The fish bowl business card

I have always been intrigued by the “fish bowl” lead generation system. You go to any kind of a trade show and every booth has a fish bowl asking you to drop a card to have a chance of winning a very valuable prize. I have often wondered if a prize is actually given away or what happens to all those cards. Over the years I have dropped my card in hundreds of fish bowls, but very seldom received anything from the exhibitor. The few I did receive were offers to purchase and since I did not respond, there was no follow-up.

There is time and money invested in exhibiting at a trade show. From my discussion with exhibitors, very few sold a product during the show. I found that most had a dual system by which they operated:

  1. If a card was dropped in the fish bowl but there was no discussion, it was not considered a lead.
  2. If the person stopped and visited, then the card was slipped into a pocket for future contact. I followed up and asked about the contact process. The typical answer involved a single follow up, either by phone, e-mail or snail mail. If no response was received, the lead was terminated.

There is, in my opinion, a correct way to work the “fish bowl” cards.

  1. First and foremost, in my opinion, by dropping a card in a bowl, the person gave you permission to contact them.
  2. In most cases people that attend a trade show could use some of the information (products/services) that are on display.
  3. The next step should be an educational process. This can be accomplished either by sending a brochure, a video, or by e-mailing the brochure. This first contact should contain the following information.
    1. What is your business? ( your story)
    2. What do you stand for?
    3. Differentiation is always important.. Why are you different from your competition?
    4. What unique value does your product or service provide?
    5. A call to action.
  4. If a prize is offered, the first contact should also announce the date of the prize award. This allows for a follow up.

I am a great believer in the six contact method. An e-mail does not cost anything to send so all these new contacts should be placed on your value based newsletter list and kept there for six months. Each newsletter should contain a call to action and a request for referrals. Newsletters should be personal and engaging; the writing of it is another topic for a future blog.

What will you stand for today? Will you pick up the phone and call me for a no charge get acquainted session, or will you keep on doing what you have always done and expect different results?

Nick J. Petra CFP   www.strategicduck.com nick@strategicduck.com 602-989-1592

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