The rise of the internet has transformed the way we do business on a daily basis in a variety of ways, but even the entire online world cannot replicate the value of an old-fashioned face-to-face interaction at trade show events. This is why trade show events still remain an effective marketing strategy as they provide you with the chance to meet and interact with prospects in person and build a more personal connection between your company and your prospects. Consider the following statistics source

• 77% of decision-makers found at least one new supplier at the last tradeshow they attended.
• 46% of decision-makers make a purchase decision at a tradeshow.
• 51% of attendees request a sales representative visits their company after the event.

In the current internet dominant age, trade show events, even effective, should not be your sole source of generating new qualified leads. Even a highly targeted LinkedIn saved search, advanced CRM having built-in capabilities for prospecting, or groups of Google alerts can provide highly fit opportunities to you on a regular basis, that too, without having to step your foot outside your office.

But almost every industry has one trade show event that is the most happening event. And everyone that attends the trade show event, including your competitors and customers, and of course your potential buyers. Your company must be present and represented on the vendor floor, without any if, and, or any but.

However, sending your team to a trade show event can be quite costly. How can you ensure that the total cost of sending your team will be offset by the business they bring back from the trade show event?
A trade show event can be a gold mine of opportunities for obtaining contact details of new qualified leads to build and grow your business network. But for this, the attendees have to know about your offering(s) and of course about you and your company, and should be convinced that you are a credible resource that will value and respect their privacy before they are willing to share their contact details with you or any of your company representatives present at the trade show event.

The trade show events tend to be one of the most costly forms of promotion and marketing. This is the reason some companies (especially bootstrapped startups or small companies) gets easily discouraged when they are evaluating the cost incurred by these types of trade show events. On the other hand, many of these companies missing out on such opportunities don’t realize how lucrative these events can be when the correct steps are taken to prepare their teams to generate lots of new qualified sales leads.
When it comes to attending trade show events, many attendees have one common misconception that sales are made at the trade show event. While this may be true in some cases, but most of the attendees want to explore and shop around before they make their buying decision, trying to fully leverage the huge opportunity which the trade show event offers them. Hence, the relationship you create with the attendees during and after the conversation with them at the event.
If you are new to trade show event marketing, if you find yourself falling behind your lead generation target, then you are in for a treat. Today, we will break down many ways to can generate more qualified leads at your next trade show event.

Create an extensive pre-show campaign

You can possibly do everything right at a trade show event and still leave empty-handed, without any new leads. Why? Because the resource and effort you put in leading p to a trade show event is much more important than what you actually do at the event. Like if you don’t prepare yourself for your semester exam, then you can’t perform in your semester exam, or someone that has prepared for their semester exam will do better than you in their semester exams.

Now consider this; most of the trade show attendees enter into these events with 75% of the booth’s they’d like to visit are already selected source So, if the attendees are not aware of your boot before the event, you cannot aspect to generate many new qualified leads at the trade show event.
This is why you must prepare a comprehensive pre-show campaign to build awareness and generate more traffic to your company’s booth at the trade show event. Never save the preparation of your booth for the last minute. Instead, you should start your campaign at least one month before the trade show event. The following are some ideas to get you started;

• Leverage social media: Create content for your upcoming trade show event and promote across your company social media channels, and use hashtags that are event-specific to capitalize more on pre-show hype that’s happening. So, with an active approach to social media, you can easily ensure that your company is part of the conversation surrounding the upcoming trade show event.
• Promote your booth: Although this may seem quite obvious, you need the attendees to know exactly where they can find you at the event. So, share your booth details, directions, and maps to show the attendees where your boot will be within the exhibit hall. Then start to build hype and excitement for your booth by promoting contests, product demos, giveaways, anything else that you can offer at your booth during the trade show event.

• Reach out to attendees ahead of the event: Reach out to the event organizers and obtain a list of all the registered attendees. Then reach out to the attendees using different channels to introduce them with your company and products and offer them an easy way to schedule appointments, book your product demos with your company at the event. And the same time prioritize prospects that are a good fit for your products. So, with this approach, you can prepare your entire team that will be representing your company at the event for those specific attendees when they actually visit your booth during the trade show event.

• Create event-themed content: create several types of content like infographics, blog posts, videos, e-books, etc, that tie into the overall theme of the trade show event. Then, target the attendees with these engaging contents before the show.

Make your booth stand out

The event halls of these types of trade show event are usually populated with many booths vying to grab the attention of the attendees. And a booth that is visually appealing can easily encourage attendees to stop by your booth to check out what you are offering. This is why; you should spend some time to create a captivating and unique booth design.

Here are some ideas to make sure your booth catches the attention of attendees;

  • Offer giveaways or freebies: People just love a freebie and the trade show event attendees are no different. Give away small yet practical gifts that can be of actual value to the attendees; like phone accessories, t-shirts, tote bags, etc. A practical and unique giveaway will entice the attendees to stop by your booth, from there capitalize on this opportunity and introduce them to your company and your products.
  • Leverage different types of multimedia: invest in video and other relevant technological elements to gram more attention for your booth. Set-up display monitors to showcase your product demos or some other interesting videos about your product and company. The attendees will gravitate towards an interesting video presentation much easier, than they would, compared to a pamphlet or some other similar materials.
  • Present a clear message: the trade show attendees may only have a glance while passing your booth. So, your mission statement must be succinct and simple to understand. If an attendee sees your booth from a distance and cannot understand what you are offering, they are unlikely to come closer for a better look.

