One of the main goals of attending a trade show should be to obtain new leads for your company. That, however, is often easier said than done. Luckily, we’re here to help. With that being said, here are 8 tips for acquiring leads at a trade show.
1. Choose a show that's right for you
Choosing the right show or convention to attend is the first thing you should determine and plan for. As we’ve said countless times before, trade shows can be extremely costly. In order to get the most bang for your buck, you want to make sure the show’s attendees are the same as your target audience so you can maximize the amount of leads you acquire. Shows often give out information regarding their attendees, such as who attends and how many attended in past years. Be sure to do some research and choose a show that’s right for you and your business goals.
2. Establish clear objectives
Prior to the start of the show, make sure you have set out clear objectives and goals to accomplish during the event. Objectives can range from acquiring leads to simply spreading awareness of your company or brand. It’s difficult to determine how successful a trade show experience was without having anything to measure. As such, it’s important to lay out what needs to be achieved prior to the show so that you have a clear plan of attack during the event, as well as be able to review the results afterwards and determine whether or not it was a success.
3. Choose the right location for your trade show booth
There are many different methods of choosing a space for your booth that is optimal and effective in gathering leads. Some exhibitors like being near entrances or food and beverage stations because they offer high visibility and large amounts of traffic. There are also others who choose spaces that are close to their competitors in order to reach their shared target audience. Whatever your strategic preference may be, just make sure to reserve that spot as early as possible to avoid having it taken first by other exhibitors, especially trade show veterans.
4. Keep the design of your trade show booth simple but attractive
You don’t necessarily have to have the flashiest or biggest booth display (and spend thousands and thousands of dollars on it) to make an impact at a trade show. A simple but attractive booth design will do the job and save you a ton of money as well. The most important aspect of designing your booth is making sure it captures your company’s essence and portrays your message effectively. Having a simple and straightforward message is a must as well. You want the attendees to be able to discern what your company does or sells instantaneously. Having too much clutter in your display or message will only serve to dissuade passersby and potential leads.
5. Have a professional staff
Even more important than having a great booth design is having a professional and friendly staff working there. It doesn’t matter how flashy or grand your display looks if the people working there are rude, inattentive, or disinterested. Employees of a company are direct representatives of the company itself, and act as extensions or reflections of the core values and principles the company stands for. For a trade show, you need employees who represent your company in a positive manner, know the products and services inside out, and exude a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
6. Visit other trade show booths
This is something many exhibitors tend to overlook or forget about. When you’re not busy tending to your own booth, try to walk around and visit other booths at the convention. It’s a great way to socialize and network with potential customers and business partners alike. Furthermore, it gives you a chance to see how other exhibitors are designing their booths or engaging with attendees. All in all, it’s a great opportunity for you to gain more insight and knowledge.
7. Collect contact information and follow up ASAP
Most importantly, be sure to collect the emails and business cards of all the people you talked to during the show that you felt had potential. The main goal of attending trade shows is to gain leads, so definitely don’t forget this step! At most trade shows nowadays, you can rent a badge scanner that allows you to scan an attendee or exhibitor’s badge and instantaneously gather their contact information. These devices are quite costly, but they can make your life a lot easier. After you’ve collected all the emails of possible leads or business partners, follow up with them as soon as possible. You want to continue the conversation with them when the information is still fresh in their minds. Once leads or deals are left unattended, they can be quickly forgotten or taken by competitors. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste!
8. Track results
Finally, once the show is over, go over and review the objectives you had set out prior to the show and check to see if you’ve accomplished all or most of them. This is your opportunity to assess how successful that show was for you, and what to improve or look out for next time.