Setting up a booth at an industry trade show can undoubtedly pay off big-time for your company. But if your business is spending its money, time, and energy to set up a trade show display, it’s important that you follow some guidelines for trade show success.
- Educate Your Trade Show Staff
Taking the time to adequately train and prepare your staff for the trade show is a must. This begins with carefully choosing the right employees to represent your company at a trade show. From there, make sure they have the training and resources needed to best interact with trade show attendees and effectively spread the word about your business. As part of your training, also be sure to inform your employees as to the appropriate attire for the event; you’ll want to have them dress professionally while remaining comfortable, especially since they’ll likely be spending hours at a time on their feet.
- Hold Event Promos and Contests
One of the best ways to generate interest with trade show booths is to hold special promotions and contests throughout the event. This is where you really have a chance to get creative. For example, you could allow trade show attendees to enter a free drawing; the randomly drawn winner receives a free product or service from your company (or a heavily discounted one). As part of the information you collect in the drawing, you could ask for e-mail addresses or other contact information that can be used to follow-up after the event as well.
- Engage with Attendees on Social Media
Social media makes it possible for you to reach out not only to attendees at the trade show, but those following the events online as well. Surely, there will be dozens or even hundreds of industry professionals who weren’t able to attend the show this year, but who are following along on social media. Make sure you’re targeting this audience as well by leveraging social media! From Twitter hashtags and Facebook posts to Instagram photos and Snapchat videos, social media is an excellent outlet for further engaging your audience. Promote your presence at the event across your social media channels, have a staff member follow the social media debate and respond to tweets and likes, and don’t forget to use trade show and brand-specific hashtags for the duration of the event.
- Make Your Trade Show Display Memorable
More than likely, your booth will be just one of dozens or even hundreds set up at the trade show. Of course you want it to stand out. This is where working with a company that specializes in creating engaging and visually appealing trade show displays can make all the difference. Bright colors, pop up displays, trade show banner stands, and unique lighting will encourage more attendees to stop by your booth and hear more about what your employees have to say.
- Select the Right Booth Location
The appearance of your trade show booth isn’t the only factor that can affect the amount of foot traffic your display receives, however. It’s all about location. Take the time to study the layout of the trade show facility and do your best to determine the best placement for your booth accordingly. There are many factors to keep in mind when it comes to choosing your booth location. Some specific things to look for when deciding include:
- Proximity to restrooms and registration booths
- Amount of foot traffic in the area
- Specific location within the row (corner booths are ideal)
Keep in mind that you will pay a premium for an excellent booth location, but in most cases, that extra cost is more than worth the added exposure. Just be sure to book early, as prime locations fill up quickly.
- Demonstrate Your Product or Services
Long gone are the days of having a “talking head” standing at your booth and lecturing attendees as they stop by. Today’s trade show attendees expect to be entertained as they’re informed. So while you should still have an employee act as a “booth host” to answer questions and greet people, a great way to gain interest is to have a live product demonstration taking place directly at your booth, if possible. This allows attendees to see first-hand what your business’s services and/or products can do for them. If a live product demonstration isn’t possible, consider creating and displaying a video that serves the same purpose.
- Have a System for Collecting Leads
One of the main goals of attending a trade show for your company should be collecting leads, which could very well turn into sales or even business partnerships down the road. Therefore, you’ll want to have a precise system in place for collecting leads (and make sure all of your employees in attendance are trained on collecting leads). One common way to go about this is to have attendees provide their contact information or even fill out a survey in exchange for a free promotional product (pen, flash drive, etc.).
- Don’t Forget to Follow Up Quickly
When exhibiting a booth at a trade show, the main goal should always be to generate qualified leads that will turn into future business for your company. Leads aren’t really worth much if you aren’t taking the time to nurture them. Ideally, you (or your employees) should be following up with leads within 24 hours of receiving them. You should never wait any longer than a few days to follow-up, whether it be by e-mail or even a friendly phone call. Be sure to factor in the time and effort required to follow-up with leads when planning your staffing needs for the trade show itself.
- Invest in the Right Promotional Products
Most trade show attendees will expect your booth to have some promotional products available to give away. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should order 1,000 mouse pads with your company name and logo on them. Be mindful of the promotional products you buy to ensure you get the best return on your investment; it’s helpful to think of your promotional products as a form of advertising for your company. In order for them to be effective, people need to actually use the products. This means you’ll want to carefully consider both your audience and your industry to come up with product ideas that’ll be most useful. Some popular items these days include:
- USB flash drives
- Clothing items (t-shirts, etc.)
- Beverage containers
- Create a Schedule Ahead of Time
Last but not least, take the time to create a detailed schedule and share it with your employees before the event. You want to make sure that each employee gets regularly scheduled meal breaks throughout each day of the trade show; this will help to avoid burnout and ensure that your employees are energized and alert.
Planning for a Trade Show
There’s a lot to keep in mind when planning for your company’s attendance at an industry trade show. From selecting the right employees for the task to picking out an attractive banner display, all of these small tips can add up to make a big difference in the outcome of your booth. From there, your business can enjoy the greatest return on investment for each trade show you attend.
For more ideas on how to improve your trade show display and experience, visit the Northwest Creative Imaging blog!