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Trade Show Strategy: Getting Leads

I recently had a conversation with a friend about trade show marketing. In short, while attending a trade show an exhibitor had come up with a unique idea on how to draw attendees into their booth that really stood out – it stood out enough to warrant a LinkedIn post and a nice conversation. From what it sounds like, it was hugely successful in getting people into the booth. This is a good thing, having an active booth is A LOT better than having an empty one. But does a busy booth translate to a successful show? The answer is more complicated than yes or no.

There are a thousand ways to draw people into your booth; games, giveaways, handing out candy and playing a cool video are all totally valid strategies. The problems arise when booth staffers don’t know how to capitalize on a busy booth. It presents the opportunity to talk about your product or service and to qualify leads. If you offer some type of giveaway and require people to drop their business cards into a fishbowl, you’ll end up with a fishbowl full of “leads” but when you call them in a week you may find they were only interested in the cool prize you were giving away. Just because a person stops to play your game doesn’t mean they are a lead.

So What do you do?Make your gimmick count.
Whatever gets them into the booth is great, but if that thing brings awareness to your company, informs them of your product or generates brand awareness all the better.

Engage your visitorsDon’t simply return from a show with a list of badge scans and hand it off to someone to call. They are going to be bummed if 90% are unqualified leads that just scanned their badge to get a prize and have no need for what you’re selling. Try your best to talk to everyone. If your booth is a mad house, you may not be successful in engaging everyone but the more people you can connect with the better. Take the time to work with your booth staff on proper booth etiquette and best practices, it will make a difference!

Be KindNot everyone walking into your booth is going to buy from you but everyone that walks into the booth will leave with an impression of both you and your company. Everyone that walks into your booth has a voice and a sphere of influence and they will talk about a bad experience.

Come preparedRather than trying to rely on walk in traffic at your booth, come prepared by scheduling meetings in advance with key prospects and current clients. You can have a successful trade show without a ton of foot traffic. Planning ahead will allow you to get coffee with that one client you wanted to connect with and strike a deal. This is where a strong social media strategy will help you.

About the Author

Chris Rowe is an Exhibiting Consultant with Skyline Displays Midwest, a full service global exhibit, event and environments studio located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A graduate of St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, Chris is passionate about helping people, and he makes his client's goals, problems and aspirations his own. His career in theatre has taught him that often the best solution to a complicated problem is the simplest one. He has made a career in communicating thoughts, concepts and ideas to his clients and there is no better education for that than being on stage. Chris believes that trade shows are performances at their core - put on a good show and the word will spread!

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