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Trade show lead generation is the top goal for the majority of trade show exhibitors, but achieving that goal can be challenging. With so many other booths and vendors, attracting potential clients can seem like a matter of spending the most money and having the biggest, loudest display. Without an effective marketing strategy, though, that money goes to waste. A great strategy does not have to be expensive, but it should be memorable. Make the most of your investment of time and money with these lead generating tips.


Begin planning your strategy by searching for tactics that worked well for others. Gather your team for a brainstorming session to generate ideas for a visually memorable theme that is easy to fit with other aspects of marketing, such as email, press releases, and tweets. Seek to find options that are clever, creative, surprising, and non-offensive; of course, you should always make sure that whatever you plan follows the rules of the show.

Target Your Ideal Customer

Create a strategy for attracting target customers to your booth, not just large numbers of visitors. Everyone likes free stuff, but intentionally focusing your giveaways and the information you offer helps you gain attention from people who are interested in what you do. You are likely to get fewer visitors than if you give away free candy, but the people who come are more likely to appreciate what you are doing. One way to attract your target audience is to provide timely, helpful information that addresses a problem your potential clients face. Conducting research on what topics prospective clients find interesting helps you create specific, engaging information to offer visitors and makes you stand out from the typical flashy booths that overwhelm people with hype and generalities.

Select the Most Appropriate Shows

Be selective about which trade shows you choose to participate in because not all will equally benefit you. Track your leads from shows you attended in the past and determine which ones give you the best returns. Stop going to shows that are not working well and focus on ones that do. Going to fewer shows allows you to put more effort into your exhibit and promotions at the ones you do attend. Trying out new shows can also be beneficial, including shows outside your region and in other countries.

Design Your Exhibit Carefully

Your exhibit should be more than just a booth, it should be part of your message to potential clients. Making your booth distinctive so that it stands out in the crowd helps attract attention. But remember to focus on your target audience and use your exhibit to clearly say how they will benefit from stopping by. Here are a few ways to help your booth stand out:

  • Get a booth in a prime location, such as in the middle of the flow of traffic or in a corner.
  • Use lighting to highlight your display graphics.
  • Focus on a few large images and messages.
  • Choose exciting colors for your exhibit.
  • Minimize clutter by bringing only your most popular products.
  • Keep your space clean.
Check out our Design Portfolio

Before the Show

Start attracting attention before the show begins to maximize your potential lead generation. Use postcards, emails, the local media and social media to reach show attendees and start building your story before the event; be sure to include your booth number on your communications. Consider sending free tickets or other incentives to your clients and best prospects. Create interest in your booth by sending half of something to potential clients before the show and promising to give them the other half if they come by your booth. Use humor to surprise people and raise their curiosity about the show and your exhibit.

At the Show

The trade show itself is your key time to shine. Make the most of all your hard work with these ideas for attracting attention:

  • Introduce a new product.
  • Include an interactive element in your booth.
  • Appeal to multiple senses, not just sight.
  • Offer an interesting or educational demonstration.
  • Run a promotional video.
  • Give away free samples.
  • Have some kind of game, raffle or activity.
  • Offer a special discount at the show.
  • Place an ad in show literature.
  • Create brand recognition by having your staff wear company clothing.
  • Hand out company swag.
  • Give people a reason to tweet about your booth.
  • Hand out unique items, such as branded mints.

Booth Staffing

Your booth personnel make a huge difference in the success of your exhibit. Having professional staff who are excited and knowledgeable about the products and willing to engage potential clients goes a long way toward generating leads. Make sure you train your staff well and communicate with them about your goals and expectations. Prepare your staff with engaging questions for visitors, answers to common questions and a thorough knowledge of any new products. Give them frequent breaks to stay fresh, and consider offering a prize or reward to the person who gets the highest number of leads.

Outside of the Show

Your marketing strategy can extend outside of the show to continue attracting attention; just check with the show management first to make sure you are within the show rules.

Wrap Up

After the show, Nimlok Louisiana can help you evaluate the methods you used and determine which worked the best and what needs to be changed before your next show. There are many ways to get noticed, but focusing on your target audience and creating a cohesive strategy will help you build a successful exhibit and generate leads. Now that you have those leads, make sure to follow up with your potential clients. Our team of experienced trade show professionals are ready to help you make the most out of next exhibit!