Lead Generation: How To Get The Most Out Of Trade Shows


Floor space. Displays. Travel expenses. Personnel. The cost of trade shows can really add up. But when done right, the benefits of trade show displays outweigh the expense.

Patty Parobek, Director of Integrated Marketing Strategy
January 15, 2020

When your company is an exhibitor at a trade show, it gives your brand the opportunity to meet prospects face-to-face, capture leads and close sales.

Here’s how to make the biggest impact with your event marketing.

Have an Event Marketing Plan

Believe it or not, creating the trade show booth itself is the easy part. What you do pre-show and post-show makes the difference. But those activities are often overlooked. That’s why we suggest treating a trade show booth as just one part of an overall B2B marketing plan.

A trade show is a top-of-funnel activity that focus on creating awareness. When done right, an integrated event marketing plan guides prospects from that initial stage of awareness through interest and consideration to a final purchase.

Pre-Show Emails

To make a big impact, begin marketing before your feet hit the trade show floor.

Email marketing is the cornerstone of trade show amplification. It’s a great tool to increase reach and engagement. Plus, email is an effective way to build lists and generate sales leads.

We recommend sending pre-show emails to two different prospect lists:

Company-Owned Email Lists

Before the trade show, send emails to current customers. Let them know you’ll have a trade show display at the event. Plus, highlight some of your top products or services. But most importantly? Use pre-show emails to schedule meetings with customers during the show. (More on that later.)

Trade Show Email Lists

These emails are all about awareness. Messaging should be broad and focus on brand benefits and the overall offering. The idea is lead generation and increased brand consideration. It’s also to set up one-on-one meetings with prospects during the trade show.

Pre-Show Targeted Ads

Use advanced segmenting and look-a-like targeting to get ads in front of prospects most likely to attend the trade show. The ads drive prospects to a landing page with brand and product information. Messaging convinces prospects to opt-in to receive emails and use an online meeting scheduler.

Pre-Show Meeting Scheduler and “Hook”

Use pre-show email marketing to drive customers and prospects to an online meeting scheduler. It gives people a reason to attend your booth and engage in conversation.

You may need an extra “hook” to get people to sign up. This could be a live demo, hands-on training, VR experience or special offer.

Your landing page with the scheduler and hook is one of the first interactions with prospects. Make it mimic what you’re doing at the trade show. This creates a seamless experience with prospects – pre-show, at-show and post-show.

At-Show Marketing

It’s important to focus on lead generation pre-show. But you can drive prospects to your booth during the show too.

One way is with geo-fencing. Use persona targeting with geo-fencing around the convention center and nearby hotels. Ads appear on your target audiences’ laptops and mobile devices. Use messaging with a “hook” or promise of a one-on-one meeting to drive attendees to your booth.

Post-Show Emails

You emailed customers and prospects. Tons of people showed up at your trade show booth. You had awesome conversations. But it’s not time to relax quite yet.

Send post-show emails to everyone who attends your trade show booth. This includes the list captured during the event.

Email messaging will vary based on the needs and interests of attendees. All of that should be tracked during your trade show interactions. This makes segmenting lists easy.

The post-show emails remind people about the products and services your brand offers. It’s also a great way to build out lists of sales leads for future communications.

Post-Show Targeted Ads

Use retargeting ads for two weeks after the trade show. Target ads at prospects who visited the landing page but didn’t schedule a trade show meeting or opt in for emails.

Retargeted ads increase brand awareness and sales leads while the trade show is still top of mind.

Tracking and Measurement

Measurement and reporting provides more than benchmarks. It’s the only way to understand if your trade show efforts work. Here are common metrics we recommend tracking:

  • Email – Track standard metrics (sends, opens, clicks) to test effectiveness with the audience.
  • Targeted Ads – We look at impressions (reach). But tracking clicks is more important. Track how many email opt-ins and scheduled meetings stem from the targeted ads. Also consider a special “redemption” offer that can measure effectiveness of geo-fenced ads.
  • Landing Page – Track all on-page interactions (page views, form completions, downloads). Great tools include Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics. You’ll see which parts of the website performed best and what could use some work.
  • Meeting Scheduler – Track links to see how people get to the online scheduler. Also track how many people show up to their scheduled meeting.

Data shows patterns. When you see them, you understand the customer’s journey from awareness to conversion. You can then apply those learnings to your next trade show.

Data shows patterns. When you see them, you understand the customer’s journey from awareness to conversion.

Test and learn. Over and over. Develop an integrated event marketing plan. Then, use tracking and measurement to improve performance. If you need help with B2B lead generation at your next trade show, we’re always here to help.

With 10+ years of experience in marketing, Patty specializes in search, lead generation, and a customer-first strategy across the holistic buyer journey.

Patty Parobek, Director of Integrated Marketing Strategy

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