Trade shows are a great way to raise awareness of your brand, network with other companies in your industry, and even further your team’s skills and know-how. But more importantly, trade shows offer you a direct line to potential customers. 

If your primary goal is to generate leads, your booth needs to impress, resonate and ultimately persuade show attendees that you’re the company that can help achieve their goals and overcome their challenges.

How do you do that exactly? What can you do to ensure your next trade show booth is a lead generating machine? Here are 5 tips that can help:

1. Choose your trade show wisely

Not all trade shows are created equal. Just because an event is in your industry doesn’t make it right for you, nor should you try and attend every single show that’s in your wheelhouse.

The truth is, you need to consider all the details of a show before deciding to attend. This includes considering the following:

  • Size - How many visitors and exhibitors will there be? Is it a large show for the industry?
  • Location - Is it a big city, small town, international? How will this affect budgeting, staffing, travel logistics, etc.?
  • Attendees - Are they decision-makers or entry level employees? Primarily buyers or marketers?
  • Presence of Competitors - Will you be just another face in the crowd? Must you attend to stay competitive? What will be necessary to stand out?

Make sure you’re choosing events that will give you access to highly-qualified, ready-to-buy prospects who need and want your services. The better your event fits with your brand, the better luck you’ll have generating leads.

2. Promote your booth long before your event

It’s important to build buzz for your trade show outing well in advance. You should have a landing page promoting your booth, its location, and what you’ll have on display and offer. Also include an opt-in form, so you can capture leads early and pay special attention to them at the show. Send them updates as you get closer to the event, alerting them to changes, offering a sneak peek of new products, and building excitement for the show. You can even feature other brands and booths that will be on site to add extra value.

Make sure to leverage social media when promoting your upcoming booth. Utilize any show-related hashtags, and monitor those hashtags, so you can take part in online conversations. The more you make your presence known in advance, the more leads you’ll bring in on the day of the event.

3. Have a process for qualifying your trade show visitors

This one is huge. Just like no two shows are created equal, no two booth visitors are either. And more importantly, your staffers need to be able to identify the high-potential prospects from the ones who are just wasting your team’s time and energy.

The process should look something like this:

  1. Greet visitors, shake hands and introduce yourself.
  2. Ask open-ended questions about their company, position, goals, etc., to determine if your products are a good fit for their needs.
  3. Ask if they already have a provider or solution. If so, are they open to changing providers? Why or why not?
  4. If it becomes clear they’re not a viable prospect, politely thank them for their time, shake hands and move onto the next visitor.
  5. If they’re still a potential lead, move into your product demo, brochure, displays and other presentations.
  6. Finally, capture the lead’s information or schedule a follow-up appointment  for after the show.

Make sure your booth staff is fully trained on this process and give them some stock questions to ask to help qualify (and disqualify) visitors. The more efficient they are at this process, the more leads they’ll be able to generate at the event.

4. Show, don’t just tell

Talking about your products and how great they are can only get you so far. At a trade show, you really need to show your products and demonstrate their benefits—at least if you want to be remembered once the event comes to a close.

Try to incorporate as many visual and interactive elements into your booth as possible. Live product demonstrations, videos of your services in action or videotaped customer testimonials can be a great way to engage your visitors and provide them with visual proof that your products do what you say they do.

5. Hand out value (and freebies)

You’re not going to capture every lead at the show. Sometimes, a visitor might not need your services just yet, or maybe they need some more time to think and mull it over. To capitalize on these after-the-fact leads, make sure you give visitors something to remember you by—something valuable or useful.

Whether that’s a freebie they use at their desk (a pen, coffee cup or mouse pad) or just some nugget of knowledge that helps them do their job better (data from an exclusive study or a recommendation for a vendor or product), these things position you as an expert in the space and keep you top of mind once the show is over. Just make sure the visitor knows how to get in touch when you come to mind again, and you’ll be golden.

More Guidance

Be sure to check out our post on 3 Habits to Avoid When Generating Leads. Steering clear of these faux pas can help you host a successful trade show outing with more sales as a result. Want more help making your next trade show booth a winner? Contact Exhibit Options today.