8 Ways to Improve Lead Generation at Trade Shows

Many business owners see great value in exhibiting—and it’s up to marketers to know the best strategies for lead generation at trade shows. But the problem is handling all the logistics can distract them from their goal of getting quality leads.

Many business owners see great value in exhibiting. Which means it’s up to marketers to know the best strategies for lead generation at trade shows. But the problem is handling all the logistics can distract them from their goal of getting quality leads.

Overcoming the hurdles of the exhibit process is a big challenge. From booking flights and hotels to making sure your exhibit arrives on time, there’s a lot to do. And if you make it to the show in one piece, you might just find your competitor two booths over is launching a product just like yours.  

To get the best exhibit experience possible, follow these 8 practices to improve lead generation at trade shows. 


1. Make sure your target audience is going to be at the show 

This is essential to any marketing campaign whether it be digital or face-to-face. Here’s a simple process for making sure the right audience will be there:  

  • Know who your buyers are 
  • Get a copy of the show’s prospectus (usually on their website) 
  • Talk with show management about last year’s attendance 
  • Take a poll on social media to see if your customers will be there 

Now all that’s left is figuring out if there will be enough prospects to nurture into leads. Prospects are people who fit your buyer profile but who may not know you exist. Leads are people who fit the buyer profile and are interested in your specific products or services.  

Use this resource for finding quick information on thousands of trade shows. Click here to access the Trade Show Search Tool. 

2. Set realistic goals for how many leads to capture 

Most shows have designated exhibiting hours. This means exhibitors have limited time. Which means they have limited means of reaching a lot of prospects.  

After deciding a show has your target audience you must decide the best strategy for reaching the largest number of prospects possible. This might mean investing in a larger booth space or bringing more staff.

3. Train booth staff  

This is the single, most effective—and cost-effective—strategy for generating leads at trade shows. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that 80% of attendees remember booths based solely on their interactions with the booth staffers.  

There are several problems that can occur when trying to train your staff. For example, your salespeople taking offense they need “training” or managers might just assume they don’t need to prepare. What should be a great team building exercise can divide. 

Click here for a helpful blog that will guide you through the process.  

4. Contact attendees before the show through email and social media  

This is a vital tactic. Show floors are filling up with competitors faster than they are filling up with attendees. A pre-show strategy is essential for generating leads at trade shows. We recommend: 

  • Making a social media plan for posting news about the show 
  • Sending marketing emails and 1:1 emails to show lists about your presence at the show  
  • Thinking about writing a press release about your expected booth  
  • Invite prospects for an exclusive booth tour a day before the show starts  

Because we believe this is so crucial to your success, we’ve created a free whitepaper that breaks down this process that includes a marketing email template. Click here to get your free template.  

5. Pick a strategic booth location  

Here’s a list of high-traffic booth locations:  

  • Main entrance 
  • Exits 
  • Bars 
  • Food courts 
  • Sponsorship areas 
  • Intersection of two aisles

When it comes to picking a strategic booth location, remember this: a full booth is only good if it’s full of leads. If being in a high-traffic location means bringing in people who aren’t prospects, then it’s better being somewhere else.  

Imagine being trapped in a conversation to a person who isn’t interested in your business while the right prospects walk past your booth. Now, if your business is more business-to-consumer, then reaching as many people as possible makes sense. The key is to strategize.

FREE WHITE PAPER Download our white paper "Demystifying Trade Show ROI"

6. Use exciting promotional items  

The harsh reality is that most SWAG (stuff we all get) items go straight to the dumpster after the show. The key to using exciting promotional items is not investing in better toys. Picking the right SWAG goes back to understanding your prospect.  

Some unique SWAG we’ve seen recently are self-care kits, donations, and green giveaways. Make your promotional items relevant and try to solve a micro problem for your prospect.

7. Design an eye-catching exhibit  

Exhibit design is not easy. You want to communicate what makes you unique clearly and make it attractive at the same time. Generally, the three pillars of any effective exhibit design are:

  • Large format graphics  
  • Backlighting 
  • Movement

We recommend checking out what other exhibitors are doing on the show floor to get ideas. Start by looking right here.  

8. When something works, keep doing it  

The only way to know which tactics work best is to try a few and see which one’s work. When something brings results, rinse and repeat. If something doesn’t work, drop it and move on. Make smart choices according to the data you collect after the show.  


Separate yourself from the pack  

If you’re still overwhelmed by the process of leading an exhibiting strategy, think about reaching out to industry professionals for help. The Trade Group offers free consultations to help you get the traffic you want. Contact us below!  

The Trade Group  is a full-service trade show and event marketing company. We will work with you to create an exhibit that helps with lead generation at trade shows. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585. 

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