50 Ideas To Generate Trade Show Leads

Posted by Exhibitor Source on Dec 21, 2017 11:30:00 AM
Exhibitor Source

Most of us who go to shows go there with the intent of generating leads (at least partially). According to the Center For Exhibition and Industry Research, the #1 reason that exhibitors attend shows is to generate leads. As marketers, we desire to fill our sales pipeline, shorten the sales cycle, drive repeat customers and find new opportunities.

In order to get the creative juices flowing, we have assembled some of the best ideas we have seen demonstrated from our clients and from success stories we have generated. Following are 50 ideas to get you more leads at your upcoming trade shows (broken down to 3 categories): 



1. Survey your clients and ask them what shows they are attending, then compare against your show schedule.  A pattern will emerge that will allow for you to take action.

2. Attend fewer shows, however increase effort on the shows you are going to by preparing the staff with booth staff training.

3. Increase your brand presence by going to large national shows.

4. Go to more vertical markets shows where you perform best.

5. Modify your show selection if needed, based on comparing shows against where the best vertical markets are found.

6. Scout out international shows and determine if there are any that you should attend.

7. For the additional shows and larger shows use pre-show promotions to inform your attendees of your desire to connect.

8. Measure your ROI on leads and figure out which shows are yielding the best returns.  Tracking things like cost per lead or cost per demonstration can allow you to compare large shows against small shows and determine the best areas of return.

9. Avoid selecting spaces on the far left side of the show hall.  Statistically this is one of the worst places because most people turn right and don’t make it to the left side.

10. Select a space closer to the center of where the main traffic is flowing.

11. Position your space by a bigger competitor.

12. Find a corner booth space instead of an inline.

13. Avoid the very front spaces by the front door – no one likes the crowds.

14. Avoid selecting spaces by the necessities, such as bathrooms and café areas.

15. Avoid spaces that are by large support columns.  The column is never where it is supposed to be located.


16. Increase the square footage in booth space.  It is the number one reason people remember your company, behind your booth staff.

17. Create an experience for your attendees, rather than just an interaction.

18. Incorporate capturing the correct information (not just a badge scan) into your activity to make the follow up after the show easier for your sales staff.

19. Employ activities in your exhibit space that are highly memorable to the attendees.  This will also make it easier for your sales staff to follow up on after the show.

20. Keep your positioning statements or bullet points to less than 5-6 words and avoid the words that have become meaningless to attendees.  Words like Quality, Customer Service, Leader, Productive, etc.

21. Utilize some of the more current interactive media to set yourself apart, but be sure to get staff buy in prior to the show.

22. Backlighting your exhibit graphics can draw the eye of the attendee.

23. Design your messages contained in your graphics to say why attendees will benefit from working with you.

24. Less is more… put fewer words and fewer images on your exhibit, but make the remaining images and messages bigger and more concise.

25. Make graphics relevant to the attendee.  Use graphics with images and benefits that appeal more directly to attendees at your vertical market shows.

26. Put benefit statements woven into your graphics.

27. Incorporate more lighting from the ceiling or other parts of the exhibit.

28. Avoid an exhibit that looks like everyone else.

29. During the show, keep your booth neat and clean throughout the show.

30. Move interesting equipment and technology to the outside of the booth space.

31. Use a theme that gets attention and memorably ties into your competitive advantage or offering.

32. Match your exhibit message to your other marketing materials.

33. Open up your space and make your exhibit architecture more inviting to enter.

34. A vibrant color pallet for your exhibit will help draw attention.

35. Minimize clutter in your booth space, bring fewer products, such as only your most popular products.

36. Make sure your brand is as high as possible at the show.

37. For your VIP attendees consider giving away ½ of a premium give away and they can get the other ½ at the exhibit space.  Such as give away 1 ear ring or 1 cuff link and they can get the other ½ when they visit the exhibit space.

38. Attach stickers with booth location and show info on all outgoing mail.

39. Send an inexpensive postcard offering a free gift in your trade show booth.


40. Purchase a banner ad from the show for the show website.

41. Send a pre-show email blast to your clients and top prospects located close to the show location.

42. Email invitation to a pre-show microsite with targeted messages and offers.

43. Have your sales people invite their prospects to visit your booth and set up meetings in advance.

44. Send an email invitation to the show’s pre-registered attendee list for this year, and the registered attendee list from last year.

45. Utilize a social media plan to reach more attendees and contain cost

46. Contact your industry press and tell them about the innovative new product you will be introducing at the show.

47. Make sure to put your booth number on all your pre-show promotions: email, mail, ads, website.

48. Share free tickets to the trade show with clients and your best prospects.

49. Post your appointment schedule for the trade show on your website with a link to sign up for time slots.

50. Ask the show for additional promotional opportunities.

Hopefully a couple of these 50 ideas will help add to driving leads at shows?  This is a long list, and there’s no way anyone can do all 50 of these ideas.  Some of them even work against each other. 


This article was inspired by "100 Trade Show Lead Generation Ideas" by Mike Thimmesch

Topics: Insider, social media, Nashville trade show marketing, marketing, trade show marketing, trade show leads, sales leads

Tactical Engagement-2

Click Here for Your Free eBook

Decide on the right tactics for attracting attendees to your trade show booth by gaining understanding of the relationship between the attendee and you, the exhibitor.

Key Takeaways Include:

  • Paralysis by analysis is a very real thing.
  • Who's at the end of the colored carpet?
  • What's the perfect promotion?

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag

See all