Trade Shows are one of the best ways to get face-to-face interactions with your customers. Let’s be real, trade shows can be expensive. Especially if you don’t do the proper research and preparation before attending or exhibiting.  

Here are eleven tips to make sure that you are getting the most out of your trade show experience.  

1. Establish Your Goals

Establishing your goals is the most important step in being able to determine if you have had a successful trade show experience. Whether your goal is to collect new leads, increase brand recognition, or make sales, establishing your goals will help you determine success, and could help you narrow down which trade shows are best for your goals.

2. Establish a Budget

If you do not have a pre-set budget, then it will be hard to determine what your ROI is from the trade shows. You have to be willing to spend money to make money, but if you are smart and do your research, you shouldn’t have to spend too much. Make sure that your budget includes the cost of the booth, booth materials, shipping, travel, and accommodations. Once you have set your trade show budget and goals, you will be better able to decide which shows are right for your business.

3. Decide Which Show to Exhibit At

This step in research is one of the most important parts of planning and can help ensure success at the right show. Not every show is right for your company. It is important to research each show to determine dates, travel distance, demographics, audience, size, and cost. Once you have determined these, factor in your goals and budget, and you will be able to determine which show or shows are right for your company.

4. Attend Other Shows

The best way to understand exhibiting is to attend other shows and see it firsthand, especially if you have never been to a trade show before. There is a much lower cost to attend shows than there is to exhibit, so it is relatively inexpensive way to research what exhibits are working and what are not. Being able to see what other people’s displays look like, what they are exhibiting, and what they are doing to attract attendees into the booth is a vital research step to help your company determine how it will run its exhibit space at future trade shows. 

5. Run Pre-Show Promotions

Often, trade shows will offer exhibitors the option to share a discount code on the exhibitor’s website. This is a great way for exhibitors to get current customers into the show and for attendees to register at a reduced rate. Promoting a special event at your booth or hinting at booth giveaways on line before the show are great incentives for attendees to visit your booth. 

6. Prepare Your Sales Team

Your sales team at your booth should be well educated about what to say when people come to your booth. Your staff should be able to give a quick description of what your company does, the products or services it provides, and any additional details about the products or services that could help close a potential sale. Having key talking points ready ahead of time can be very helpful.  It is also important for you to create a comprehensive show plan so that if there is a problem, your team has a handy booklet of what to do and how to fix it. Show plans should include objectives, booth information, hours, shipping information, exhibitor summary, show floor layout, show floor contact information, booth order confirmation, insurance information, sales points, show tactics, and any customer intake information.

7. Prepare Your Booth Space

Your booth will be one of your biggest expenses outside of renting the booth space, but once you have made initial purchases, it can be reused at every trade show you attend. It is important that it is presentable and eye-catching. Your booth is the first impression that many people will have of your company, and could be a deciding factor in whether or not attendees visit and talk to your sales team. Making it open and inviting will encourage attendees to visit and move out of the crowded walkways.

8. Capture Leads

There are many ways to collect information from attendees, but it is vital that your sales people do gather it. Gathering leads is one of the main draws of exhibiting at a trade show, and leaving without collecting leads is a big loss. Some larger trade shows may have included options to collect leads through a custom app, but you can also collect leads with a business card drawing, sign-up sheet, or personal input by a sales representative. It is important to offer several ways for attendees to give you their contact information. Your trade show leads are gold.

9. Utilize Social Media

If your company is utilizing social media, why not use it at the event. It opens up your booth, and products, to potential consumers who might not have been able to attend the trade show. It also allows other people at the trade show to get updates about any contests or drawings you might have planned, and allows attendees to interact with your company on social media. Using the trade show hashtag lets others attending the show to see your posts, and widens your audience. Social media focuses attention and buzz on your company.  

10. Network

Trade shows are a networking event. Just because you have a booth doesn’t mean that you are exempt from networking with other exhibitors. It is important to get out of your booth and mingle! (Just make sure there is at least one representative manning the booth at all times). Not every lead will be made inside your booth, so get out on the show floor with some business cards and network.  

11. Follow Up!

This is vital! If you do not follow up, then your leads will become stagnant and you could lose out on potential sales. Put together some plan of how to contact each lead, and sale, in order to continue the relationship that you established at the trade show. Leads will be expecting to hear from you if they left contact info, so definitely follow up.


How Marketing Influence can help:

Are you interested in exhibiting at a trade show but don’t know where to start? Marketing Influence specializes in Trade Show Management. We can research which trade shows are best for your company, organize the purchase of booth space and shipment of materials, create a comprehensive show plan for your management and sales teams to follow, and much more. Contact us if you are interested in finding new leads for your company at a trade show.