Put your products front and center

Although the appearance of your booth is very important, you can generate leads only when the attendees are interested in your products or services that you are offering. And always remember that an eye-catching presentation will easily grab the attention of the attendees, but a valuable product or service will convince them into making a purchase.

Make your product or service the focus of your booth so the attendees can easily know exactly what you have to offer and how they can benefit from your offering. Provide product demos and offer a clear set of instruction for the next steps to the attendees showing interest.

Visit other company booths

While this tip may seem counterintuitive, you can generate even more leads by actually stepping away from your company booth. The exhibit halls of the trade show events are usually filled with booths of many different companies showcasing their product or services. So, it’s quite obvious that not every attendee will make it to your booth.

This is why; you should venture away from your company booth and explore the exhibit hall. Stop by booths of different companies and introduce yourself, your product, and your company to the attendees as well as to the representatives of those booths. Try to grab every possible opportunity to network and talk more about your company and your product or service. Of course, it’s much easier to stay at your company booth and wait for the attendees to come to you, but if you step out of your company booth and with it your comfort zone as well, you will leave the trade show event with more fresh leads.

Invest in a data collection tool

Capturing the contact details of the attendees should be immediate and seamless. And if you don’t have an effective system in position for collecting leads, you will run into many problems, duplicate data, incomplete data, and many more.

So, invest in a data collection system to capture the leads directly from the trade show event into your CRM. You will save much time and at the same time avoid any human error into your lead generation process.

Apart from the above-mentioned techniques for generating leads at a trade show, the following are some more ways to generate qualified leads at a trade show event;

Book a high traffic area for your booth

Scope out the complete layout of the trade show event facility and choose a high traffic area for your booth. Most of the people in the US naturally go to their right when they enter the event, so a booth on the right side or near a washroom will put your booth in a prime location.

Schedule meeting with current customers

Set up scheduled times for meeting with your existing customers, so your company’s loyal customers don’t have to wait around to talk to you.

Send out an email blast

Blast an email campaign to your entire subscriber list that you are going to be at the event, including the details of your boots. Even if the majority of your subscriber doesn’t attend, they will view your company as a significant player in your industry for participating.

Become a speaker

Look into the opportunity to become a speaker for a roundtable or panel discussion at the trade show event.

Leverage the opportunity as a speaker

Keep the self-promotion to a minimum while speaking at the roundtable or panel discussion. But don’t be afraid to mention your booth number where you will be available for questions after the presentation.

Hire booth representative

Recruit boot representative that skilled at reading body language.

Get a dress code

Establish a dress code that helps the attendees to easily distinguish your company booth staff form the other booth staff of different companies and the attendees as well.

Distribute giveaways through nearby hotels

Distribute your giveaways to the trade show event attendees through nearby and adjoining hotels. Think customized coasters for the restaurant or bar, or welcome baskets for hotel rooms.

Tempt the attendees with giveaways

Tempt the event attendees that are passing by your booth with highly visible giveaways, but keep them closer to the center of your booth to give your team an opportunity to approach prospects.

Tweet people that posts event hashtag

Tweet people that use the relevant hashtag about the event and invite them to your booth for a meet-up or giveaway or both.

Offer customized napkins

Approach the attendees that are eating but don’t interrupt, and offer them customized napkins that have your company logo printed. It is a very subtle method with potentially huge payoff.

Give away two-part gifts

Put your team members throughout the event convention floor to give away the first part of a two-part promotional gift like tumbler/koozie, flashlight/batteries, and then direct all the attendees back your booth for the second piece of the promotional gift.

Offer hands-on exploration

Offer the attendees with a hands-on exploration of your products. The entire point of an in-person experience like this is to offer potential customers access to your product and an expert at the same time.

Attend roundtable and panel discussion

Attend panels, roundtable discussion, and presentation to network with potential business partner or prospects who may be interested to work out a reciprocal referral program with you.

Give out your card

Eat at hotel restaurants or some other places near the trade show event. Chat up with other attendees, and offer them your business card to encourage them into further conversation.

Put a limit to your pitch

Limit your pitch and also share it with all your prospects, so they don’t breeze past, worried that they will be stuck in a 15-30 minute presentation: Can I borrow you for just 20 seconds to show you our brand new product?

Get in front of decision makers

Ask open-ended simple questions prior to your pitch to ensure the person you’re talking to have the role of deciding to buy your company’s product or service or solution.

Get more coverage

Organize a press kit for the bloggers and reporters that are covering the trade show event.

Dedicate some time for the local press

Plan some time for local press or blogger to interview your booth staff and ensure you have enough staff at your disposal to cover the attendees while one of your staff is busy with the reporter. Being interview add to your status in the industry.

snoop on your competitor

Check out your competitor’s booth and find out what kinds of strategies see to be working for them. As going incognito as a prospect to your competitor’s booth can easily give you the inside scoop on how your brand is perceived. And if you are really bold, you can even ask them to compare themselves to your own company.

Consider interactive activities

Consider trivia raffles, contests, and other interactive activities at the booth to gather a crowd at your booth. This will also help you to make your booth look busy and in high demand, an attractive look for anyone wandering past.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that is impossible to actually predict what will happen at an event. Maybe some part of your booth becomes a huge hit with attendees in an unexpected way or maybe a random encounter leads to a big opportunity. But, with preparation and approach, you will definitely improve your chances of attendees and with many fresh leads.

Remember, generating a lead is just the beginning of successful trade show event marketing. So, ensure you have a detailed follow-up plan in place to quickly reach out to the fresh leads while your booth is fresh in their minds.

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