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How to Bring The Right Prospects To Your Trade Show Exhibit

Trade show marketers are inundated with advice on how to drive traffic to their booths. If you start reading through that advice, though, one thing they often neglect to address is the issue of how to bring in actual prospective buyers. Yes, marketing depends on numbers and so does sales, but it’s not all about pumping warm bodies through your exhibit. You can waste a lot of time, money, and opportunities by flooding your sales team with the wrong kind of traffic. Obviously, they will spend time at any given show talking to some people who won’t buy, and that’s part of the gig, but you can help them out by planning your marketing campaign and your booth space in a way that does not actively attract those non-buyers.


Products And Services With Broad Appeal

There are lots of ways to break down types of buyers and products, and marketing and sales techniques. For now, let’s consider two major categories: Products and services that have a broad appeal, and those that are useful or appealing to a smaller, narrower group of prospects. In the first case, you get a much bigger pool of potential buyers. This offers your sales team more opportunities to sell, but it can also leave them swamped, and when you’re dealing with a product almost anyone can use, it’s difficult to know which prospects to court and which to broom. In this scenario, pre-planning, marketing, and booth design can help out by presenting visitors with a way to reveal themselves as being receptive.

Use banner stands to create a place for a massage chair in your booth. Or use a portable workstation or tables with custom graphics to offer a charging station. Trade show attendees are a fairly wary lot, and they’re hesitant to slow down too much, so the people who choose to spend those extra minutes in your booth are revealing that at least on some level, they’re receptive to your message.


Niche Market Prospects

If your product or service is targeted for a niche market, you need to attract people who are both in that niche and receptive to your message. In some ways, this can make marketing a little easier, because you know where to begin looking for those prospects you need. Attracting these prospects begins well before the trade show. One of the biggest reasons to start early is that in a niche market, the buyers have fewer choices of vendors, so they’re more likely to research ahead of time and arrive at the show with a short-list of vendors. Don’t overlook the power of an invitation. It’s not enough to merely inform your contacts of what you will be presenting and offering at the show; you need to invite them to come and give them some solid reasons to add your company to that short-list.


Make a Give-Away Work For You

Holding a giveaway at a trade show can generate a lot of contacts and traffic, but again, are they valuable contacts for your business? You’d gather a large crowd by throwing money off the roof, too, but it’s not going to benefit your company in any meaningful way, and neither is giving away an expensive prize, unless you’ve chosen a prize that will appeal strongly to the prospects you need and have less appeal for people who will never be buyers of your product. If your prospect pool is broad, maybe giving away an iPad is a worthwhile investment; who doesn’t want an iPad? If you’re looking for a more precise pool of prospects, though, put some more thought into a prize, so you get a meaningful return on that investment.


The biggest takeaway? Know your prospect.  When deciding how to attract prospects to your trade show exhibit, understand what they are looking for and how you can help them, then move forward with your approach.

About the Author

Kayla was a Senior Marketing Associate at Skyline Exhibits, based at Skyline's International Design Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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