This is a common issue amongst people we speak to with many people sick of tyre kickers collecting freebies and not being the right audience for their offering. Here are a few things you can do to turn your exhibitions into a serious lead generation tool.


This alone, is one of the single biggest factors in gaining attention at a trade show. By speaking directly to your audience you quickly sort the boys from the men and when done right, you’ll find visitors pre-qualify themselves before wasting your time. (see pic) This billboard in Silicon Valley is one of my favourite examples of this. To most people it means nothing, but to those who read code, it says “Red Bull gives you wiiings”. Clever. How can you alter your messaging to mean more to your target market?

Red Bull gives you Wiiings


Everyone loves something for free, but ask yourself if this is actually adding value? If not, is there a way you can upgrade the experience so it does? Or would you be better using a different giveaway? Or none at all? Depending on what else you have going on in your booth, sometimes its just overkill.

Train your staff

Have you ever been stuck talking to someone that isn’t a potential customer, only to watch someone you actually want to talk to stroll right by your booth? Learn to qualify quickly and have a system to manage visitor interactions. Do you have enough staff? The right staff? The quality of your conversations at a show will be a direct reflection on your success. It’s 100% worth thinking about.


Is your stand layout discouraging people from walking onto your exhibit? Do you have any barriers to entry? Is it too bright? Too noisy?

Set the expectation

Use pre-show marketing to drive behaviours. Get creative with this! It doesn’t mean you have to ask for orders, I know a lot of my clients have long lead times for their products, but they still create the expectation that their customers need to see them at a show. You want people to seek you out to learn/play/be entertained /discover/win… you get the idea. Offer then something they can’t get anywhere else. Make it enticing and then promote the hell out of it!

At the end of the day, 83% of people who attend a show can influence the buying decision. Even if the show is a flop, forget what’s happening around you and focus on what you can do to make the most of what you’ve got. I’ve had clients at shows that didn’t get a great turnout, with their neighbouring exhibitors complaining about the organiser and practically playing cricket in the aisles, but because they had a game plan (unlike their fellow exhibitors) they still end up having a brilliant show and took more orders than expected. They aren’t lucky. They planned.

It’s easy to buy into what else is happening around you, but I challenge you to make a real go of it. You’ve invested the money in going anyway. Why not humour me and let me know how you go!