If you're exhibiting at a trade show, you need to find ways of maximising your investment - not just on the day of the event but in the weeks and months that follow. You've met new prospects and generated new leads at the trade show, but now you've got to drive home the advantage and turn potential into profits.

According to Timothy Carter, digital marketing manager for Nimlok, there are a number of different ways to achieve this goal. In a recent article for Small Business Trends, he explained some of the ways companies can continue to benefit from trade shows after they have taken place.

First of all, Mr Carter says it is important to have a visually attractive stand or display - something people will remember after the event has finished. "You need to make sure your display is memorable on a number of levels," he told the news provider. "First, all the basics must be done right. Proper lighting, an open entry space and a visually attractive display are absolutely necessary. Next, you need to get creative to draw attendees into your booth space." Mr Carter urged exhibitors to consider the use of interactive visual displays, or to host contests at their booth with prizes available for the winners.

Tied into this is the need to provide giveaways that people are actually interested in. He said freebies need to be creative but also convenient to carry. "Instead of handing out pens like the majority of other booths are doing at the show, why not do something a little more interesting?" Mr Carter urged. "A memorable booth is the first step to making sure the people you meet at the show will remember you."

He explained the importance of having an easy point of contact, highlighting social media as being ideal for this role. Mr Carter said businesses should include details of their social media feeds and pages on all their promotional material. "Give your social media information - your Facebook page, your Twitter handle, etc - so that your customer can get to know you comfortably," he suggested.

Having attracted new online followers, it's important to make social media pages interesting and fun, Mr Carter added. People need to be given reason to read your messages and engage with them directly, through shares, retweets and replies. "To do this, consider posting photos from the trade show booth and ask thoughtful questions that will elicit more than one-word answers," he suggested.

Something else you can do as a business, according to Mr Carter, is to link to photos of your trade show booth on your website. This shows a little of the company in action, with your staff talking to customers and potentially conducting demonstrations. This suggests you are an active business that is going places. "Consider a tagline including how many people stopped by, how many giveaways were taken, or how many new customers signed up," Mr Carter urged.

If you've managed to build up a list of contacts, it's worth asking them if they want to receive a free newsletter. This can be an effective piece of marketing which helps keep your profile high, and enables you to spread the word about new offers and opportunities, with a view to generating increased revenues in the future. It shouldn't take long to create but can play a big role in converting leads.