And We Call Ourselves Marketers?

Guest Blogger: Carol Wolicki VP of Marketing @ WebbMason

A few weeks ago I attended the DMA 2011 Conference in Boston, MA, at the city’s new convention center. As a marketer in that city for more than 20 years, it was a special pleasure for two reasons: (1) It was – and I’m embarrassed to admit this – my first opportunity to explore the city’s new conference facility in the revived Seaport area…and, lucky for me, the rain stayed behind in Baltimore. So, it was a sunny and breezy New England day when I arrived. (2) The day I attended was the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Ten years earlier this same conference in Chicago had turned appropriately to the doom, gloom, and empty aisles that day represented. So, the bustle of the show and the crowds of marketing professionals and vendors I saw at the conference and in the exhibit hall was a real spirit lift and a 180 degrees from ten years back.

I spent the day walking the aisles, talking to vendors, listening to pitches, and massaging my feet (Note to self: Leave the high heels behind next time.)  But I learned a lot and reached out to quite a number of vendors about products or services of potential interest to WebbMason.

All these vendors promised to follow up. And one or two did. And so I waited. And waited. And…what the heck?  I’m still waiting to hear from the majority of vendors.

It should have been a clue when some of the booths I walked into were staffed with personnel that didn’t know how to operate the badge scanners.  And some didn’t even have them. So, I did run out of business cards to leave behind, and signed my contact info to the backs of their cards. And we all know what happens to ‘those’ prospects: they get dropped into some booth staff member’s pocket, possibly never to emerge. But what happened to the others?

It’s one thing when you don’t want vendors at your literal or virtual door.  It’s quite another when you ask for someone to call, and then you’re ignored.

Hey DMA Exhibitors:  I INVITED some of you to call. Are you not listening?  Are you playing hard to get? Have you lost the ‘delicate art’ of follow-up?  Has all the noise in the industry about not reaching out to customers and waiting for them to approach you totally confused you? Really?  You’re supposed to be cream of the crop… but I’m embarrassed for you…

And you call yourselves marketers?


Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


3 Responses to And We Call Ourselves Marketers?

  1. webbmason says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the comment on this.

    I know a lot of companies still don’t believe that trade shows are one of the most cost-effective lead generation tools, but when it comes to B2B sales and to establishing long term relationships, being in front of the prospect is always a good idea. And dollar for dollar of marketing investment, face-to-face meetings really pay off. When you consider the investment that today’s show-goers make to attend a trade or company event, it only makes sense that vendors HAVE to be firing on all pistons to attract, engage, and follow-up with booth or speaking session attendees.

    If a customer shows interest and you don’t follow up, what does that say about you as a vendor? It says that you’re not interested. Forget all the excuses about not having time or staff. If you’re going to a show, you must think out your pre- and post-engagement strategy ahead of time. If you know who you’re apt to attract, and how you need to respond prior to attending, you can set responses in place ahead of time. Great booth managers review their foot traffic leads at the end of every day and they plan their responses accordingly. Poor booth managers take their shoes off and get-outa-dodge. Yes, it’s a long day, but trade shows are a huge expense for a company, so it’s important to save some energy at the end of the day for scrubbing the day’s leads and planning next steps. Leads need to be responded to within 12 to 24 hours. Any longer and they may not be leads anymore.

    Hope that helps.

  2. David Pydlek says:


    I have had the same experience. Unfortunately, someone is making decisions (or non-decisions) regarding follow-up. Or, as you suggest, they are just poor marketers. It is a common resource deficient at most independent resellers in many channels (not just DMIA). Marketing is the last resource considered and when done so, it is handled poorly with inappropriate or inexperienced personnel as a part time activity (something to do in addition to what they do full time….). I’ve seen purchasing mangers, sales people and even operational mangers involved in “marketing”. They will follow-up with you when they have time to do it… It is not a priority.

    David Pydlek
    Integrated Supply Consultants, LLC

  3. Paul Edwards says:

    Totally understand your comments and frustration. Follow-up is the most time sensitive and critical component of any event. I see that Webb Mason attends and exhibits at many shows and host numerous webinar events. What has Webb Mason found to be the three most essential aspects of event follow-up and how do those action help improve you ROI on events? I am sure all of us would appreciate hearing and learning from your successful experience.

    Paul Edwards

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