Complete Guide to Trade Show Leads + Tips for Success

Hamilton Hamilton

Trade show exhibits are typically monumental endeavors that require brands to put forth exceptional effort and time. Year after year, brands continue to invest in trade show exhibits and events, and there are many reasons why. Among the top incentives on the list is that trade shows are excellent opportunities to cultivate quality leads. However, only some people understand trade show leads. In this guide, we explain trade show leads, discuss the effectiveness of lead generation, explain how to capture leads, and share our tips for following up on leads. 

What are trade show leads?

Trade show leads are productive, rich contacts and relationships with prospective or new customers met through trade shows. Now, what is lead generation? Lead generation is the process of sparking and capturing the interests of potential customers and exchanging relevant information like contact details and interests so brand representatives can follow up to pursue long-term customer relationships and close sales. 

How effective is trade show lead generation?

The amount and quality of leads generated measure the effectiveness of a trade show. Lead generation can be effective with the right approach and follow-through because everyone at a trade show is there for a reason. Typically trade shows are attended by highly-motivated industry professionals, industry stakeholders, and representatives from other businesses that rely upon the exhibitors and are just as eager to make beneficial connections as brands are to generate leads. 

In a survey of marketers and exhibitors about the state of the exhibition industry in 2022, respondents were asked to share their feelings about the effectiveness of their trade shows. According to the results, 39% of respondents feel optimistic, and 45% feel hopeful. Only 12% of respondents reported feeling cautious, and 4% were pessimistic. While these results are promising, they are also vague. Brands can gain confidence and clarity while boosting the effectiveness of their trade shows with the right approach to lead generation. 

How to Capture Leads at a Trade Show

So, what is the most effective approach to lead generation? From our perspective, capturing leads at trade shows involves three critical steps. 

1. Establish Goals for Lead Generation 

The first step is establishing your objectives and articulating how you will measure success. Is your brand looking for a specific quantity of leads or a specific lead type? Outlining these details will help you understand how to approach lead generation on the show floor and provide insight into your progress.

2. Set Staff Up for Success 

Once you have established the goals for lead generation, you must prepare the exhibit staff. Ensure your team fully understands the brand offerings and has the skills to connect with attendees successfully. It is important to communicate the goals you established and collaborate with team members to set specific goals for their work at the event. Prepare your staff with everything they need to succeed, including clearly outlining how success is measured. 

3. Leverage Tools 

A significant part of lead generation is how the leads are actually gathered. If you still use pen and paper, it is time for an upgrade. To optimize lead generation, we created a proprietary lead capture solution. Hamilton inSIGHT is designed to capture qualifying information from every exhibit visitor on your own device, regardless of where they are engaged in the exhibit. It includes the same badge scanning and survey qualifiers as show-provided lead retrieval, plus key differentiators such as compatibility across all mobile devices, branding opportunities, on-demand reporting dashboard, lead scoring, text alerts, image capture, in-booth engagement integration, custom CRM formatting, and voice-to-text notes. Brands can use Hamilton inSIGHT to make their trade show marketing efforts pay off! 

How to Follow up on Trade Show Leads

Capturing leads is only one piece of the puzzle, as you must follow up to translate the leads into loyal customer relationships and sales. Defining who is in charge of outreach, the methods for contacting leads, and the timeline for reaching out is important for the best results. Here are three guidelines to keep in mind: 

  1. Be Professional - Every contact with your brand can potentially encourage or discourage a sale. Ensure that communications are respectful, kind, and professional. 
  2. Be Prepared - Knowing the customer's needs and wants is essential to moving the conversation forward. When you use a quality lead generation tool, exhibit staff can log pertinent lead information and questions to aid in the follow-up process. 
  3. Be Prompt - Timing is crucial. Follow up with leads as soon as the trade show ends so that the experience is still fresh in their minds. If you wait, the lead may forget or lose interest. 

Looking to learn more? We are here to help. To partner with lead generation expert, contact Hamilton today!