Photonics West 2015 Survey: Lead Gen Rises, Trade Show Follow-up Lags

Posted by Katie Steelman on Wed, Mar 18, 2015


Trade shows catering to high tech industries such as contract manufacturing or optics are highly targeted, and they're still an important part of an integrated marketing strategy. In Optics & Photonics, Photonics West is the can't-miss show of the year.

In our annual Photonics West Lead Generation Survey, we asked Photonics West attendees to share their results from the show. The survey is our way of helping optics and photonics companies benchmark their marketing performance against others in the field.

This year we received a record number of responses from a variety of companies, from glass manufacturers to capital equipment vendors, and the results are in. We’ve compiled the data in the SlideShare presentation below, but first here are some highlights…


Lead Gen Continues to Improve

71% of respondents cited stronger lead generation at Photonics West 2015 compared to Photonics West 2014.

This is the second year in a row that more than half of survey respondents saw an improvement in lead gen over the previous year. This progress suggests that companies may be doing a better job with their trade show marketing, whether that includes pre-show emails, social media promotion, or PR. Promoting their booth number, as well as any presentations or demos they were hosting, likely helped drive prospects toward these companies.

It is also possible that prospects were more engaged because booth staffers were practicing proper trade show booth etiquette. Keeping your booth neat and smartphones put away (unless you’re using them for lead collection, photos or an in-booth activity) can make your booth more appealing to visitors.

39% of leads were qualified, up from about 33% for the past few years.

The small jump in qualified leads indicates that companies might also be getting better at creating targeted content that resonates with their intended audience. 

Photonics West Leads in Leads

As in previous years, an overwhelming majority of respondents said that Photonics West is their best performing show. Optifab came in second, with slightly more than half the responses of Photonics West, while Optics + Photonics ranked third.

Walking is Good for Business Health

While the majority of respondents had 10- or 20-ft booths at Photonics West, nearly a quarter chose to walk the show. One respondent said that they walk most of the major O+P shows and find it to be a good way to meet clients and prospects.

If you’re unsure if a particular trade show is a good fit for your company, walking the show on your first visit allows you to get a sense of the show and assess whether it would be worth committing to a booth the following year. Walking also frees up time to:

  • Visit prospects, current customers, suppliers or partners at their booths.
  • Hold one-on-one meetings with the above people.
  • Attend a presentation or demonstration and learn something new.
  • Meet with a reporter to pitch a story idea.

Follow-up Needs Work

Respondents were slightly more confident in their trade show preparation than in follow-up. As one respondent commented, “Sometimes the follow-up falls off the radar screen too quickly.”  

We often see companies go into a trade show with good marketing momentum and meet a lot of qualified prospects, only to ignore those leads after the show. A clear lead follow-up plan can help business leaders avoid this Post-show Lead Amnesia. Phone calls are standard practice for hot leads, while email nurture campaigns are ideal for cooler leads.

Speaking of follow-up tactics, here are a few notes from the survey:

  • 41% of respondents reported that they call leads once, while 38% said they call multiple times. Studies show that 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the initial meeting. Companies that quit after one or two calls are likely missing opportunities that could arise later on.
  • 24% of respondents connect with leads on social media after a show. This number could be improved, considering that 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers, according to Forbes. We recommend that salespeople connect and sent a brief message to leads on LinkedIn after the show.
  • 86% of respondents use email to follow up with leads. This partiality for email is logical, as 68% of companies say that email produces good ROI (Econsultancy), and 72% of consumers cite email as their preferred method of communication with companies (MarketingSherpa).

Looking to better meet your lead gen goals or other goals at the next show? Check out our tip sheet for maximizing trade show ROI.

Download Tip Sheet

Also watch for an upcoming blog post on what marketing tactics worked and what didn't at the show. We'll share specific examples of high performers and effective marketing that can improve your ROI.

Topics: Optics, Trade Show Strategy