Trade Shows are a great way to capture leads for your business. Remember that getting the lead is the most important part of any marketing plan. You are building a list of hot prospects that are interested in your product. The best kind of lead out there.
1. Don't sit behind the booth!
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people at trade shows do. You spent a lot of money to be there. Don't waste it by sitting behind your booth like a bump on a log. Stand in front of your booth and be interactive with the people walking by. Catch their attention. Talk to them and invite them over to look at your materials. Answer questions related to your products. Don't just let them look and walk away.
Ask people that do come up to your booth if they have any questions. Ask them if they are familiar with your services or products. Engage the audience. Think about the carnies at the fair midway. You are similar to them. You don't get paid if people don't play. Now you don't have to as annoying or pushy as them but you do need to stand out and engage people so they don't just walk past your booth without talking to you. They may not even know they need your product but after you talk to them they might see a whole new light and really be interested in talking more. Guess what... That's a lead!
2. Get their name and phone number!
So what are you really at the trade show for? To get leads. If anyone tells you trade shows are just great name awareness, walk away and try not to laugh at them. Yes, that is one reason to be there but it's not the main reason. Just because they saw your booth, doesn't mean they will remember you once they've gone through two more rows of booths. You need to collect their information. If it's a Business to Business trade show, collect business cards from everyone you meet. If it's Business to consumer, have a simple form to fill out so you can follow up with them after the show.
One of the best things you can do it have a Free Report or Consumer Awareness Guide that you can mail or email to them after the show. Offer to send it to them the next day if they give you their name, email address and physical address. Now you are building your list. You now have someone specific to market to!
Offer a free giveaway item. Everyone has seen the fishbowl drawings at trade show booths. They don't do this just to get you to stop by their booth. They do it because you now have given them your contact information so they can follow up and market to you in the future. You should be doing the same. It doesn't have to be something big like a free vacation if that's not in your budget. It can be for a gift basket of your products or even as simple as a gift card to your local coffee shop. People always like the opportunity to get something for free. They will go out of their way and fill out your registration form in order to get something for free!
3. Stay to the end
It always amazes me how many vendors at trade shows stay for an hour or so and then pack up because they're bored or tired. Guess what! You paid to be there. Stick it out to the end. I've personally made more connections in the last 30 minutes of trade shows I've attended than in the entire three or four hours I've been there. This is especially important if you are in a Business to Business trade show. You can make more connections with the other vendors than the walk through traffic so don't discard the value of visiting the other vendors there also. It might be the best connection you make. You will never know if you leave after the first hour.
4. Follow up after the show
So many people I see at trade shows collect business cards or names on a list and never do anything with them. They expect that just because someone saw them at the trade show that they will call the vendor to buy something. It's your responsibility to follow up and get the sale. Not their's. This is your chance to make a great impression on them and follow up as soon as you can to set up a meeting, send them more information about you or just to ask them if they are ready to buy. Offer them a free estimate.
You just need to follow up as soon as you can and keep them in your database for future promotions.
This is how you can build a list quickly and use trade shows to build your list of prospects quickly and get the most out of any trade show you are part of.