How to generate leads at trade shows

Nov 14, 2018 | Exhibitor LRD, Expertise

Lead Generation at Trade Shows, Exhibitions and Events

Trade shows have been a source for improving brand awareness and generating new prospect leads for many years and still play a pivotal role in many businesses marketing campaigns. The success of exhibiting at a trade show can be significantly improved by the actions you take pre-event and during the show to ensure your sales team are prepped and prepared. So, you’ll be wanting to know how to generate leads at trade shows.

This article looks into some of the actions you can take to help improve the number of leads you generate at your next trade show, in turn improving your return on investment from exhibiting.

Tip 1: Selecting the right show for your business

As you will be aware there are hundreds of trade shows that take place every year and selecting the right one/s for you to exhibit at can be a daunting task. This can be made easier by conducting your research prior to booking your exhibition space by visiting the event to see the layout, the types of exhibitors the event attracts, the number of competing businesses already exhibiting, the type of visitors who attend the event and generally how much activity is happening at the event. Understanding whether you are exhibiting to enhance your brand awareness or to generate new leads will also affect the type of show you exhibit. For example, an accounting software business may exhibit at an industry specific event to enhance their brand awareness although may exhibit at an event which is less industry specific to target a certain business type with the goal of generating new leads.

Tip 2: Pre-Event Marketing

Once you have cherry picked the events you are going to exhibit at, marketing out to your existing customer base and prospect customers to let them know you will be at the event is a must. Having a busy stand will generate interest to passing visitors and also allows for a great opportunity to catch up with your existing customer base to enhance your current relationships and reinforce your brand. Furthermore, what could be better than an existing customer offering a testimonial there and then to new prospects while you are all talking at your stand!

Organisers will sometimes work with their registration provider to offer the option for exhibitors to have co-branded registration pages allowing the exhibitor to display their logo, name and details on the visitor registration page. This can be used by the exhibiting company to send out to their customer base as a quick way for your customer and prospects to register to attend the event while promoting your company and stand number.

Tip 3: Stand Content and Looks

The costs of designing and creating your trade show stand can soon stack up and there are many different build options available, but spending a fortune isn’t what it’s all about. When designing your stand content is very important as you need to get your message across simply and quickly without over-complicating things. I have walked past many stands that delve into minute and specific detail about the services/products without really explaining in simple terms what they do. Some visitors will have a goal of what they are looking for in mind and will glance at your stand as they walk by to see if you offer what they require. Having a clear message / explanation of your services will help capture the attention of visitors diverting them to your stand as they pass by. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put any further complex details on your stand but make sure that, from a visitor’s point of view, the content is easy to digest quickly at a glance.

Tip 4: Engagement at the Event

Time and time again I walk around trade shows and see so many exhibiting companies sat either on their phone or behind a laptop. As we all know stands at events don’t come cheap and by not maximising your opportunities as the event doors are open is madness. Seeing it from a visitors prospective, walking past a stand with the exhibitor sat on their phone or behind a computer can give the impression that they are not interested in a conversation or engaging. Furthermore, visitors can sometimes be shy and not want to lead with an introduction and being sat behind a computer can lead to many missed opportunities.

The best sales reps I have seen at exhibitions stand have been practically in the aisle greeting visitors and sparking up conversations as they walk by. This can be the difference between a couple of leads and poor brand awareness to a stack of leads and great brand awareness.

Tip 5: Lead capture

Having an effective and practical way to gather your leads at the event is a must to allow for a simple follow up process without having to start the conversation from scratch back in the office. At most events the  registration provider can provide an exhibitor lead capture service giving the opportunity to use either a handheld scanner or mobile app to scan visitors badges which records all the contact information such as phone number, company, address and email address supplied at registration. It should offer the option to add further questions that need to be asked and completed by your sales team and also give the opportunity to make text, voice or picture notes quickly and simply. When using an app these leads can be viewed by your team back in the office throughout the event and actioned if required as the leads sync straight to your exhibitor portal with a wifi or mobile data connection.

Tip 6: Follow up

Sounds like a simple one doesn’t it, ‘follow up your leads’, but in many cases, this just doesn’t happen. On some occasion’s exhibitors get back to the office the following day from the event and have too much to do to follow up the conversations and leads they had and as one day leads to the next, the leads are never followed up. Following up with your leads can increase your conversion rates substantially and lead to further meetings / conversations post event to work towards completing a deal and maximising your return of investment from exhibiting at the event.

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