Trade shows offer businesses a unique opportunity to showcase their products and services to a captive audience of potential customers. The attendees of trade shows are typically interested in learning about new products and services and are often decision-makers within their organizations.
This makes trade shows an ideal opportunity for businesses to generate high-quality leads and build relationships with potential customers. By showcasing their products and services at a trade show, businesses can not only generate new leads but also strengthen relationships with existing customers and partners.
However, with so many exhibitors vying for attention, it’s essential to have an effective lead-generation strategy in place to stand out from the competition. A successful lead-generation strategy at trade shows involves setting clear goals, engaging attendees, capturing contact information, and providing value.
In this event industry expert series, Jonathan Pritchard shared various strategies to generate leads efficiently at trade shows. Furthermore, he shared insights on how to optimize ROI at trade shows and propel business growth.
Jonathan is a well-known entrepreneur and speaker, widely recognized for his expertise in the events and trade shows industry. As the founder of both ZAVANT Enterprises and ROI Trade Shows, he has devoted his career to assisting businesses in establishing meaningful relationships with their target audiences.
– Could you please walk us through your professional journey?
I’ve been introverted my whole life. I was also shy throughout most of my childhood. Eventually, I found my way to practicing magic tricks and juggling. Both let me engage people from the safety of a character. That allowed me to entertain large groups of people without feeling like they were judging me; they were too busy having fun.
After college, I worked at a magic shop in Universal Studios Orlando where I did 19,000 live shows over the course of nearly 3 years. That was a fantastic education in public speaking, performing for all kinds of audiences, and the power of practicing something A LOT. From there I was the tour manager for a full-time entertainer to learn the business of being an entertainer, myself.
After touring for nearly a decade with my own show, I realized that the communication tools I use during my show could help companies be more successful in branding, marketing, sales, negotiations, and beyond. That’s when I developed the corporate consulting part of my business, and I started by helping companies that exhibit at trade shows. I help them get attention, entertain the audience, and prequalify them at scale. All the sales team has to do is talk to hot leads!
– What are some of the most effective lead-generation tactics you’ve seen at trade shows, and how do you help your clients implement these strategies?
If I had to boil it down to two words it would be “be proactive.” Every other booth in the trade show has a beautiful backdrop as you do. They have postcards to hand out as you do. They have their best salespeople in the booth as you do. Now what? 99% of those people sit back and let people come to them.
That’s where you’ll do something different! Have an in-booth presenter who knows how to get attention, draw people in one-by-one, and actively build a crowd of people who are interested in seeing more. The ability to conjure a crowd from nowhere is one of the most difficult parts of the whole situation, and there are few people in the world who can do it without being cheesy about it.
I got good at it inviting hundreds of thousands of people in to see the show at Universal Studios. They were there to ride roller coasters! They were on their way to see the main attraction. My job was to stop them in their tracks and convince them to spend 20 minutes with me.
That’s where I learned how to proactively build an audience, entertain them, then invite them to connect long-term. Now, with my clients, I work with my clients in the months leading up to trade shows writing a custom script that blends the entertainment side of what I do with the marketing messaging of what my clients do until it’s a seamless presentation that makes my clients look great.
– Can you discuss the importance of branding and messaging at trade shows, and how do you help your clients develop a strong brand and messaging strategy?
Branding and messaging are everything. Your perfect client may not recognize you at first, so you need to help them understand why they need you and you need to do that fast. Lots of people think that their logo and colors are their brands.
While those are elements of it, I think of branding as the memories and associations you create in the minds of your audience. That’s where messaging comes in. You have to say the right things at the right time in the right way to make sure your audience walks away remembering the right things about you!
The most common challenge I find is that my clients want to say too much. They want to fit three hours of “selling points” into a 12-minute presentation. My main challenge is helping them narrow that down to the 3 most compelling elements of their story, and then I weave those into the script.
3 points are easier for people to remember and that makes it more powerful than overwhelming the audience with 50 details. Everyone tunes out at the fourth detail and winds up forgetting everything anyway!
– What are some of the most important skills and traits for success as a keynote speaker and trade show lead generation expert?
I genuinely believe that you have to love your audience. If you love people and you love helping people, then you’re going to do great. If you make yourself the focus of any presentation, it’s going to fall flat.
If you focus on empowering your audience and giving them the resources they need to win? You’ll win every single time. That kind of warmth and concern for others is your strongest asset in business and life beyond.
– What advice do you have for companies looking to improve their trade show presence and generate more leads at these events?
Consider having an in-booth presenter. They are fantastic at getting groups of people interested in what you do at a scale that your sales team can’t match when they have one on one conversations.
Further, presenters save you a lot of money after the show by helping you avoid following up with tire kickers and people who wanted the free giveaway that you used to get their email. The money you save there is often 2 to 4 times the fee of the presenter. Since presenters can help you get more great leads, fewer junk leads, and help you waste less time afterward you could afford to pay them 3 or 4 times as much as they charge and still come out ahead!
For more in the Events Industry Experts series, check out our interview with Shawn Cheng, Olivia Preston-Lee, Patric Weiler, Shameka Jennings, Janice Cardinale, Courtney Stanley, Helen Moon, Danica Tormohlen, Ashley Brown, Jason Allan Scott, Brandt Krueger, Corbin Ball, Will Curran, and Stephan Murtagh today!
Are you interested in sharing your insights or viewpoints with the events industry? Join the Eva Talk.