Three Ways You Can Leverage Trade Show Booth Leads and Profits

Most B2B exhibitors spend about a fifth of their marketing budget on trade shows. (This data comes from a recent Forrester study.)

Yet, most exhibitors are not taking orders in their trade show booths. Lead gathering is much more common than order taking at most trade shows.

Custom Modular Exhibit with Slatwall, Storage, Reception Counter, Backlit Graphics, and Metal Product Display (tree)

Custom Modular Exhibit with Slatwall, Storage, Reception Counter, Backlit Graphics, and Metal Product Display

This means that those exhibitors are investing a fifth of their full marketing budget to gather leads.

To make your trade show investment successful, you need to get the largest number of the most qualified leads.

Trade shows are unique. They are full of customers coming to your trade show booth in search for solutions.

Most shows run for only a few days, giving you a brief window to harvest as many leads as you can.

If you’re not doing all you can to take advantage on this small window of time, success is not likely.

Most companies only invest 5% of their trade show dollars on pre-show promotion, according to CEIR.

Yet, promoting your trade show booth before the show easily gives you big leg up on your competitors.

Thus, it is very important to reach out to prospects and customers before the show. This will help you earn more from your trade show appearance.

But how do you do this?

Focus on these two things:

  • Motivate traffic to visit your trade show booth, and
  • Meet with the right people.

Pro Tip – Don’t guess at who the “right” people might be!

To do it right, look at the list of visitors that have signed up for the show. And then target the best qualified visitors on that list. 

This simple trick allows you to screen prospects in advance. They might not be your best choice, but they’re the best of what is available, signed up to attend the show.

If you pre-screen them and are meeting with the best ones, they will be certainly be better qualified than the average person wandering the show.  

There are three simple, but incredibly important ways to reach prospects before the show:

1) Target your communications to folks that registered to attend the show.

Get the attendees’ list from the show organizer. Review it, and contact the attendees that meet your marketing criteria.

Reach out to them through email, regular mail and phone calls.

2) Give each person you contact a reason that benefits THEM to visit your exhibit or arrange a meeting.

Keep in mind they may want to meet with other staff besides salespeople.

Custom Laminated Wood Exhibit with Vinyl Wrap, 8 Showcases, 2 Bridge Headers, a Tapered Square Hanging Sign- and More!compressor

Custom Laminated Wood Exhibit with Vinyl Wrap, 8 Showcases, 2 Bridge Headers, a Tapered Square Hanging Sign- and More!

Larger exhibitors will want to have various kinds of staffers available. They’ll need to answer different types of questions.

Topics could include technical issues. They could also include new product developments and corporate strategy.

This means you don’t just bring salespeople. You’ll need tech’s. You’ll need marketing people. You’ll need executives.

They should stay in the trade show booth as much as possible. At the very least, they must attend at specified times.

This allows you to tell clients and prospects about the chance to meet those people. (“Visit us Tuesday from 12:00 to 3:00 PM to speak with our technicians”. “Visit us tomorrow from 3:00 to 5:00 PM to meet our VP of Marketing.”)

3) Contact everyone you know. Every current customer. And all of your current prospect files

All your customers, past and current, should know that you’re exhibiting at the upcoming show.

Naturally, tell all your hot prospects that too! Make sure there is something in your trade show booth they want to see.

And then, tell them about it, so they come see you. This is the time to “sell” your trade show appearance.

Tell them this is their chance to see your latest product. Or maybe to meet with corporate executives.

Offer invitations to the show. Give free registrations to anyone that wasn’t planning to come.

If they don’t come, be sure to send a follow-up letter that tells them what happened at the show.

This can spark interest and help serve to build relationships with these customers and prospects.

Once the show has started, what is the best way to get the most from your trade show investment?

1) Capture the right data the right way

Collecting business cards or swiping badges is ok, but isn’t great. That only gives you their contact info.

You need to gather specific info. Info that will help your sales team close the sales

You can do this with an old-fashioned paper lead card, or a new-fangled tablet device.

Either way, booth staffers need to record three vital statistics about the prospect:

  • their level of interest (“cold, warm, hot”),
  • the time they play to buy a similar solution (“immediate, 3-6 months, 6-12 months”) and
  • their purchasing responsibility (“influence, recommend, approve”).

It’s also valuable to have blank space or a couple of ruled lines at the bottom of the card (or electronic form).

Use this space for adding specific notes that will be beneficial for the person following up to know.

With this information at hand, your sales team can contact each qualified lead.

Better yet, they will know enough to take that prospect to the next step in the sales process.

And that, my friend, is what makes your trade show investment pay dividends.

Your sales team can then make the most of your trade show investment, by bringing in new customers and closing sales.

There’s something else that has a large role to play in the success of your shows: your trade show booth.

Your exhibit should  help you tell your story.

Your trade show booth should display your products and services, in an interesting and attention-getting way.

For more, read how to sell solutions in your booth or learn how to stay sane in your booth.

If your trade show booth is getting a little boring or needs some help attracting attention, give us a call at (800) 676-3976 or emailing [email protected].