From Snore to Give Me More: Top 3 Ways to Get More Leads at Trade Shows
Let’s face it: trade shows are tough. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of exhibitors. Your industry competitors are all around you, sometimes as far as the eye can see. All of us who have worked conferences know the feeling: you’ve put weeks and weeks of preparation into this event, and now it’s time to deliver. You arrive early, set up, get your morning caffeine fix, and you’re ready to go.
Potential customers file into your booth. They smile and nod, look around, and…leave. One after another. The ones who do stop and chat don’t seem interested in giving you their name, e-mail, or other contact information. You need these leads. Maybe this is your biggest trade show of the year. Maybe events like this are your sole source of warm leads for your business. You’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars to be here, but you’re not making the conversion and getting prospects to actually commit.
Never fear: we have the top tips for how to get more leads at trade shows.
1) Memorable Engagement
Engagement is important at booths. Everyone knows that a boring booth means a bored prospect, and a lost customer. But what’s more important than engagement? Memorable engagement. Conference and trade show attendees have visited dozens, sometimes hundreds, of other booths. They’ve been engaged in the same, mundane way, over and over. So what can you do to make your booth stand out? Not just to get people into your booth in the first place, but to keep them stimulated once they’re there?
Consider something unorthodox. Try engaging attendees in a conversation about an issue they’re facing with their business that you can help them solve. When they’ve named it, have them write it in marker on a balloon. Talk them through the solution that you offer. Once you’ve convinced them that your company can solve the problem for them, collect their info and turn them into a lead. But before they leave: have them pop the balloon! That big problem is no more. The sound of the balloon popping–and the laughter that’s bound to follow–will draw more attention to your booth.
Branded swag is another great way to gather prospect info and generate leads. But not just any branded swag. Everyone has stickers, pens, and stress balls. Think outside the box. Consider a USB charging cable for attendees who have forgotten theirs. Attending a conference in Seattle? Offer umbrellas with your company logo. When you get a warm lead that you know you can convert into a sale, these kinds of promotional giveaways are a small expense that show how much you appreciate your soon-to-be new customer.
2) Give Them Amenities
One of the biggest problems we see with company booths at trade shows is surprisingly simple. Companies spend a huge amount of time and energy worrying about their customer-driven marketing strategy. They try to take into account all of their potential customers’ preferences, needs, and wants, and hone their products and messaging based around that data.
But then, when they set up their booth? It’s all about them. Company branding everywhere, literature, iPads and laptops to take down prospect info, the list goes on. What about the prospects themselves, though? After hours of wandering an exhibitor hall, do you think they just want to stand in place while they hear their hundredth sales pitch of the day?
Try going beyond for your attendees: give them something that other booths don’t. Give them amenities. People are hungry and thirsty: provide water and snacks. If the event has no WiFi (or the connection is less than reliable), offer a hotspot for them to use. Consider leasing an affordable cell phone charging station, so that your prospects can plug in their device for a bit to charge. This has the added benefit of creating a captive audience in your booth.
3) Presentation Is Everything
Trade shows are exhausting, and sometimes it feels like going all out with presentation is just too much work. Is it really worth it to spend all of the extra time and energy involved in setting up the sharpest, most aesthetically interesting booth in the exhibition hall?
Yes. Yes it is. Trust us: you’re spending thousands of dollars to be here, and you need these leads. Operate on the assumption that your competition will have the most amazing, engaging, beautiful booths you’ve ever seen. And assume that those booths will be on either side of you. Spend time creating a visual appearance that attendees will remember. Don’t use plastic table tops, cheap tablecloths, and drab colors. Think outside of the box, and create the booth that your attendees will talk about that night at dinner. Make it colorful, make it beautiful, but most of all: make it memorable.
We know how hard tabling at trade shows. But if you follow these tips, you’ll pull in more leads than ever before–and maybe you’ll even be looking forward to that next event.