Generating Leads At Trade Shows And Exhibitions

A lot of this blog is focused on generating leads, either on-line or through telephone based work. So far, I haven't written a post on using the incredibly powerful process of generating leads at trade shows and exhibitions within your industry. This can be a very strong component of your overall marketing strategy.

What follows is a few notes as to how you can do this, hopefully making sure that you don't waste your hard earned money by spending funds on an exhibition that doesn't deliver results. I recently helped a client run a stand at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham - it was a great success and prompted me to write this post.

Generating Leads At Trade Shows And Exhibitions
Make Sure The Exhibition Is Relevant

Of course, the first thing to do is to make sure that the exhibition you are attending is relevant to your business and also that the attendees are going to be the right kind of people for you to talk to.  The client I mentioned above chose this exhibition himself and made sure that both of the above criteria were met.

He also told me about the exhibition prior to this, which - although the trade show name sounded like it was relevant - was a failure because the delegates were not the right kind of people for him. Essentially, the first show was a waste of time and money, although the second show was a much better choice.

So, to make sure your next exhibition is as successful as possible you should:

-  Call the exhibition organisers and ask them what kind of people attend the show. Are they decision makers, or just PA's for example?
-  Call exhibitors who booked a stand at the show the previous year. What was their impression regarding the type and quality of visitor?

Make It Easy To Generate Leads

You want to make it as natural as possible to generate leads at your stand. Ideally, it shouldn't be that obvious that you are trying to gather the lead - if you ask the right questions and genuinely try to help satisfy your prospects need it should be easy for you to collect contact details and stay in touch after the show.

There are a few ways you can do this, such as:

-  Committing to finding out what you can about potential solutions to your prospects problem and say that you'll be in touch with findings within a week, for example
-  Providing a document full of relevant industry knowledge or research that can be exchanged for an email address or business card
-  Running a competition that requires an email address or business card to enter

Take Very Good Notes

Although you may feel busy and harassed at some points during the exhibition, it's really important to make sure that you maintain very good notes about prospects and their needs. Even if you think that you have a photographic memory and that you remember every single detail, you really don't want to get to the follow up stage and realise that you have forgotten key information.

It's a good idea to make a simple template with sections such as 'Name, Phone, Email, Notes' that you can attach to a clip board. In this, you can enter information as you talk to make sure nothing is lost.

Always, Always, Follow Up

Finally, one of the most neglected parts of a trade show lead generation process is the follow up. Even if you have had a successful few days at the exhibition, it will count for almost nothing if you don't follow up on the leads you have gained. Although you might think that you'll have a barrage of new customers breaking down your door in the days after, the reality is that it's your job to make sure the customer remembers you and that you will most likely have to make the first move.

So, these are the main points that came up when I was working out why the exhibition was such a success for my client. If you came across this post because you were searching for ideas on how to maximise your own exhibition, I really hope it helped!

By Alan MacDougall

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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy and tips blog designed to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.