7 Creative Demand Gen Tactics to Drive Trade Show Booth Traffic

Even in this digital age, trade shows are still a core part of many B2B marketers’ 2017 demand generation plans. Generating maximum return from that investment, however, requires careful planning, and close attention to both pre-show and post-show communications strategy.

In a previous post, I discussed key strategies for following up with trade show leads. Here are 7 ideas for increasing booth traffic and lead volume at the show:

booth traffic1. Direct Mail – sure, it’s more expensive, but guess what: relatively few B2B companies use mail, so there’s less competition. Plus, as a physical medium, direct mail provides creative options to drive booth traffic and track response – for example: “be one of the first 50 people to bring this postcard with you to our booth and get a free [insert free gift here].” (Tip: always limit response; it caps your expense and drives urgency.)

2. Invite, don’t Promote – if you’re presenting scheduled demos at the show, or if one of your executives has a speaking slot, invite people to the event as you would a Webinar, i.e. with date, time, location at the show, “what you’ll learn”. Make the call to action an “add to calendar” link or design a custom landing page promoting all your events at the show and how to sign up. (Offer an additional incentive to people who pre-register.)

3. Email Signatures – design a custom HTML email signature banner promoting the show and provide it to your sales, pre-sales, and customer support team, along with instructions on how to add the signature in popular email clients. Signatures can be an extremely effective (and free!) channel to generate awareness for an upcoming show, particular to your customer base and current prospects.

4. Google AdWords – place ads on AdWords using the show name (and variations) as keywords. Develop a custom landing page describing your presence at the show, with an emphasis on demos, presentations, and networking events. Offer opportunities to sign up for a personalized demo. Consider geotargeting to focus on those customers and prospects most likely to attend a show in their local area.

5. LinkedIn Ads – Place sponsored updates on LinkedIn using a custom image with an emphasis on speaking slots, demos, networking events, and specific, compelling reasons to drop by the booth. Link to a custom landing page that includes more information (what, where, when) and “add to calendar” links for any scheduled demos, presentations, and networking events at the show.

6. Brain Teasers – you know those “98% of people get this wrong” brain teasers on LinkedIn that generate thousands of comments? Consider using a similar brain teaser or quiz in your pre-show outreach, and offer a prize to the first 50 attendees to come to your booth with the correct answer. (Tip: math challenges work best vs. general knowledge because the answer can’t be googled.)

7. Blogging – Few companies want blog posts to be overtly promotional, but there are still ways to leverage blog content to drive show traffic. Use blog posts as “teasers” for speaking slots, show floor presentations, and scheduled demos by either a) excerpting a planned presentation or b) writing to a related topic/trend/best practice. Then (critically), close the post with an invitation to learn more by visiting with your company at the show.


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