The first time I took our company to exhibit in a trade show we brought along a big plastic fishbowl with a sign that said: “Free Drawing! Drop your business card in the bowl for a free copy of Business Plan Pro®.”

Three days later we had four fishbowls full of business cards. Business cards, business cards–and not a lead among them. Fortunately we typed in only a few hundred names and sampled the marketing results before we spent the resources to input thousands.

The list was useless. None of the people sampled wanted our product.

The following year we took the same product to the same trade show–and the same fishbowl, too. That second year, however, we put a sign by the bowl that said: “For more information about Business Plan Pro, drop your business card here.”

After that trade show we ended up with a few hundred good leads. We input the data and followed up and made some sales.

I’ve used this story often in teaching, seminars and managing my own company because to me it illustrates the importance of target marketing and focus.

In this example, quality of leads is much more important than quantity.

Thousands of bad leads are worth nothing, while a few hundred good leads have real value.

(Note: this is reposted with permission from Planning Startups Stories.)

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.