When businesses exhibit at trade shows, it's a huge investment – of time, resources and money. The expectation is that after a trade show, the business will be flush with new opportunities, connections and maybe even partnership opportunities.
Yet many exhibitors fall flat at trade shows and start to wonder if it's even worth going to shows anymore. This is because they haven't maximized their impact. Try the following tips for a better trade show experience.
1. Select the best booth location.
Within the trade show industry, the physical location of your exhibit is referred to as your trade show booth. As with any business, it's all about location, location, location. Depending on the show and your booth size, you'll want to make sure you're in a high-traffic and highly visible area. This could mean selecting a location at the entrance of the exhibit hall, near a particularly popular brand that will bring higher traffic, or even by food stations.
What you don't want to do is get stuck in the back and wonder why nobody is coming by. Be choosy about your booth location to increase your chances of attracting foot traffic to your booth.
2. Design an impressive exhibit.
Whether you're exhibiting in a 10 x 10, 10 x 20 or 20 x 20 trade show booth, you'll want to design something that will stand out in the crowd. An exhibit design house can recommend some budget-friendly but eye-popping elements. This means you'll want to consider where to spend your budget wisely – such as on hanging signage, light boxes, bold graphics, interesting or unique elements, audiovisual elements or props. Whether your budget is hefty or razor-thin, your business must maximize its impact by investing in materials that will draw attention to your brand. You don't have to be an industry giant to make a bold statement that makes people stop and wonder what your business does.
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3. Promote your presence at the trade show.
Most trade shows allow exhibitors the opportunity to buy a list of registered attendees. It behooves your company to buy it so you can start promoting your presence with email marketing. Also work social media and the trade show's hashtags, industry terms and more to get in front of the people you want to stop by your booth. Don't forget to email and call clients and prospects as well. Odds are they'll have someone going to that show and you can touch base with them.
Ideally, you should begin promoting your presence a few months before the show. You can promote in conjunction with targeted pay-per-click advertising campaigns, website promotions and more. The idea is to reach as many people as you can to ensure your booth is full. A full booth makes people wonder what's going on and encourages even more foot traffic to your business.
4. Drum up interest with a giveaway.
Giveaways are very popular and a great way to attract more people to your booth. Depending on your industry, you may want to consider some more impressive prizes than just another iPad. For example, at nursing shows, brand-name purses are popular draws for CNOs. At tech shows, the latest and greatest gadgets always attract interest, but so could tickets to a local adventure for while the attendees are in town.
No matter your industry, thinking outside the box can help you to draw more foot traffic to your trade show booth. Nobody wants to stop by and grab your pens or brochure. Instead, invest in a great giveaway and pair it with an interesting way to win. Make sure to stipulate that entrants must be present at a specific day and time to win. This incentivizes them to come back to your booth, exposing them to your brand yet again.
5. Offer food and beverages.
If you've ever been to a trade show, you know the sheer amount of walking alone can make you work up an appetite. To draw more people to your trade show booth over another, try offering coffee and bagels in the morning, obtained through onsite craft services. Remember, many trade shows insist that is the only way you can provide food or beverages, or they might bill you for far more than anything you would've paid to bring food to the show. If you've got the budget, host a happy hour in your booth on the first day of the show. Ask to provide drinks on consumption so you don't end up paying an exorbitant cost.
6. Get your staff excited.
One of the best ways to maximize your trade show impact is to get energetic people who draw others to your trade show booth. They don't have to be carnival barkers, but a friendly "Hello, how's your day?" is often enough to get someone to stop and take an interest. Their enthusiasm should be palpable, because nobody wants to drop by a booth with a bunch of Debbie Downers. That just doesn't look or feel inviting. Instead, bring excited team members, after training them on reaching out to people on the trade show floor to encourage them to visit your booth.
There are many ways to maximize your impact at a trade show, but with these best practices, you should be able to make a more memorable impression.