Make the first impression count

So you're attending a trade show, but how do you make new business contacts and generate leads?So, your organisation has forked out for a spot at a trade show, you’ve prepared your event survival kit and you’re ready to return with a bundle of new business leads and contacts. But how exactly do you win friends and influence people in the middle of a trade show jungle?

Jade Ziola-Sammons, event specialist at Stone Junction

Your target audience and future customers are all in attendance at the trade show you’ve pitched your stand up at and you need to grab their attention. Just follow some of these simple tips and tricks to win over visitors to your stand.

Engaging the masses
Taking a step into an exhibitor’s stand can be a daunting task for attendees. It’s simple and we all know it, but things like smiling (even through the aching feet and constant noise) and standing up make you more approachable.

If you do want a one-to-one meeting with a potential lead, take it away from your stand so that you can sit down and chat with some privacy. Of course, make sure someone else is around to man the stand while you’re away.

Also, unless absolutely necessary, put your phone away when you’re working. You need to be 100 per cent available to attendees and being fixed to your screen immediately puts up a barrier that makes it look like you’re disinterested in the event.

Freebies and fun
Do something different to make yourself stand out. Freebies like pens and post-its go down well and always come in handy when people are back in the office, but the likelihood of it actually leading to a conversion or sale is low.

Doing competitions for unusual or high-value freebies, like portable phone chargers or headphones will help you stand out from the norm. Offering a tasty snack also tends to go down a treat too.

At a recent trade show, we offered popcorn to visitors at our stand and organised a daily beer-o’clock later in the day meaning visitors returned to our stand for a second time — and a second conversation!

Leverage leads
You’ve spent a few days at a trade show, gathered a bunch of hot leads…but then what? Just don’t let them go cold.

Send your new contacts something a few days after the event, but not just typical sales patter. Write up a round up of the event and send it to them and ask what their thoughts were or offer them something exclusive, like an infographic, which might help them in their own line of work.

Be sure you track your success too. By monitoring any sales conversions from the contacts you built up, you can ascertain the value of attending the show and whether it’s worth attending again.

Making a great first and lasting impression can be the difference between average and great trade show results. For more advice on making the most of attending a trade show, get in touch with me on 01785 225416 or email


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