The date is set, and you’re all booked in to attend a trade show. You’ve been super busy getting everything prepared, designing your booth and letting customers know where you’re going to be. You think you’ve got everything prepared and that you’ve remembered to do all the essential stuff, but are there critical aspects you’re forgetting?
Usually, yes. Having seen people makes the same mistake over and over again, we’re well-tuned into the common issues that people run into when holding their booths at trade shows.
Go from amateur booth holder to behaving like a seasoned professional by following these tips.
Remember to set goals
What are you doing at a trade show if you don’t know what you hope to achieve? Many businesses hold a booth because they feel it’s expected. But without clear objectives in place, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Before the trade show, get your goals set in stone. Whether its to increase brand awareness, network, launch a new product, gain new followers, or relaunch yourself, know exactly what you’re doing there and what you want to achieve.
Remember to research the trade show
Picking a trade show just because it’s prominent or popular is a common way of deciding which shows to participate in. It’s not the best method, though.
We recommend that you find out where your ideal audience hangs out. Then get in front of them. There may be little point attending a trade show full of industry directors, for example, when your aim is to increase customers.
An excellent way to research a trade show is to attend as a visitor. Scout the location, the visitors, and the stands. Narrow down your options until you have selected one or two trade shows that fit your requirements best and then focus your attention on them.
Remember to work on your message strategy
You probably have a message you want to convey to your audience but have you thought about how to do so? Your message needs to be powerful to stand out above the rest, and you also need a strategy to communicate that message.
Your messaging needs to be consistent and concise throughout the booth. Ensure the following is contained within your strategy:
- How does the message highlight your brand?
- Which products and services are you promoting in line with your message?
- Is your booth display cohesive with your message?
- Do your staff know the message and how to explain it in detail?
- Does your supporting literature contain further information about your message?
- Remember to build up the hype beforehand
Sending out a date and an address to your existing customers does not constitute as building up the hype. Get existing and potential customers excited about your booth and give them a reason to visit you.
We recommend that you start building momentum several weeks before your event by posting on social media. You can get people interested by holding a contest or give out promotional coupons to use on the day.
You can even get your own hashtag set up for the event. Others make Youtube videos with sneak peeks of booth preparation. Whatever you do, make it intriguing and compelling, and watch the customers flock to you.
Remember to take your booth design seriously
We like to think that booth design is an art form. There are awards given to the best booths and many businesses see it as a challenge to create something extraordinary.
Even if you have a limited budget, you can come up with a gorgeous design that looks professional, conveys your branding, and draws people in.
Just remember these key points:
- Keep colors consistent throughout your booth design: Unless you’re in the business of selling multicolored unicorns, keep your booth colors streamlined and on theme.
- Consider the space carefully: know your limitations. Avoid clutter. If you have a large space, ensure you can fill it adequately.
- Use professionally designed banners: DIY jobs can save money in the short term, but you’re more likely to lose money in the form of potential customers walking past your booth. DIY banners rarely look as good as professional designs and they are also more likely to fail you on the day.
- Keep freebies relevant: Everyone loves freebies, but how do yours fit in with the overall theme? Keep your merchandise relevant. It will look odd, for example, if you’re a tech company giving away candy bars, or a health business giving away memory sticks unless there is some clear context.
- Match your staff: Have your staff wear uniforms or clothes that work with the booth design. Make sure it’s comfortable for them too as they will be working hard and may spend long periods on their feet.
Remember to have adequate or appropriate staff
Staffing is an area that’s often overlooked. Many businesses think they can put anyone on the floor and it’ll be sufficient. Or they put their salespeople in place intending to pitch to visitors.
The bottom line is that no-one wants to hear the hard sales pitch. Staff is better off focusing on being friendly, approachable, and informative.
Also, ensure they are in sufficient numbers to take adequate breaks without leaving the booth short-staffed at busy times. Tired, grumpy, overworked staff is not a good look for any booth.
Remember to debrief afterward
So the trade show went well. Could it have done better? You may never improve your trade show capability unless you analyze what has happened in the past. Consider what lessons you can take from the event. How will you use the information to improve your booth for the next show? Debriefs are essential if you want to get better, so take the time to have one after every event.
Trade shows can be extremely beneficial for your business, but only if you’ve taken the time and effort to think seriously about your strategy and your booth design. The two should go hand-in-hand. The most successful booths will have been months in the planning, so start early and give yourself enough time to get it right.
By following this advice, you elevate yourself to trade show pro and build the foundations for trade show success every time. Be the envy of your competitors with a winning booth and a day that runs seamlessly.