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5 Tips for Converting Leads into Customers at Trade Shows

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April 15,2016

By Heather Wied, Pubsoft


While it can be a costly marketing activity to undertake, exhibiting at a conference or trade show is a great way to gain visibility and exposure for your product or service within a specific industry. When you factor in the cost of exhibiting and attending, plus travel expenses and accommodations if necessary, and add the cost of creating display marketing and printing collateral and giveaway items, you’re easily spending thousands for one event.

The benefit to exhibiting at conferences and trade shows is that there is an audience often in the latter stages of the product decision making and purchase process who are specifically looking to network for business opportunities and solutions to their industry problems. Also there is an opportunity to interface with people who are unfamiliar with your brand. One of the disadvantages to conference and trade show marketing is that they can sometimes be large and overwhelming for attendees. If you’re working with a small budget, as most small businesses are, you can get lost in the shuffle amidst other larger companies with bigger budgets and bigger booths. All pros and cons being taken into consideration it’s crucial to make the most of your time to gain awareness of your brand and convert as many leads into customers as possible.

We’ve compiled five takeaways we’ve learned over the years after attending conferences and trade shows:


Persistence in communication. In the time leading up to your event, start early and be persistent with your communication efforts. Reach out to potential leads via email campaigns and social media. Use the handle of the hosting organization and official hashtag term for the event if there is one to increase your odds of being shared and/or retweeted. In your communication efforts make sure to announce your location and consider incentivizing leads to stop at your booth with some kind of promotion or giveaway. Persistence in communication and repetition of your branding and messaging helps you stay top of mind during and after the trade show, and being top of mind helps your product and service be in the running during the decision making process.

Stack your schedule with back to back meetings at your booth. It is important to have a steady flow of interested parties at your booth. Having people constantly at your booth is important for two reasons 1) If your next lead comes early it’s good to have him or her see that your product or service has interest from others, which makes them more interested in you and it also lends credibility, and 2) when you are engaged with presenting your pitch or demo to someone, others walking by will often stop in and listen, or will at least take your literature if they see someone already at the booth because random passersbys want to be in on the “secret.” Getting as many leads as possible coming into the pipeline also increases your chances to convert customers.

Convert on site if possible. Depending on your product or service it may or may not be possible to complete a transaction on site. Often visitors unfamiliar with your product don’t know what is involved in terms of barriers and costs to start using the product or service. Often many individuals are ready to start using a solution as fast as possible and if the risk of starting with your product or service is low, they won’t mind completing the transaction on the spot. Having promotional pricing for trade show and conference attendees also helps to decrease the risk of trial for your potential customers.

Leverage lead generation technology that makes capturing leads easy. If converting on site isn’t possible, capturing accurate information for following up is essential. Most conferences and trade shows these days provide a lead generation capture tool associated with each attendees contact information. Although there is typically extra cost associated with lead gen tools at a conference, the data collected can be easily exported and imported into your CRM tool. Even if your particular event is not technologically savvy, remember to collect the business card or contact information of each individual who takes the time to stop by your booth.

Engage potential super users as quickly as possible. When you are face to face with potential customers it is easy to see how they react to and interact with your product. Look out for people who visit your booth multiple times, who bring others back to your booth to show them your product or service. Look for individuals who are visibly enthusiastic or ask a lot of questions. Be sure to note individuals who say things like, “I’ve been looking for something just like this,” or “wow, I really love this.” These individuals are proverbial low hanging fruit. If it’s not possible to convert these people on the spot, these leads should be at the very top of the list for following up. Individuals who get really excited about your product and service can be converted into evangelists who can perform some of your marketing work for you through word of mouth to their networks and providing you with valuable feedback for improvement.





Heather Wied is the Marketing Director for Pubsoft. Follow @Pubsoft on Twitter.





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