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Using Your Own iPads for Trade Show Leads

The question is often asked, “May we use our own iPads for your leads system”?  Seems like a logical assumption, since iPads are iPads, right?  Well, yes and no.

The answer, of course, is yes, but understanding the risk and trade off is important in making such a decision. Let’s take a look at standard apps offered by lead retrieval companies. Many trade show lead retrieval providers offer apps for iPads, iPhones and Android devices.  Each system requires a cellular data connection where you often type in a badge number and you either see the leads immediately or (typically) later that night on the internet.

If you don’t need to always see the attendee’s information at the point of entry and if being able to share the leads with all of your reps is not important, then this is a great system to use. If you know that your cell phone connection is flaky, this is not the way to go. If you are at a heavily attended show, your cell phone may work intermittently; this is due to over subscription of the networks.  A local cell tower can only handle so many concurrent calls and everyone else must wait.  This traffic jam is also true when trying to connect to the internet via your cell phone or iPad, which means the rented lead retrieval system will not be reliable. You will not know that the attendee badge you scanned during the day was missing critical phone and email information until you log in to view your leads at night.

When you make a decision to use an enterprise solution from NewLeads, the standards are much different in order to meet the requirements: a networked, real-time system that is always connected and never fails.  This is no small task in a trade show environment where most booths are broadcasting a wireless network in addition to the 10 or more exhibit hall channels. The wireless network must be enterprise-class, the bluetooth scanners must be rock-solid, and the iPads must be dedicated to their private and secure connection.  Let’s say your rep brings his own iPad to the show.  What’s on it?  Angry Birds? iTunes? Words with Friends? Personal email or Facebook? Home-made collateral and power points?  Not only do those programs provide your rep with temptation to goof around but also with the built-in technology to search the internet for app updates.  Auto-updates like these create a drag on the system, disrupt local wireless connections and may cause your iPads to drop off the network when you need them for taking leads.

Aside from the connection issues are the content issues.  Which collateral would you like your reps to show attendees in the booth?  If you prefer to select the best collateral suited for a trade show environment, you can lock that down on our system and prevent “message freelancing”; you can even track collateral viewing habits with our system, send instant emails with collateral links and view open and click rates by each piece of collateral. The technical setup for each iPad sent with our system is rigorous; each system is streamlined for our wireless network and optimized for trade show use.

Although it seems easy to use your own iPads, it’s like many things in our industry: if it’s designed and built for trade shows, it’s going to give you the superior results you demand.  Let’s have a discussion about the big picture and see how we can deliver superior results with a turn-key system that’s guaranteed to work. After all, it’s the leads system that matters; the iPad is just one of the components.

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The Problem with Lead Solutions that Depend on Wireless Connections–no problem

The Problem with Lead Solutions that Depend on Wireless Connections (is not a problem with NewLeads)

A desperate competitor recently posted an article trying to scare exhibitors away from iPad solutions that rely on internet and wireless connectivity, saying that there is a problem with lead solutions that depend on wireless connections.  Ironically, the competitor’s iPads ultimately rely on internet connections so that the leads can be “synced”. Perhaps the blog post goes under the category of “open mouth, insert foot”.  But it raises an important topic, nonetheless: what is the problem with lead solutions that depend on wireless connections?

There are two ways to use wireless at a show: one is with an internet connection and the other is with a local wireless cloud network (the latter of which is used by NewLeads.) Anyone using their smart phone at a trade show knows about internet and cell phone “flakivitiy”; some places are great for Verizon and At&T but Sprint has no signal and vice-versa (be it phone or broadband card).

Some lead collection systems rely on the internet, either directly or by periodically syncing the leads, both of which are flaky at best. Not having an internet connection–intermittent or permanent–means either no lead collection or no syncing of locally gathered leads at your show–none at all. Clearly, relying on an iPad’s connection to the outside world is a huge gamble at any level.  Even if you buy an internet drop and pay for wireless IP addresses for each iPad, the system is now only as good as your wireless system and your speed is only as good as the amount of shared traffic by other exhibitors.  It’s like rush hour traffic; you’ll still have a problem even if you are connected.  And did I mention how expensive are those internet drops?

So what is better about the NewLeads BlackBox trade show iPad cloud server in the booth? Why do we absolutely guarantee it, knowing that failure would mean the loss of a client? Instead of hoping for an internet connection, we avoid it, putting the wireless right in you booth.  This is the only system NewLeads has deployed for 18 months to Fortune 1000 exhibitors and nobody has ever lost a wireless connection with our iPads (except for a physically damaged unit in shipping). While we won’t divulge the secrets behind our technology, we can tell you that our system is personalized to every iPad in the booth and does not try to compete with other wireless networks.  Each iPad is fine-tuned to our network and our secure access point knows every connection.

