Photonics West 2017 Survey: Back to Trade Show Basics, Focus on Business Connections


It was all business at Photonics West 2017. The atmosphere was more serious and disciplined, with companies laser-focused on achieving specific marketing and sales goals and getting the most out of their trade show strategy. Our annual survey provides a look at these companies’ lead generation and follow-up success—check out the results to benchmark your own trade show performance.  [Take this year's survey!]


Going Old-School with Lead Capture

Photonics-West-2017-Survey-lead-capture.jpgIt seems that the current wave of nostalgia is not limited to TV revivals and movie remakes. We noticed at this year’s exhibitition that many companies had returned to collecting (or photographing) business cards rather than using badge scanners, and our survey supports this. Almost half of respondents said they collected business cards or used lead capture apps at Photonics West. Attendees are abandoning badge scanners due to escalating costs and little ability to make notes about contacts.


Making Meaningful Connections

Generating quality sales leads topped the list of objectives for the 2017 conference; other goals included nurturing relationships with existing leads and customers and building awareness of a new product or program. We also noticed a lot of supplier shopping while at the conference.

Specific goals for lead generation and engagement included:

  • 10% more leads over last year
  • 10 qualified leads and 2 closed orders
  • 2 program sign-ups



Multi-Faceted Trade Show Follow-up

Although Photonics West saw many companies return to old methods of lead capture, lead follow-up is still very much inbound-based. Email marketing is the preferred method of follow-up, and 71% of respondents said they are using a CRM, such as Salesforce or HubSpot, up from 55% in 2016. Despite this shift, a good number of businesses are still using phone calls and direct mail as added ways to reach customers.



Room for Improvement

Although companies are coming to Photonics West with clear goals and strategies, many are still reluctant to give themselves high marks in trade show preparation and follow-up. In fact, more than a third of survey respondents said their effectiveness in these two areas “needs work.”

Launch Team has several resources we use with clients to help them feel confident and prepared for trade shows. Download these tools before your next event.


Before the show: Trade Show Planning Kit

Download Trade Show Kit

After the show: Post-Event Activities Checklist

Download Post-Event Checklist


See the full 2017 survey results below: 

Share your insights from this year by completing our 2018 survey!