Use LinkedIn to Maximize Trade Show Profits

In my previous blog post about 2017’s top marketing strategies, I talked about how trade show marketing is still an important strategy for connecting with prospects and clients in order to grow sales.

Today, I want to show you how you can use LinkedIn to get a better ROI from your trade show marketing efforts. Just by reading this, you have a major advantage over your competitors, so let’s get started…

Billions of dollars is flooding into and out of conferences and trade shows. According to a study done by Oxford University, trade show marketing result in an average 4-6 times return on investment for exhibitors, there’s no sense in missing out. The problem with most businesses that participate in conferences is that they see it as an event that lasts a few days: they get there, set up, try to sell, pack up, and leave.

Statistics show that 40% of prospects become customers after a face-to-face interaction– but when you have hundreds of competitors vying for their attention all in the span of a few days, it’s easy to miss the mark.

Here’s the problem with the ‘get there and go’ strategy:

  • It doesn’t maximize the networking value of the event
  • It doesn’t help you land on-the-fence prospects who forget you exist the moment they return home
  • It doesn’t help you stay memorable for non-key decision makers, prospects who want to know more, or simply anyone who needs more time to weigh their options.

Luckily, LinkedIn can help you before, during and after your trade show to improve your ROI. Below are 3 LinkedIn tips to improve your trade show marketing ROI.

1. Trade Show Marketing, Pre-Event

Priming your audience is, in my opinion, the most underrated and underused conference technique– which makes it the perfect way to jump-start your conference mojo and get a leg up on your competition.

Here’s how you do it:

Get a List of Competitors Ahead of Time:

There should already be a list of who’s operating booths at the show well before the event. This helps you weigh the competition and choose marketing messages that stand out from the crowd. LinkedIn is one of the best tools online to gather sales intelligence on your competition.

You may want use your sales intelligence to highlight a unique feature or service you offer, a competition-crushing price-point, or results you’ve had that other companies don’t come close to. Getting to know the competition is always a great way of putting your best foot forward.

Get a List of Attendees:

A few weeks before the show, a grand majority of attendees will have already registered. You can ask conference organizers for a list of attendees to review, which allows you to leverage LinkedIn to connect with key people ahead of time. Think speakers, relevant booth-owners, etc.

Send Your Best Prospects Personalized Messages:

Choose 20-30 (or more, depending on your capacity) of your best prospects. Use your customer avatar to narrow down your options and choose the people you want to work with first (if you don’t know what that is, take a look at my post on finding your customer avatar).

Businesses and people that you’re totally uncertain about will be in the next wave of contact requests. Add these top prospects on LinkedIn and tell them who you are and let them know you will be attending the conference and thought it would interesting to connect. This is a great time to mention or even get introduced by mutual LinkedIn connections!

Request Meetings (Be Sure to Pencil Them In)

Once you’re connected thank them and ask for some sort of unique value in conjunction with a request for a quick meetup at the trade show. A lot of opportunities are lost when prospects don’t want to wait around for you to finish talking to someone else.

Scheduling software helps. You can use free tools like Doodle or NeedtoMeet to do this, and as an added plus you may be able to knock out some sales calls before the conference.

Trade Show Marketing Bonus Tip:

Use LinkedIn to connect with event planners, speakers, representatives, and industry-related nonprofits too. Always put some effort into non-sales-related networking. It may give you an opportunity to speak at a future conference or simply get a re-post from someone that all of your prospects know and trust. Hotlink their name in a LinkedIn post about the event– they’ll remember the shout-out.

2. During The Event

You already know what to do here for the most part, but in terms of social media activity you must be sure to capture more onlookers by making posts about special promotions, raffles or prizes at your booth on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Live Post

Always use pictures, videos, and the event hashtag to increase your reach. Also try to comment or repost on activity from relevant attendees while you’re at it. Even if you don’t get to see everyone you interact with, it may result in follows that help you spread your marketing messages later on.


Offer a small reward for leads who sign up to your list or add you on social media (again, focus on LinkedIn to keep growing your network). Providing a special lead magnet or offer for conference attendees is a great way to do this.

Schedule meetings with leads and prospects in real time

Having a set of ipads out during the show helps make scheduling appointments through the aforementioned tools easy, along with adding each of your new prospects to your social networks, if you haven’t already done so pre-conference.

3. After the Conference

Now’s your chance to follow up with your leads– which is hands-down the most important step in the trade show marketing process.

Get connected on LinkedIn

If you’re not already connected LinkedIn be sure to get connected right away by sending a connection request that references your time together at the trade show.

Follow up with your leads within 48 hours

Follow up with trade show marketing leads fast ROI

Follow up with your trade show leads fast for more effective response rate.

How you do this will largely depend on your offer and what you discussed with them. Remember to personalize your follow-ups (at least a few of them) with details about your conversations helps you build a strong rapport with your leads. Send meeting confirmations to make sure everyone remembers your call.

Take a minute to write a LinkedIn recommendations and/or endorse people you spoke to.  Maybe your trade show marketing efforts didn’t land you a meeting with everyone, but this is a nice way to warm up those that almost took the bait, but weren’t quite ready.

Share your best content

Post quality images, videos, and stories from the conference and hotlink some of the people you met along the way. One of the easiest ways to do this is to think about documenting the entire experience from setup to tear down and tell a story.  That content can be used in a variety of ways now and in the future.

Once you’ve done all this, you should have a solid network of attendees to connect with year-round, which is a major plus for your trade show marketing strategy next year and beyond. Perhaps a few of them won’t need you right away– but capturing their attention and staying top of mind will better position you for an opportunity when the timing is right for them.

P.S. Don’t forget to connect with me on LinkedIn >


Dennis Brown
“Stop the madness. There’s a better way!”
LinkedIn Marketing & Social Selling Consultant, Trainer, Speaker

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