Keeping the Focus on Your Ultimate Trade Show Goal: Generating Leads

When it comes to exhibiting at a trade show, you put a lot into attracting attendees to your booth. This could mean making sure you have a stellar staff or even making the booth itself as visually exciting or entertaining as possible. It may seem like a sufficient effort and the evidence may be in the quantity of booth visitors you attract. But how many of those booth visitors are actually turning into a source of new business for your company? That needs to be the focus when your goal is to generate leads.
The creative ways to attract people to your booth become nothing more than gimmicks and razzle dazzle if in the end you are not attracting the right people, turning attendees into leads, and converting those leads.
So first thing’s first. How do you attract the right people?
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Get the Right Kind of Attention

It is a mistake to believe the trade show experience begins on the first day of the event for an attendee. The truth is that by the time an attendee arrives, they already know who’s exhibiting and may have done research on the exhibitors they are interested in. Reaching attendees while they are preparing for the trade show increases your chances of being top-of-mind when they get to the event.
It’s imperative to stress the importance of targeting at this point.
67% of all attendees at trade shows represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies.
That, unfortunately, does not mean the entire 67% are ideal prospects for you. Your targeting needs to be narrowed down to those specific attendees who will benefit from what your company offers. You can use data to identify these companies and target them with your marketing.
The point is to reach the right people with pre-show marketing even before they arrive at the event. This will have attendees looking for your booth when they arrive or will help your booth catch their eye when passing by.
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Take Advantage of the Face-to-Face

The good news is that as you find the right prospects at trade shows, they are already interested. 92% of trade show attendees say they are looking for new products. So these prospects are looking to make purchases.You do not need to warm up these potential leads, they are as hot as leads get. Also, 82% of trade show attendees have the authority to buy. Which means the prospects you come in contact with at trade shows are most likely decision makers at their companies.
So if trade shows give you the opportunity to speak one-on-one with interested decision maker, why wait to target these prospects with a campaign later when you can secure business in person? Don’t get me wrong. You need to get badge scans and collect business cards to secure leads at your booth, but you need to consider the business opportunities beyond your booth space.
Trade shows provide the rare opportunity of having large numbers of prospects all under one roof. Take advantage of that. Create opportunities to speak to prospects e.g. a sponsored breakfast, tailor your booth to have meeting spaces, etc. These one-on-one interactions save you time and money. Converting a trade show lead to a sale costs 38% less than sales calls alone.
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Let No Lead Get Away

The Right Leads
But of course, not everyone you talk to at a trade show will buy right away. And perhaps what you sell doesn’t even work that way. And perhaps there were some great prospects who simply didn’t have the time for a conversation. Good news! With either of these groups, if you got a business card or badge scan, the conversation can continue.

Step 1: Segment Your Leads

You are working with two groups of leads here. You have those who made it clear they want to do business with you and you have those who may not have expressed interest but you collected their business cards or scanned their badges. Each group will require its own marketing strategy.

Step 2: Create a Strategy for Each Group

Your one-on-one conversations with those who clearly want to do business with you will most likely give you insight into that company’s specific needs and challenges. Having such in-depth information allows you to center your marketing efforts around what’s important to that specific company. This leads you to account based marketing where you build a campaign unique to a specific account/client’s needs.
For your business card and badge scan leads, you can enter these into your CRM and target them with a more basic campaign using multiple platforms. For example, you can match these leads’ email addresses and/or phone numbers to their Facebook profiles, which allows you to target them on Facebook.
Being creative with how you get people to your booth can attract countless booth visitors and create a memorable experience for attendees. But that effort is wasted if you are not attracting the right people and turning those people into leads. If your goal for exhibiting at a trade show is to generate leads, then every step of your trade show strategy needs to align to that goal.