Most trade shows aren’t worthless, but most trade-show booths are. It’s no mystery why the average trade-show design isn’t working: In order to succeed at a trade show you not only need a better display, but also better strategies for getting people to come to your display. The thought of running around the room with a giant butterfly net, scooping up prospects against their will might have crossed your mind, but that is considered false imprisonment in 49 states — and a felony. Here are three ideas to capture leads at your next trade show that probably won’t get you arrested:
1. Butterflies of a feather flock together. Never mind the fact that butterflies don’t have feathers and scientifically speaking they don’t actually “flock.” People flock to crowds just like birds and butterflies. Always have something unique, creative and interesting that captures people’s attention and holds it, but keep it professional and legal. Yes, this last point eliminates a lot of fun options, but as we said, this post is about capturing leads without getting arrested. Here are a couple of general thoughts:
- Bring something (e.g. an animal, a celebrity, a celebrity dressed up as an animal, etc.) that everyone will gladly wait in line to have their picture taken with, and then keep that potential customer at your booth while you print and frame his picture in a frame with your logo.
- Have the latest hottest gadget (e.g. a drone, Oculus Rift, the newest golf driver with a practice area, etc.) that everyone will want a chance to play with, and will be talking about at dinner later that night.
- Provide an active challenge or competition (e.g. sumo wrestling suits, fencing or karaoke) that will draw a crowd of participants and spectators.
2. All’s fair in love and trade shows. Be proactive about getting a crowd to your booth. It’s always a good idea to have more than one person at a trade-show booth. One strategy is to take 30-minute shifts sending one person out on recon while the other person guards the base. The person out on the trade show floor can mingle with your top clients and prospects in order to get them to migrate like a flutter of butterflies (yes, a “flutter of butterflies” is the scientific term) to your booth. One idea is to have the person running recon hand out tickets for your activity or the line for your photographer.
3. Don’t let them escape. Getting people to your booth is half the battle. The other half is having a trade-show display that keeps people at your booth long enough to capture a quality lead. There are always a few companies at every trade show that expend a great deal of effort and money getting people to the company’s booth, but then have nothing of value to show the people once there. A well-balanced approach will lead to success in capturing quality leads. One quick solution is to divide your trade show budget in half: spend equal amounts on getting people to your booth and on keeping them there.
So the next time you’re sitting around at your trade-show booth twiddling your thumbs thinking about the giant butterfly net you have hidden under your table…stop! Take a deep breath, reconsider the consequences of your actions, and try one of the above ideas. Capturing quality leads at a trade show usually isn’t worth getting arrested over.