database file sure to make your sales managers drool.

Or will it? This is where the bad news comes in: Your significant investment in IBS might not deliver the returns you deserve. One of the biggest reasons: the list of contacts you hope to build is perishable and will require some work on your part to keep it fresh.

If you don’t believe it, consider your experience at last year’s IBS, and the database of contacts gained. How many of those leads were handed over to sales? Did they lead to increased sales? Maybe your sales people couldn’t get through all the leads in time. Or maybe they concluded it was a daunting, needle-in-a-haystack task.

These are the stories we hear from our building products clients all the time. Thousands of dollars spent gathering leads that never materialize. But it can be avoided.

This is where the work comes in, where you build quality over quantity. Instead of considering the contact list as the goal of your efforts, refine this resource a few steps further. Don’t hand over the list of cold leads to your sales teams and call it a day. Every lead gained at IBS will need to be nurtured to keep it fresh.

Here’s where you begin to create value by establishing a relationship with these new contacts based on their stage in the buyer’s journey. You’ll also optimize your sales people’s time in the process, another value-add.

The catch is, you have to move fast, because lead value dwindles quickly: According to lead response best practices from InsideSales.com and Harvard Business Review, contact and qualification rates drop dramatically within minutes and continue to decrease within hours.

Which means that unless you nurture them quickly, the leads you gain at IBS are likely to be worth far less by the time you get home.

What should you do? We recommend a responsive lead nurturing program that incorporates both marketing automation and informed content strategy to qualify your leads. A program like this provides numerous benefits: it keeps you top of mind with prospects, it streamlines your communication process, and it gives you rich insights into what your contacts are seeking. Ultimately, however, it should also let you know when your contacts are ready to buy.

Here’s how it works: Say that 100 new contacts visit your IBS booth on Tuesday, and you scan every badge. Your nurturing program begins the very same day, using marketing automation and a content strategy, to email everyone who visited your booth.

To keep time on your side, send out e-newsletters on Tuesday evening or first thing Wednesday morning. “Thank you for stopping by. Here’s what we talked about. And check out these resources, too.” Be sure to include a call-to-action to keep the conversation going. You want to garner more insights from your contacts about their place in the buyer’s journey and what speaks to them today, so you can reach out again tomorrow, the next day, next week and so on.

Whether it’s sending an e-newsletter, samples of your product, an industry report you’ve created, or a phone call from your sales team, your follow-up communications will continue this nurturing journey, allowing you to determine your next message or approach based on your contact’s recent response.

The process can take days, weeks or even months. Some of the leads will drop off, and that’s okay. All the while you’re nurturing those that stay in the game and gathering insights about their concerns. When they’re ready to talk about buying, you’ve got a sales qualified lead, and the time is right to bring your salespeople to the table, quickly.

Congratulations. At this point, you’ve made the most of IBS—or any lead generation program—nurturing the leads you’ve gathered and setting up your sales team for success. And that is the best news of all.

Interested in the details? We’re happy to tell you more. Contact us now to find out how we can develop a program for you.

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