The beauty of this live iPad network design is that information is instantly shared across all iPads in your booth. It even works with business card scanners and RFID badges, so you can rely on it for every show.  Let’s say that attendee/prospect Taylor speaks with Avery on your staff who takes notes on the iPad and ticks off some lead survey answers after the conversation.  Later in the day, Taylor speaks with a different rep in another area of your booth. With the NewLeads in-booth wireless network, Taylor’s information is easily recalled and the lead is merely updated with new or corrected data and interests.  This is true even if the re-visit is two days later.  The NewLeads iPad BlackBox network eliminates duplicates and conflicting lead data.  Best of all, it provides rapid sharing of leads and data among all reps in the booth.  It also gives managers the ability to see real-time booth activity in dashboard  reports  such as leads per hour, collateral viewing trends, leads per sales rep and so forth.

To understand why a NewLeads wireless system in your booth will always work, you need to know how everyone else tries to do this and why it is unsuccessful.  The way most wireless networks are deployed at trade shows is with “volume”.  It’s like my twin boys, now 16; when they are together and in a conversation with someone else; they keep interrupting each other and raising their voices to be heard, louder and louder, until eventually they hear a frustrated parent say (in a loud and stern voice), “Keep it down!”  If they are in a room with 50 other teens, it’s impossible to hear a conversation across the room.   It’s all just noise with no ability to  distinguish one conversation from another. So it is with wireless networks at trade shows; lots of noise and no distinction. The NewLeads wireless networked cloud is like a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones; it does not use power to overcome the other networks but rather uses precision and exclusive communication channels to filter out the noise. After 18 months, it still works flawlessly and is more reliable than a hard-wired network.

So what is the design  flaw in “syncing” leads?  In 1996, long before anybody was in this business, NewLeads created a syncing solution which revealed many flaws over the years.  Consider what it means and does: synching leads combines leads from all iPads into one database.  But if you are like most exhibitors, you have a return visitor rate of 20% or more.  What if Taylor comes back to the booth and does not speak with the same sales rep?  The lead can’t be updated unless it has been synced, so a second scan is done.  What if the answers to the sales survey questions have changed?  Which record will the sync use? Combining records is not accurate; many answers are single pick only.  What if the attendee information is slightly different? Which record is correct? Will you allow software rules to randomly make this choice?

If you don’t need your leads right away and you can wait for a week or two for the iPads to get back to the vendor to upload and sync, then syncing is an acceptable solution. Otherwise, get a real-time networked cloud solution and see how the NewLeads trade show iPad solution can triple your sales ready leads.

Meanwhile, get all the tools you can to bring more sales-ready leads to your company.  Here are some free white papers you might find useful to download: Increasing Attendee Engagement at Trade Shows and Aligning Trade Show Leads With Your CRM.  If you’d like more information, please click on the information request here.


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Effective iPad Lead Retrieval Strategies for Trade Shows

Running to get the latest iPad for your trade show booth is a great concept, but make sure you create a plan to go with the device.

It’s so easy to think we can push a button and hear “that was easy!” and really have the problem solved. But like our parents told us, and we tell our kids, “the best things in life take a lot of time and hard work. There are no shortcuts to success.” This is true when using iPads. You’ll need a plan to create effective iPad lead retrieval strategies for trade shows, not only for use and implementation but also by setting some measurable goals and exciting your sales team excited about using iPads in the booth.

Start with an overall idea of what you wish the iPad would do to improve your trade show marketing process. Is better lead collection what you need? (Click here for the free white paper, “What Questions Go On My Lead Form?) Using an iPad for trade show lead capture is a great method, so make sure that it will work at all of your shows, not just a few. If you can’t use it at least at your tier one and tier two shows, then you still have a broken business process.

Beyond lead collection, what are the iPad lead retrieval best practices? With a device still so new, this is being redefined at every show. So, what else would you like the iPad to do? Using the iPad to show collateral is an obvious choice. Make sure you optimize the iPads for your trade shows. Using iPads for e-lit fulfillment will save you a lot of time and money and will be a great, Eco-friendly alternative to printing and hauling collateral to shows. With e-lit, you get a much stronger pass-along rate, so why not put that in your goals?

Next, think about what’s in it for the reps in the booth? If you position this as something you got for them, then your user adoption rate will be much faster. Find a few reps who already have iPads and pick a few test shows where they will be working. Get the iPads in their hands as “beta” users; seek their input and watch how fast they tell everyone in your organization about it. Certainly they will give you some insight into the way they use the iPads in the booth; perhaps they had a hard time finding collateral, maybe the process of correcting badge data was not intuitive. You’ll get great tips on how to tweak the iPads before your official roll-out.

Once in place, get a contest going between your reps. At our last show, Exhibitor 2012 (a trade show for trade show managers), we had a live dashboard with various metrics of booth activity. See the dashboard here. One of the little pie charts showed how many leads each rep had qualified. Just having the pie chart to view was enough to spur great competition among a team of five. By the end of the show, we were almost even in leads per rep.

Finally, you’ve got to align your trade show lead export file with your CRM. (Click here for a free white paper on “Trade Show Lead Alignment With CRM’s”). Collecting lots of sales-ready leads is a great start, but if you don’t have a process to give the leads in a “CRM-ready” file to your CRM team, you could see those leads just wither away.

If you’d like more information about iPad lead retrieval for trade shows and best practices, contact us for a discussion about your needs. Let’s dream together about what it could be and then create a great solution for you and your company!

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