How to Prepare for a Trade Show

Debuting a product or exhibiting your brand at a trade show is a fantastic way to network with others in your field and stay up on the latest industry innovations and news. Much like shooting fish in a barrel, business conventions are marketing powerhouses brimming with leads and sales that are – literally – staring you in the face. Whether your conference experience turns out to be awesome or awful has less to do with what happens at the show, than what you to do get ready. Now that you’re registered, keep reading for how to prepare for a trade show.

Yes, Exhibit

While attending a trade show is certainly valuable to your business, exhibiting is far more beneficial. According to the 2018 Global Meetings & Events Forecast:

  • 87% of attendees purchase products or services promoted at trade shows.
  • 74% of attendees have a more positive opinion about exhibiting companies after the event.
  • 96% of attendees mention exhibiting companies – by name – when sharing their conference experiences with family and friends.

 Goals

Make sure to figure out what you want to accomplish before you walk onto the show floor. Have specific metrics you will track to help you understand whether you’ve met that goal or not. If your goal focuses on awareness, then count the number of demos you give. If you want leads, make sure to get a badge scanner and have a plan for what you are going to do with those leads post-show. Trade show attendance is expensive. Make sure you have a strategy to make it worth it.

Strategy

Once you’ve targeted your desired outcome, start making plans:

  • Understand your target audience
  • Choose your messaging
  • Pick the products or services to highlight
  • Research attendees
  • Plan to stand out with product demonstrations, interactive experiences, branded merch, contests, and educational opportunities

Booth

At the trade show, your booth is your brand so make sure you’re projecting the image you want to stick. Register early and scope out the floor plan. As with all real estate, it’s location-location-location, so make sure you score a prime spot where you’ll be seen by everyone there.

Invest in a professional designer, homemade booths make adorable lemonade stands but are inappropriate in professional settings. A booth that isn’t designed by a professional will give you the opposite impression you are looking for.

Be thoughtful about the layout and make it easy for attendees to navigate. Use strategic lighting to showcase products or important information. Be sure your logo is prominently displayed and that the booth design makes good and consistent use of your company’s colors and style.

Hire professional booth staff or train and prepare your employees, well. An eye-catching booth will pull people over, but it’s those inside who get leads and make sales. Man your booth with excited, engaging, and informed representatives who can clearly convey your message and intelligently answer questions.

Market

Trade shows are a great place to connect with clients and colleagues, but only if they know you’re going to be there! Invite everyone to the professional party through email campaigns, newsletters, blog posts, and social media. While you’re at the show, post about it. Use relevant hashtags, take pictures with people who stop by, have contest winners hold up their prizes and brag about them on video – show the human, fun-loving side of your company while promoting your products for free.

Follow Up

You came, you showed, now conquer! All the effort and planning you put into making an unforgettable impression has paid off in the form of lots and lots of leads – don’t waste them! The sooner you reach out to those you met at the trade show, the better your chance of making a sale. Load those emails into your CRM and start sending out personalized messages; thank them for stopping by, ask if they have any questions about your business, offer to send them additional information, or even set up a meeting. Continue nurturing these new relationships, consider offering a sweet deal or discount to those who stopped by your booth, and be sure to include a clear call-to-action in all of your correspondence.

We’d love to help plan your next trade show, let’s talk!

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