How to Maximize Tradeshow Sales

Tradeshows are among the most conventional vehicles to market your products and services. Compared with other types of marketing, they can provide a higher return on investment. This is especially true with B2B marketing, according to a new study published in 2013.

The study shows that after referrals, tradeshows are the top marketing channel for sales leads. Not only that, but they are ahead of email marketing, online marketing, advertising and direct mail. The study also reveals that after online marketing, tradeshows provide the highest return on investment compared with other promotional methods. 

Display of multiple Sunmaid raisin boxes Image Source: Tradeshow Display Ideas

Yes, they can be costly, but compared to the typical sales call, they generate leads at a lower cost per contact. For example, an industrial sales call may cost $252 to reach the prospect followed up by 4.6 calls to close the sales. Yet, the cost per lead at a tradeshow is much lower at $133 with only 0.8 follow-up calls on average to close the sale.

Therefore, if you are going to invest the necessary money to do it right, you ought to know how to maximize your sales results. Here’s how:

5 Steps to Maximize Your Tradeshow Sales

There are five essential steps to maximize your sales. These steps include:

  • Step 1: Planning
  • Step 2: Designing your booth
  • Step 3: Pre-show promotion
  • Step 4: Exhibition
  • Step 5: Post-show follow-up

Planning Your Tradeshow

Planning your event is the most important part of success. That’s because to maximize sales you need to reach your target market, engage the members of it with a powerful message and close the deal–either at the event or afterwards.

Tradeshows are not just about showing up. They are more about creating a show that will attract prospects and turn them into loyal customers of your company.

Planning your event starts with determining how to reach your target audience. You know better than anyone the characteristics of your target audience. The organizers can help you learn about the likely audience at the show. It’s your job to identify those prospects that fit your target audience and find a way to communicate with them face-to-face.

Your planning strategy includes what type of booth you’ll create, what type of information you’ll share and how you will present it. Your strategy will also include and pre and post show promotion.

Designing Your Booth

The design of your booth is perhaps the most important decision. That’s because it makes an instant first impression on each prospect that sees it. Your booth design says much about your brand. The more appealing, the more likely it will attract more prospects to visit.

There is an endless number of possibilities in how you design your booth. It takes a strong strategy, a vivid imagination and a budget. Remember this is a show, so you should treat your exhibit like a theater.

To maximize visibility across the exhibit floor, get as much height as you can. Create powerful slogans or messages that are a few words combined with colorful graphics.

Lighting is also very important to attract your audience. It can create the mood and affect the readability of your message.

The bigger the space, the more likely you’ll get more prospects to visit your booth. Inside the space you could have educational displays, interactive videos and perhaps a stage for live speaking events at scheduled times throughout the day.

Location is crucial. Choose a spot such as a corner near the entrance where more people will see you.

Sales Success Starts with Your Pre-show Promotion

Your pre-show promotion can make a big difference in the number of prospects you meet. Ask the organizer to provide you with a list of registered attendees. Send the pre-registered attendees that match your target audience criteria an email campaign, and if you have the budget, a direct mail campaign. Offer them a free gift or information of great value when they visit your booth. You could also provide a prize incentive, such as a sweepstakes to increase the response rate.

A good strategy involves scheduling one-to-one interviews between your prospects and your company executives. In fact, you could increase the number and speed of the response by limiting the number of prospects who you’ll schedule. For example, you can schedule the first 20 prospects who respond to meet with your product developers.

Another good pre-promotion strategy is to invite members of the media to visit your booth. They’ll likely write up or broadcast a story of the event and feature your company. That’s free publicity that can play over and over in markets nationwide...even months after the event.

Get Your Audience into Your Booth

The more qualified prospects you attract to your booth, the more sales you can generate. That’s why it is imperative to have a great booth with something special–such as an entertainer–that will help attract visitors into your booth.

However, your focus should be on selling, not entertaining. To help distinguish your team from your visitors it’s a good idea to have your representatives dressed in a distinctive company shirt or blazer with a logo or slogan. Be selective with whom you share any printed materials. Most of all, address your prospects’ needs and wants. What you say has a high recall. In fact, about 75 percent of what show visitors recall after the tradeshow is what company representatives told them in the booth.

A great strategy is to offer each visitor a survey of perhaps five questions in exchange for a gift that ties in with your product or service. The survey collects valuable lead information so you can follow up afterwards. Today, your survey can be in a digital format on a kiosk or tablet.

Post-show Follow-up Is Key to a Successful Event

Most of your sales and returns on investment will likely occur after the show, not during. Therefore, a big part of your planning and strategy needs to focus on follow-up marketing.

The best way to follow up is with a three-tiered campaign that includes telemarketing, email and direct mail. Remember–your focus should be on developing a relationship with each prospect. Relationships lead to customers and can boost referrals.

During your planning stage–long before the event–is when you ought to develop the campaigns. It may take between four to seven or more contacts before your prospect responds. That’s why you should develop a campaign of seven emails–each with a different message. You can send these concurrent with three sequential direct mail letters that include product information and any special promotional price with a deadline. Follow this up with postcards to remind prospects of your offer and deadline.

Plus, have your sales team call each prospect. The sooner they call, the easier it will be for your prospect to remember your company and product or service.

Use Social Media to Enhance Your Tradeshow Sales Results

Many events today use social media to keep attendees updated about events. You can use social media–such as LinkedIn–to communicate with prospects before, during and after the event. This can stimulate a greater following of your company beyond the attendees at the show. It can lead to referrals too.

A great example of boosting leads and sales at a tradeshow using social media is Criterion Machine Works, a manufacturer of accessories for thousands of machines. They used Twitter and Facebook to create pre-show demand that attracted a big reception of prospects in their booth. How will you use social media at your next tradeshow?


Eric Wagner

While Eric now focuses on internet marketing, he also has a background in web development. He loves being among the first to find out about new tech—and better yet, being a part of making that tech succeed. Eric is known to be a good listener, seeking to understand how each individual sees the world. He is a harmonizer in group settings, cultivating unity while constructing the overall goal and strategy. When he’s not busy helping i7 clients dominate the online marketplace, Eric enjoys drone videography (he’s got a UAV pilot’s license), woodworking, community service, and all things outdoors.

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