By David Holland

March 4, 2022


I’ve been to more than my fair share of tradeshows, expos, and events with people.

You might say I’ve been there, done it, and got ALL of the t-shirts (and other free merch). 

The last couple of years have been a lean period for in-person events, and we’ve seen an evolution in the way a lot of expos have been conducted.

Long term, the reality is that nothing will beat the allure of walking around an expo hall and interacting with exhibitors, but there’s more to it than simply attending, getting a stand, and putting together some literature.

It’s a process, and more importantly, it’s an opportunity…

Why Should You Exhibit

As we discussed in our recent blog, lead generation is the first step to success for ANY business, and one of the best ways to generate leads is by exhibiting.

Sure, it’s not as simple as saying ‘let’s exhibit’ and then waiting for the leads to roll in, but when is anything that simple?

First thing’s first, you need to create a system to manage the leads you generate. 

Think of exhibiting like networking, except your target audience has already been distilled into the attendees, and you’re in a much more focused situation.

Rather than an open conversation, which networking tends to be, you’ve got a stand where you have something to offer, and people that stop by are already interested…

So, you’re one step ahead of the ordinary process – you’ve already got their attention. 

There are SO many exhibitions every year, which means you’ve got the advantage of being able to plan ahead and attend trade shows, exhibitions, and events where you’re more likely to find your ideal customer.

Think about it like this – if you’re selling jewellery, then a wedding fayre might be a fair shout to find potential leads.

Whereas the same jeweller might not find valuable leads at an event focused on interior design…

Basically, there’s a bit of research and work to do – but the leads are out there at trade shows, exhibitions, and all sorts of events.

How to get people to come to your stand

Once you’ve worked out where you’ll be exhibiting, the next thing you need to do is make sure people turn up to your stand.

If not, then you’re neglecting the most important part of this – generating leads.

At the end of the day, I realise that you’re in business because you LOVE sales and marketing – but there’s a problem with that…

Sales and marketing come with the territory. 

If you don’t market, you don’t get leads. And if you don’t get leads, you won’t make sales.

If you want to build a big business, you’ve got no choice but to get into sales and marketing, but if you’re doing things you NEED to do rather than things you WANT to do, it starts to feel an awful lot like a job.

And that’s not why you started your business.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – there is some good news. And I’m living proof of it.

Before I started my business, I worked in the corporate world, climbing the greasy pole for organisations like IBM, Proctor and Gamble and Kraft.

And it was then that I realised: if I could find a way of getting leads delivered consistently, without a huge level of involvement from me, things would be fine.

If I was able to regularly access people who were already interested in what it was I was selling, then I’d sell a lot more stuff.

Because you want to be in a position where you can spend time with your family, go on more holidays, focus on doing stuff you enjoy, and generally, well, not working as much.

After all, there’s more to life than work, and if you’re wiling away the hours trying to generate enough leads to keep the lights on, you might as well go ahead and get a job again.

It’s harsh, but it’s true. There’s a MUCH better way.

And it starts with getting enough people to your stand to generate those leads in the first place…

There are plenty of things you can do, and it starts by contacting the attendees of the event.

If you get in touch with the organisers of the show, you should be able to get hold of a full list of everyone who’s registered, and then you can promote yourself, your stand, what you do, and encourage people to head over to your stand.

You should also remember to promote to your existing clients, your email list/leads, and ensure you’ve got something to offer them.

That might be an interactive element where people can physically do something when they come to your stand, it might be a video or something visual, it might be something that captures their attention, or it might just be a relaxing space.

Remember, there are LOADS of stands at exhibitions and trade shows, so if you do what everyone else does, you’re just another face in the crowd.

Think about what makes your business and lean into it – stand out.

But most importantly, get your stand number, put together some marketing material (whether that’s video, PDFs, visual content, or simply a bit of value-led content) and send it to EVERYONE who’s attending and ALL of your leads. 

Capture Leads And Follow Up

It’s one thing to get people to your stand, but that’s only half of the picture.

Because once they’re at your stand, you need to have some form of mechanism to capture their data and then follow up with them.

The reality is that most people start the process of collecting leads but have no idea what to do with them.

Think about it, you know you want to generate leads from the event, but do you know what you’ll do then?

And that’s the issue – you NEED to create a system that allows you to capture the leads without having to manually input data.

So, here’s what you should do…

  • Create a landing page, a central point where your key message sits
  • Build a mechanism whereby you can capture data quickly and easily – a good way to do this is to have an iPad set up with a form so people can pop their data in quickly 
  • Have a campaign ready to follow up with all leads from the event
  • Push all the leads into the campaign

Then, once the leads have been through the follow-up campaign, add them to your main list, and nurture them.

It’s a GREAT way to supplement your lead generation, and if done right, it can make a HUGE difference to the thing that matters most – your sales.

Talk To Fellow Exhibitors

It seems simple, doesn’t it?

But consider this: your best leads could be the other people exhibiting at the trade show. 

Your best leads will always come from people that already love what you do, through testimonials and referrals, but there’s also a huge market out there…

And other business owners are ALWAYS in a better position to buy than consumers. 

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business doesn’t matter too much because your product or service will still have relevance – remember any business owner is also a consumer when they’ve not got their business hat on.

A simple conversation with a fellow exhibitor might elicit the sort of response you work for months to get from lead generation. 

The goal is to create a strategic and process-driven Sales Circuit that functions well, generates sales, and can be automated.

And talking to those around you might just provide the opportunity to cut to the chase.

About the author

Nice bloke with practical ideas. Former Procter & Gamble, Kraft and IBM sales and marketing executive. Became a business owner 20 years ago. Started multiple businesses including EXELA which is the most successful Keap® & Infusionsoft™ reseller in the EMEA region.

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