If you're exhibiting at a trade show, you may well speak to hundreds of different people on any single day. They may all be interesting individuals, people who are interested in doing business with you in the future, but the reality is you can't get to know everybody properly. If you get decent footfall to your stand or booth, there simply isn't the time to have extended conversations with everyone who expresses an interest in your offering.
The fact is that every person who approaches you - or you approach - could be the next potential customer. It won't necessarily be the person you spend 30 minutes talking too, convincing them about the benefits of your products and services. Because however hard you try to make a sale, they still have the right to leave at any point without buying.
Your next customer might be somebody else - the person who approaches your stand or booth, yet finds you occupied with somebody else and too busy to talk. They walk away, taking their order with them. Effectively you've spent your time and energy on the wrong individual, and ended up with nothing.
If it was possible to tell who is a serious customer, and who is just 'window shopping', from the outset, things would be much easier. You can make an educated guess, and zone in on people who look like they are genuinely interested and willing to buy, but ultimately you can never really tell. This is why you need to hedge your bets with trade show visitors, and try to make a little time for everyone.
You might not be able to have a full, detailed conversation with each person when it's busy, but even in the space of 30 seconds to a minute you can get them engaged, deliver your micro-pitch and show off your brand. You'll either make a good first impression, and stand a chance of converting the lead into a paying customer, or you won't.
In the same way that you may speak to hundreds of different people during the day, trade show visitors might as well. If they go around every stand, many of them will blur into one by the end of proceedings. This is why it is important to give each person you speak to a memorable 'take-away' - something to remember you by, and a reminder to get back in touch.
A business card probably isn't going to cut it, as visitors may pick up dozens of them at each show. Producing a short booklet, or pamphlet, with all the relevant information, is a much better idea. It will help you stand out from the crowd.
When the consumer reads through the document, they can learn more about your business and brand, and also reconnect with you as a person. The 'take-away' item provides context, reminding them who they were talking to - however briefly - while also offering your contact details, such as email and web address. This increases the likelihood of them doing business with you, rather than one of your rivals.