Choosing to exhibit at a trade show is a big decision!

There are a lot of elements to think about, including displays, staffing, promotions, etc. Strategically planning for a trade show experience will go a long way. We’ve prepared some tips to help you, as the exhibitor, to get the most out of your trade show dollars.

Prepare and research

Scour the show’s website and read the vendor list. Learn as much as you can about the show and participating exhibitors. Figure out how you can stand out from the other exhibitors and which exhibitors you most want to network with. Research similar shows and familiarize yourself with brand displays. Set clear goals for

Engage in social media

Visit the show’s social media channels. Like the show’s page. Read the posts and comments. Respond to comments left on the show’s posts. Begin the engagement before you ever set foot in the facility. Post about your plans to exhibit at the show and tag the page. If there is a hashtag associated with the event, make sure to use it.

Make it fun or interactive

Brainstorm ways to get booth visitors interacting with your brand. Can you create a game that showcases some aspect of your services or products? You could order unique, exciting, and flashy promotional items that clearly display your logo or branding. Make it something that will be fun for attendees to wear or use. This expands your reach far beyond your booth. Encourage attendees to post on social media with the items and tag your company or use a custom hashtag. Entice by giving away a big prize to a random winner that uses the hashtag or tags the brand.

Bring quality literature

Take stock of any existing brochures, fliers, price sheets, contact cards, etc beforehand. Could they use a refresh? Is all of the information current? Order new materials if needed. Consider creating show-special coupon cards for attendees to take and use with your business later.

Be mindful of first impressions

Coach attending staff on body language and first impressions. Humans are hardwired to make quick first impressions and hold onto those impressions. If a customers’ first impression of your business is a disengaged employee, staring down at their phone or sitting stiffly with arms crossed, it unlikely that they will stop to engage with your brand. Bad first impressions equal less return on your investment in the show.

Have an eye-catching booth

Design your booth to be visually appealing and to stand out to the crowd. Begin planning your booth long before the show, so that you can tweak it if you need to. Try to find a fresh and creative way to expand your brand.

Educate staff

Make sure that your staff is fully educated about the product or service that they will be marketing at the show. Don’t send a rookie, unless it is with a seasoned staff member to shadow and learn from them. Staff should be prepared with specific answers to common questions.

Prepare the pitch

Potential customers will inevitably approach the booth and ask what your company does. Staff should have a prepared elevator pitch that concisely explains what your company does. This explanation should be simple and on brand with the mission of the company. It should ideally explain specifically what issue your product or service resolves, and why customers should care.

Collect contact information

This can be as simple as a sign-up sheet collecting customer’s email addresses. A good way to convince customers to sign up is to turn it into a contest, by having customers providing their contact information to enter a giveaway.

Follow up with your leads!

Send follow up messages to leads from the trade show as soon as possible, while the show (and your product or service) is still top of mind. Don’t forget to reach out to network connections made at the show and let them know how much you appreciated the interaction. They likely made many connections at the show, so a prompt and sincere follow up will help you stand out.