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Top 6 Ways to Engage Leads at Your Next Trade Show

Posted by Jason Parkinson on 2/12/15 12:00 AM
Ed Rhee/Flickr CC
Ed Rhee/Flickr CC

Remember going to the fair as a kid? If you don’t have any fair experience, imagine this: your parents have handed you two tickets, redeemable for rides or games.

What do you put those tickets toward?

Between the ring toss, Ferris wheel, and spinning teacups, your attention is being pulled in every direction. There are lights, there’s colorful signage, and you can hear the workers calling out: “Step right up!” It’s stimulus overload.

I just returned from working with a client of ours at the SLAS Conference in Washington DC. and I felt like a dog with hundreds of different chew toys to choose from. For many trade show attendees, it’s easy to be struck with the same sense of wonderment and overwhelming indecision. There are a lot of exciting products and services and they might only have a few tickets (here, money) to put toward things they want.

How can you set up your booth, to not only attract potential clients, but also engage them and give you the best chance to make a sale?

Try these six ways to get leads to “step right up” and then stay there:

1. Giant Touchscreen Displays

Incorporating some crisp, tech-forward displays into your booth is a great way to attract attention and flex some of what you can offer if they do hire your business. A clean and interactive display shows leads that you’re organized, professional, and thorough in presentation. Having a touchscreen also allows for leads to explore your product or service in real time, giving them the ability to ask good questions on the spot and further engage.

2. Free Food

Some things aren’t complicated. As obvious as it may seem, free food is a surefire bet to draw in potential leads and keep them at your booth. It’s a standby that’s used by collegiate events, networking parties, and sometimes, family gatherings (we’re onto you, Aunt Bernice!) Try to stick to something that’s not messy and has mass appeal. Individually wrapped candy or gourmet coffee is always a strong bet.

3. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality gives each lead that approaches your booth the ability to use their own device to interact with you. For example, you can use AR to allow leads to learn about your products and services just by pointing their phone at them. This is a low-pressure way for potential customers to find out what they want to know and gives you an easy in to engage with them.

4. Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubemen (or something that grabs attention)

Seriously. There’s a reason those things have appeared in front of stores for decades. They work! Being noticed is the first step to engaging leads. They’re definitely kitschy, but deep down, everybody can agree that they’re fun, bright, and a safe conversation starter.

5. Proximity Technology

Proximity Technology allows you to start the easiest conversation you’ll ever start. Using a low-powered Bluetooth signal, you can equip your display items to talk to your leads through their mobile device. When a lead walks into your booth and casually stands near an item, their smart phone will alert them of what they’re looking at. It’s a beautifully un-intrusive way to start that dialogue and improves the chances that your lead will continue it.

6. Contesting

Similar to free food, putting some kind of prize up for grabs is a timeless and simple way to ensure that people want to visit your booth and interact on some level. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. For example, you could use a touchscreen (like one described above) to randomly select a winner. A user will be selected and alerted at random that they've won a small prize, just for interacting with your display. Or, you can put on text message trivia or a scavenger hunt. Using their phones, visitors can text in answers to trivia questions, be led around the tradeshow on a branded scavenger hunt, or even just text in their entry to a contest. It's a way to create buzz around your booth (it's also a great way to capture leads).

By incorporating these six things into your trade show booth, you’re improving your chances of engaging leads and closing a sale down the line. Remember: everybody is vying for attendees’ time, attention, and ‘tickets’. Make sure that your booth is the top destination.

If you want to talk through ideas and technology integration for your next big show, you can reach me personally at jason@onefiremedia.com or at 309-740-0345.

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