Top 10 tips to make trade shows work for you

24 October 2019

Our top 10 tips to generating leads and winning new business from trade shows, events & conferences.

24 October 2019

Our top 10 tips to generating leads and winning new business from trade shows, events & conferences

A trade show, event or conference gives your company the chance to create brand awareness, obtain new business clients, nurture existing relationships and drive new revenue. As business becomes immersed in an ever-increasing digital world, having the opportunity to meet potential prospects face-to-face is becoming more important than ever, but how can you make the most of the opportunities they offer?

According to the BrightTalk B2B Lead Generation Trend Report events, conferences & trade shows have seen a strong resurgence as one of the most effective lead generation tactics. However there are a number of important aspects to consider should you wish to use this as a marketing tactic.

Here are our top 10 tips: 

#1 Set clear goals and success criteria

Trade shows are clearly a great opportunity to see lots of prospects or customers at the same time. According to the CEIR report: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget, 81% of tradeshow attendees will have buying authority, but it is still vital to consider how you will define success.

Will it be all about gaining sales leads, or are you hoping to build partnerships, to gain product feedback or to raise brand awareness – you can of course strive for all!

#2 Do your research

Generally it will not be cheap to participate, so think strategically when planning and be clear about your business goals. Make sure you know whether your target audience will be attending (see our guide to Targeting Segmenting and Profiling).

Calculate the expected number of leads (and their potential revenue) and compare this with the cost of attending. Picking the wrong show can prove very costly to your company and your marketing budget – if the right people aren’t there, it will be difficult to justify going. Does it present a good networking opportunity? Will decision makers be in attendance? Will your existing clients be there giving you an opportunity to connect with them? Will your competition be attending – not a reason for going, but certainly a consideration.

#3 Stand location

Try to book early, the better spots go quickly – consider being near to competitors to reach your shared target audience.  Being near to food & drink outlets, on a corner or near entrances you are likely to experience more traffic.

#4 Stand design 

Look objectively at your stand design – do you stand out from the crowd? Does it fit your brand and communicate your message clearly? Avoid too many words, logos & images, by keeping it clean, straightforward & clutter free.

It doesn’t need to cost a fortune, simply having a well-designed pop-up banner and some good promotional materials will convey a polished image. Remember to think about your ROI and budget accordingly.

#5 Digital marketing

Beforehand order your printed marketing material – build private twitter lists of sponsors, speakers & reporters attending and start interacting & retweeting ahead of the event – consider creating a digital press kit – promote your attendance via social media, your blog and tag the event’s social media pages – monitor relevant event keywords using social streams on platforms such as Hootsuite or Hubspot.

Whilst at the event monitor your twitter lists and social streams to respond, interact, retweet and favourite – create blog content, pictures, videos & commentary to publicise during the event.

#6 Product knowledge & preparation

Your team should know your products inside & out, be professional & approachable – representing your brand, they are of key importance to a successful event.

#7 Network Network Network

The benefits of networking cannot be underestimated. When your stand is busy this can be easily overlooked, but it is a great opportunity to introduce yourself (and your products) to potential clients. To gain an insight into how others design their stands and engage with their prospects and of course to check out the competition!

#8 Speaking engagements 

These can be really effective and are regarded as one of the most successful tradeshow tactics for marketers. It’s not the time to do a hard sell of your product or service, but to widen your reach and consolidate your position as an expert in your field. To introduce you and your company to an audience that may not get a chance to visit your stand.

Becoming a thought leader won’t in itself help your ROI but will go some way to leverage your status. Although on the other hand positive media coverage can potentially offer a very quick return on your investment!

#9 Collect the qualified emails

It goes without saying it will be of great benefit to collect emails from your “qualified” leads. But when you get back to the office, you need to put the effort in to follow up these warm leads. Life moves on quickly and it would be wholly remiss to lose the opportunity to get in touch. Remember that any email interaction must include the appropriate “opt-in” & “unsubscribe” options for the recipients.

#10 Follow up & track

Have a follow up email ready drafted to send out that can be customised according to that prospects needs. Make sure you track the number of quality leads vs money spent vs revenue generated – it will help you determine whether you achieved a ROI and identify the most successful events that will be worth revisiting.

To summarise, multi-channel sales and marketing campaigns are the most successful and best practice implementation, whichever lead generation techniques you choose, is really important. We hope this brief insight into what is involved, when attending trade shows, events & conferences, will help you make the most of the opportunities they give you to generate leads & win new customers.

Useful Links:

Expo database: Fairs and exhibitions worldwide. Search by exhibitor and product across 20,000 tradefairs and exhibitions around the world.

Trade fair dates: Directory of worldwide trade fairs and exhibitions.

Trade events: The Department for International Trade (DIT) calendar of events includes 400 core events and missions, and 1000 opportunities across TAP “Tradeshow Access Programme” and the English National Regions. There are also detailed events websites which include more information and allow users to register for an event.

Kompass Directory: Make sure your company is registered on our market-leading global B2B directory – you can promote your business and publicise events and news

Kompass Lead Generation Package: Our flexible solution to help you find, connect & engage with new prospects in the UK and across 70 countries worldwide.

Disclaimer: Please note that this blog only contains general information and insights about legal matters. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.


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