There is a reason 29% of U.S. companies increased their trade show budget in 2017: trade shows provide companies a heaping helping of potential buyers. And thanks to the nature of these events, trade shows are great for building face-to-face relationships with buyers you might not meet otherwise. The key to a “successful” trade show exhibit, then, is figuring out how to grow your sales pipeline with new contacts.
Are B2B Trade Shows Worth It?
It’s understandable why companies might question the ROI of exhibiting—after all, it costs a lot of time and money to set up a booth and staff it—but there is some very good evidence that points to the effectiveness of trade show marketing for B2B companies.
The best trade show statistics come from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR):
- 91% of attendees say that trade shows impact their buying decisions
- 82% of trade show attendees have buying authority
- 79% of attendees say that attending trade shows helps them decide on what products to buy
- Trade show visitors will tell 6+ people about their experience
So, regarding the BIG question (“Are B2B trade shows worth it?”), the answer is undeniably yes. The next question, however, is far more important: How do I get leads at a B2B trade show?
Here are some tips and best practices to help make sure your exhibit is a success.
B2B Trade Show Tips
Choose the right event
The first and most important consideration for getting trade show leads is to make sure you attend the right event. The last thing you want is to spend thousands of dollars exhibiting at a trade show, convention, or conference that doesn’t attract the types of visitors you’re looking for—or worse, the types of visitors who aren’t interested in the solution you provide.
Most trade shows provide information about what kind of people attend, what the attendance was like in years past, and the types of companies that exhibit. Do your homework to ensure the event’s target audience matches yours and you’ll already overcome one of the biggest hurdles in generating quality B2B trade show leads.
If you’re still in the process of deciding which trade show or conference to attend this year, we’ve put together a list of the top B2B trade shows and conferences in the technology and healthcare industries:
Staff your booth carefully
The second most important decision is who will work your trade show booth. Ideally, your booth should be staffed with sales reps who can speak intelligently and convincingly about your offerings. Whoever you decide to bring, they need to be exceptional brand representatives who know your solutions inside and out.
Booths staffed with personable and assertive people will have far greater success (in this case, “success” is measured by the amount of leads generated) than those with disinterested and unapproachable staffers.
Incentivize your staff
“Gamification” is a technique in which everyday tasks are placed in a game-like context to encourage participation and performance. You can apply this same principle among your sales team (or whoever staffs your booth) in an attempt to increase the number of contacts they make during the event.
Tracking their progress encourages healthy competition and gives you visibility regarding your best “lead generators” and the most effective lead capture tactics—important information that can help immensely when planning your next trade show exhibit.
Look for speaking opportunities
Hosting an information session or participating in a panel discussion will introduce you to an audience who might not otherwise find their way to your booth. More importantly, it will help position you as a thought-leader in your field, which is good for your brand and the solutions you are trying to sell.
Keep in mind that this is not the forum to explicitly sell your company, but rather an opportunity for you to speak on a topic that’s relevant to your industry. Of course, make sure you invite the audience to your booth to learn more about your company and offerings.
Prove your solution
B2B trade show attendees are looking for solutions that best meet their needs, so you should focus on creating an experience around your brand and solutions that convey your key value propositions.
Live demonstrations, video testimonials, and case studies are all great ways of proving your solution and generating interest—and the more interested attendees are, the more likely they are to give you their contact information to take the next step.
Use the power of social media
Twitter is a powerful tool that can help drive more traffic to your booth and generate better leads. Most large trade shows and conventions have a Twitter hashtag for the event. Have someone monitor this event-specific hashtag and interact with attendees who use it to tell them more about your solutions and invite them to your booth to learn more. You can also leverage social media to post giveaways or contests intended to drive more attendees to your booth.
Convert Tradeshow Leads with a Follow-Up Campaign
In order to turn tradeshow contacts into satisfied customers, you need a fast, responsive, and timely follow-up campaign. That’s where Intelemark comes in.
After the event, our skilled agents will reach out to these new prospects and ask the right questions to determine their level of interest. Our agents will also make sure these prospects are the right people you should be talking to; If they aren’t, we will find out who the decision-makers are and try to get you in touch with them so you can build your sales pipeline with qualified leads. Intelemark can also reach out to prospects before the event to help drive attendees to your booth.
Learn more about our trade show support and direct response follow-up campaigns.