4 Brilliant Lead Magnets for Your Next Trade Show or Conference

This content discusses strategies for attracting quality leads at conferences and trade shows without breaking the bank.

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・4 min read
Business & Marketing Strategy

Whether or not your company is a veteran conference or trade show attendee, you’re probably aware that getting noticed at these types of events can come with a hefty price tag. Companies are willing to go bigger and bigger, investing in booth amenities that will help them stand out. According to the marketing agency, Inkwell, it’s not out of the norm to spend anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 on a completed booth exhibit. Yikes!Before renting a dunk tank, or installing a mini, mini golf course, check out some of these strategies that will not only bring leads to your booth, but ensure that they’re quality leads more likely to convert. The best part? All of these strategies are budget-friendly, allowing you to save your $40,000 to $60,000 for a rainy day.

First, how do we attract quality leads?

via GIPHYIt takes time, energy, and money to convert a new customer. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Invesp, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain a current one. Investing in customer retention is important, but it doesn’t free us from periodically investing in customer acquisition. In fact, that’s what trade shows are all about, right? Since acquisition weighs so heavily on our resources, it’s important to hone our focus on attracting high-quality leads. But how does one do that? There’s no 100% guarantee that the leads you attract will be high-converting, but there is one golden rule to follow to help you ensure they are. To put it plainly, the main ingredient to attracting quality leads is knowing your audience. Then, tailor your marketing, promotions, and giveaways, and in this case, your trade show presence to attract that specific audience. At your next conference or trade show, here are a few ways you can bring leads to you. Make sure you tailor things like giveaway prizes, freebies, and verbiage to those who are most likely to use your business, and you’ll ensure that those who visit your booth will be those likely to convert.

Offer a giveaway

Using a giveaway to attract leads is one of my favorite strategies because of its versatility and also because it comes with the added benefit of data collection. To enter, participants will have you give you at least one bit of contact information. This will help you with your post-show communication and help you make more sales. However, with data security concerns at an all-time high, asking for contact information from your leads will come at a cost. In other words, it’s important that your giveaway offer a high-value prize. Speaking of the prize, offering the right prize is paramount to attracting high-converting leads. If you’re looking to suss out people likely to patronize your business, you must offer a prize that is of interest to those who fit your audience. For example, if you’re a landscape company, you won’t attract the right leads by giving away an iPhone. Instead, offer free landscape services for three months. This way, you know that those who enter are interested in winning your prize. In other words, you are ensuring that they actually have landscaping to service.Craft your giveaway to suit your marketing goals. For example, are you looking to grow your social media following? Add a “points for actions” component to incentivize social media follows. Or, make it an instant win giveaway to ramp up the excitement happening at your booth.

Instant Win

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Offer a limited number of freebies

One of the best things about attending a conference or trade show is coming home with a tote full of free goodies. If your freebie is something with a bit of drawing power, add a limit to the number you’re giving away to create a sense of urgency among attendees. Visitors will not only make sure to hit your booth early on in the show, more importantly, they’ll make sure to hit your booth. This will increase the number of leads you get. And, if you stick to the rule of keeping your freebies relevant to your audience, you’ll be sure to attract quality leads as well. As a bonus, ask booth visitors to enter a form before handing over their free gift. This will serve two functions - by adding a limit to the number of entries the form will accept, you can keep track of the number of freebies you allocated and keep yourself from going over your limit. It will also allow you to collect contact information from those booth visitors, helping you to keep the conversation going after the trade show is over. [caption id="attachment_48465" align="alignnone" width="600"]

ShortStack Form Designer

Set an entry limit in ShortStack’s Form Designer[/caption]

Offer a discount on products or services

Think back to the last holiday season shopping trip you took. Were you primed and ready to quick-draw your credit card? On a planned shopping trip, we tend to be a little more impulsive when making purchasing decisions. The same goes for trade shows. Attendees plan on spending money, so it’s your job to seize the opportunity and give them good reason to spend money with your company. The excitement and short-termness of an event such as this does something to our brain. Add in the allure of a discount offered at this limited-time event and you have a recipe for conversion.

You can’t go wrong with swag

I once knew a guy whose entire wardrobe (save for maybe a dress shirt or two) was made up of free shirts. The companies that dressed my friend on a daily basis may or not be his favorite businesses to spend his money with, but nonetheless, their contribution to his wardrobe was not made in vain. Something special happens when your customers adorn your swag - they become a brand advocate without even saying a word.  The best part about swag is that the bearers of your brand will become that brand advocate whether or not they ever became a customer. If you’re like my friend and wear free swag indiscriminately whether you’re a customer or not, you’re telling the world “Hey, I support this company,” making it easier for others to share that trust.

In summary

Remember, that the quantity of leads you attract is not as important as the quality of those leads. To ensure you attract the right people, know your audience and create all of your branding, promotions, prizes and discounts with your audience in mind. Lastly, don't let those leads go to waste. Collect contact information so you can keep the conversation going after the show is over.

About the author

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・4 min read

Jessica Miller-McNatt has been with ShortStack for over a decade and has served in every role from Marketing Team Lead to Customer Success. Her journey in martech continues to fuel her fascination for what drives growth. Jessica's favorite weekends are spent in the North Georgia mountains, chasing waterfalls and exploring with her family.

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