How to Generate Leads at Trade Shows


Trade shows are a great place for networking, showing off your business, and hopefully finding new customers. But there are a huge number of visitors who don’t ask questions and simply browse, while the hosts do very little to draw them in.

If you’re serious about generating leads at a trade show, here are a few tips to make your next trip your most successful.

Choose the right trade show

While you could go to just about every trade show across the country, this will very quickly reduce your productivity and take your focus away from other elements of your business. When planning an exhibit, it’s a good idea to thoroughly research the show itself, and whether it’s the best fit for your niche.

Exhibiting at shows isn’t cheap, so if you’re going to take the financial hit, it should come with huge benefits. While deciding which trade show to display at, take a look at the promotional materials provided and who else is exhibiting. This should give you better idea as to who is there, and what services people are looking for.

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There will likely be press coverage from previous years that you can find online—to gauge how popular the show actually is.

It’s also worth mentioning that bigger trade shows aren’t always better. Sure, there’ll be much higher footfall, but after people have spent hours on their feet seeing display after display, it’s unlikely any of the brands will actually stand out enough. With bigger trade shows, it can be difficult to get a good ROI, while a smaller, cheaper show often provides a more engaged visitor list. When it comes to lead generation, it’s all about quality over quantity.

Give freebies to the right people

We all love a freebie, and trade shows are one of the best places to grab yourself a spare pen, a stress ball, or a new bag. Chances are, there will be a lot of people at the trade show just for the freebies, with no actual interest in doing business with you.

But that’s not to say you shouldn’t take freebies to sweeten the deal for those who are genuinely interested. It’s just a case of being able to spot the right people.

If your business is product based, you could have a qualifying activity in which a stall visitor has to put in a preliminary order in return for some corporate chocolate gifts. Alternatively, service-based options should sign people up for a free trial or initial meeting.

Get out there

It’s always a good idea to take a small team to a trade show so that someone can be doing the rounds and generate leads at other stalls. There may be other exhibitors who could benefit from the service you provide, too.

When heading for a snack or coffee, make sure to engage with at least one group of people you think might be interested. That way, even if people don’t reach your stall, you’ll have got your name out there.

The most important point to remember is to follow up. You might have collected 10 emails or 1000 emails, but they mean nothing if you don’t follow them up.


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