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marketing

By July 30, 2014

7 Ways to Generate Leads at Trade Shows

tradeshow-leads-feature2Trade shows and exhibitions tend to be one of the most expensive forms of marketing, which is why some businesses (particularly small businesses or start-ups) get discouraged when it comes to the cost. However, many don’t realize how lucrative these events can be if the right steps are taken to prepare your team and generate leads.

One common misconception is that sales are made at the trade show. While this can be true, most attendees want to shop around before making their purchase decision. Therefore, the relationship you build with them during and after the convention is critical.

Here are the top 7 ways to transform interested attendees into leads, and ensure the best possible return on your investment:

How to Generate Leads at Trade Shows

Trade Show Marketing Tip #1: Have a game plan

I’m far from a sports buff, but even I know that a coach wouldn’t put his team on the field without a play in mind. The same goes for trade shows; without a set goal and a plan on how to achieve it, you’re hurting your chances of success. Determine how many leads you would like to get, and write a list of qualifying questions for your booth visitors to find out their interest level in your products or services. The secret to a successful trade show or exhibition is to know, in advance, exactly what you want to achieve – and then craft detailed plans to help you deliver.

Trade Show Marketing Tip #2: Choose the trade show wisely

Despite popular belief, all trade shows are not created equal. Instead of signing up for every trade show within 50 miles of your area, search for events that you can expect your target demographic and competitors to attend. You’ll get more potential customers from one or two targeted shows than you would from dozens of conventions that have little to nothing to do with your industry.

Trade Show Marketing Tip #3: Dress for Success

If your employees wear uniforms, make sure they are clean, pressed, and hole-free. If uniforms are not part of your everyday work attire, dress appropriately (business casual or suits), depending on the type of trade show. Keep in mind that exhibitors are on their feet for hours at a time, so comfortable shoes are also important. Your first impression is going to last with attendees, so make it a good one.

Trade Show Marketing Tip #4: Prepare your booth

In addition to your team’s attire, the appearance of your booth can mean the difference between a qualified lead stopping to say hello or walking past without a second glance. Give some thought to how you would like to present your brand, product, and services at the show. Your signage, design, and words are a good place to start – make it abundantly obvious what your business does and who you serve at a glance.

Trade Show Marketing Tip #5: Say goodbye to the fishbowl

Instead of collecting tons of business cards that could easily get misplaced or relying on attendee handwriting, use a digital form on a smart phone or tablet to easily and clearly record all of the contact information you will need to get in touch with them after the show.

Trade Show Marketing Tip #6: Hand out giveaways

Freebies are great for attracting attention, so long as they’re aligned with your lead generation strategy. Help interested attendees remember your company with a free item related to your industry, with your company’s information on it. Dentists, for example, might hand out floss or tooth brushes. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but should effectively communicate your brand and offering.

Trade Show Marketing Tip #7: Follow up

The final and most important step is to follow up after the show. Give your leads a week or two to soak up all of the information given to them at your booth, and then reach out to say hello, remind them who you are, and let them know how great it was to meet them. Don’t wait more than a couple of weeks, or your potential buyer may have time to forget about all the helpful information they were given.

Trade shows can be expensive. However, with the right preparation and strategy, you can use them to increase brand awareness, generate leads, and maximize your ROI. These tips should help you get the best results at your upcoming event – making them well worth the investment.


About the author:  Kristin Hovde is the Marketing Manager for Smash Hit Displays, an online trade show display company. She is also a regular blogger for Smash Hit Displays and a number of other trade show and marketing websites.