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Today’s Event Marketing post comes to us from Mike Thimmesch of www.skylinetradeshowtips.com.  Mr. Thimmesch offers great advice on lead generation for your trade show:

100 Trade Show Lead Generation Ideas

May 01, 2010 | Mike Thimmesch

For most exhibitors, lead generation is their #1 reason for exhibiting at trade shows.  Exhibit marketers want leads to replenish their sales pipeline, bring in new and repeat customers, and generate sales revenue.

So to help stoke the lead generation fires, here are 100 ideas to get you more leads at your upcoming trade shows, divvied up among 5 main areas:

Get more trade show leads by how you select shows

  1. Go to more trade shows outside your local region
  2. Go to more trade shows, in your best vertical markets
  3. Go to more trade shows, in foreign countries
  4. Go to fewer trade shows, but put more effort into booth staff preparation and promotions for each remaining show
  5. Exhibit at trade shows where your buyers are
  6. Track leads to determine and expand in the shows with the best ROI
  7. Evolve show selection to match changes in company’s best vertical markets

Get more trade show leads with your exhibit design

  1. Get a bigger booth
    1. Get a booth space closer to the hub of traffic, or by a bigger competitor
    2. Get a corner booth space
    3. Backlight your trade show display graphics
    4. Design your exhibit to more boldly and clearly say why attendees will benefit from working with you
    5. Put fewer elements on your exhibit, but make the remaining images and messages bigger and more concise
    6. Use graphics with images and benefits that appeal more directly to attendees at your vertical market shows
    7. Put benefit statements on your trade show exhibit graphics
    8. Replace your tired old display with a new trade show exhibit
    9. Make your exhibit architecture more inviting to enter
    10. Pick more exciting colors on your exhibit
    11. Bring fewer products, such as only your most popular products, to minimize clutter
    12. Get a taller exhibit
    13. Add more lighting
    14. Put messages on your flooring
    15. Avoid an exhibit that looks like everyone else
    16. Keep your booth neat and clean throughout the show
    17. Move interesting equipment and technology to the outside of the booth
    18. Use a theme that gets attention and memorably ties into your competitive advantage or offering
    19. Match your exhibit message to your other marketing materials

Get more trade show leads with pre-show promotions

  1. Send an inexpensive postcard offering a free gift in your trade show booth
    1. Run a banner ad on the show website
    2. Send a pre-show email blast to your clients and top prospects located close to the show location
    3. Put stickers with booth location and show info on all outgoing mail
    4. Email invitation to a pre-show microsite with targeted messages and offers
    5. Have your sales people invite their prospects to visit your booth and set up meetings in advance
    6. Send an email invitation to the show’s pre-registered attendee list for this year, and the registered attendee list from last year
    7. Use social media to reach more attendees
    8. Send half of something of value to attendees before the show, and promise to give the other half in your booth
    9. Contact your industry press and tell them about the innovative new product you will be introducing at the show
    10. Put your booth number on all your pre-show promotions: email, mail, ads, website
    11. Design more creative and compelling pre-show promotions to cut through the mailbox clutter
    12. Invite top prospects to lunch or dinner at the show
    13. Send a pre-show promotion offering a more valuable gift in the booth, but not to the entire list, but only to the subset of show attendees that match your target audience
    14. Send free tickets to the trade show to clients and best prospects
    15. Post your trade show schedule on your website with a link to sign up for appointments
    16. Ask the show for additional promotional opportunities

Get more trade show leads with at-show promotions and activities

  1. Introduce a new product at the trade show
    1. Add motion to your exhibit
    2. Offer food, especially if it smells good, like baking cookies
    3. Offer drinks to your booth visitors
    4. Give your attendees something entertaining and fun to do
    5. Do an engaging demo in your booth
    6. Get your client to hold your product
    7. Go beyond sight to appeal to attendees’ sense of smell, sound, taste, and touch
    8. Add interactivity
    9. Run presentations or video loops on large video monitors
    10. Offer healthy food, not just candy
    11. Put out a candy or chocolate dish to slow down attendees long enough to engage them
    12. Offer in-booth massages
    13. Give a free sample of your product
    14. Give a free sample of a product made with your product
    15. Hire a celebrity for your booth, where the celebrity is popular with your target audience at the show
    16. Hire a celebrity lookalike for your booth, where the celebrity is popular with your target audience at the show
    17. Giveaway something useful to your target audience
    18. Hire a performer, such as a magician, to attract attention to your booth
    19. Have a raffle, sweepstakes, money machine or a game
    20. Hold a press conference if you have newsworthy news
    21. Sponsor something highly visible at the show
    22. Have a contest for attendees in your booth
    23. Get signage in the show hall promoting your booth presence
    24. Offer a show special or discount
    25. Get someone from your company to be a speaker at the show
    26. Give presentations or educational sessions in your booth
    27. Do door drops that target only show attendees at their hotel rooms
    28. Pay to include an invite or a gift in the official show bag each attendee gets
    29. Put an ad in the show book
    30. Brand your staffers with outfits or similar attire
    31. Offer one really big prize (worth thousands of dollars) to get more attention

Get more trade show leads with better booth staffing

  1. Bring more booth staffers
    1. Bring booth staffers who actually want to be there
    2. Hold a contest to reward the staffers who take the highest quantity of qualified leads
    3. Leave your wallflowers at home
    4. Train your booth staff how to work a trade show booth
    5. Communicate to your staff the company’s goals and your expectations of them in the booth
    6. Don’t use booth staffing as a training ground for brand-new employees
    7. Ask visitors open-ended questions and listen to their answers
    8. Get faster at recording each lead by not writing down every visitor’s name and address, but instead using a badge scanner
    9. Have enough badge scanners to avoid lines with your booth staffers in busy times
    10. Bring crowd gatherers (not booth babes)
    11. Smile
    12. Keep your booth staffers fresh by giving them regular breaks
    13. Learn to more quickly disengage with unqualified attendees
    14. Thoroughly train your booth staffers on the new products you are introducing at the show or just introduced recently
    15. Make friends with your neighboring exhibitors, and refer attendees back and forth
    16. Bring your top management to booth staff, and tell attendees they will be there
    17. Get staffers out of the bowels of your booth and out to the edge of the aisle
    18. Don’t sit down in your booth, unless you are talking with visitors
    19. Don’t hide behind tables
    20. Instead of giving away literature, offer to mail it to attendees, and get their contact info
    21. Prepare your booth staffers with several good engaging questions
    22. Arm your booth staffers with answers to common objections

100.Train your booth staffers to know your products and how they solve your clients’ problems

Which of these 100 ideas will you choose?  Perhaps you are already doing several yourselves.  Some can be combined to be used simultaneously.  It’s a long list, and there’s no way anyone can do all 100.  Some of them even contradict each other.

Yet as Bob Milam advises, while knowing a lot of tactics is useful, knowing which tactics to use and when to use them is even more useful.  Determine your strategy first, then choose among these trade show tactics the most appropriate ones to support your strategy and generate more leads.

Also, while I’ve listed many tactics to get more leads, of course you need to also strive for getting higher quality leads.  And if you can do both, go to the head of the class.

Stay tuned for future relevant Event Planning, Event Management, Event Marketing, Exhibit Sales and Sponsorship Sales content.

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