Show Up, Show Off, Show Results!

Tips for Making the Most of Your Trade Show Experience

1. The decision to exhibit.

Be clear on why you are booking into the show, and what you want to get out of it. Do you want to:

  • Promote and educate attendees about your products and services?
  • Demonstrate your product or service?
  • Interact with existing clients and customers?
  • Initiate a relationship with new or potential clients?
  • Network?
  • Recruit personnel?
  • Generate sales?
  • Explore and investigate the competition?
  • Create and maintain a positive community image?
  • Introduce a new product or service?

In selecting a trade show, consider:

  • Are existing customers and clients likely to attend?
  • Will the show attract a new or potential customer?
  • Your time. Do you have adequate time and resources to do a good job? The payoff may be worth you creating the time and resources!
  • Are you doing it because you have always done it? Not a good reason! Evaluate each show, each year.
  • The show management. Do they have a good track record? Is the show adequately advertised? Does the investment show a return for you?

Remember – attendance figures at a trade show is not the most important thing. Is a high percentage of qualified, targeted customers likely to attend?

2. Pre-Show planning

To have an effective presence at a trade show, there is some important work to be done well in advance. Show organizers can’t do it all! They set up the opportunity and the environment – it’s up to you to build on that.

In preparing for the trade show, remember:

  • Prepare an eye-catching exhibit
  • Promote and/or advertise your participation in the show
    ie. Tradeshow publicity, newspaper ad or insert, radio, invitations to your customersStaff the exhibit with trained, knowledgeable, approachable people
  • The image you project at the trade show is the image attendees will have of your business. Make sure the image presented is the one you want!

Plan your objectives for the show. Are they:

  • Realistic?
  • Measurable?
  • Consistent with your business and business philosophy?

Share your objectives with your staff and work with them in setting their personal goals. Be certain that the staff's goals will contribute to attaining the company’s objectives.

Establish a budget. Be selective in how you spend your money, but avoid scrimping at the cost of your exhibit. It will show! The display needs to be attractive in order to draw people to your booth.

3. Setting up your exhibit

An appealing exhibit will draw show attendees’ attention. It should also stimulate interest and questions.

  • Design your display to “break the step” of attendees as they walk down the aisle. Once this initial attention is gained, you can draw them into your exhibit area through a stimulating display, and an approachable staff person.
  • Exhibits support selling. Don’t expect your display to make the sales. Avoid using draws as the sole means for getting someone into your booth. They should find your display interesting, and after a discussion and/or sale and it's determined they are a qualified customer, then encourage them to enter in the draw.
  • Your exhibit should reflect the benefits you are selling rather than just features. Show how your product or service meets their needs.
  • Use an interactive medium wherever possible. This may take some extra time and thought, but will leave a stronger, more lasting impression if the attendee can experience your product rather than just look, hear or read.
  • Use pictures in your display if appropriate.Booth design and location are important but both should be combined to focus on the attendees’ needs.Be creative! Show off how unique and exciting your product is and how it can meet specific needs.
  • Use professional-looking signage and display aids:
    • All equipment and signs should be in good repair
    • Print style should be simple and easy to read from a distance of 3 meters
    • Use a variety of up to 2-3 type styles, colors, or sizes. Use in moderation.
    • Effective colours for print include black, blue, green
    • Avoid too little or too much information/writing
    • Language used should be appropriate for your target group. Avoid excessive use of jargon, and speaking above or below their level
    • Use professional sign makers wherever possible
  • Plan the display to avoid a physical barrier between you and the client. Place tables to the side or back of your booth.
  • Make sure the exhibit isn’t too cluttered and busy or too bare.
  • Have support literature available to reinforce your presentation.
  • Use extra carpet in the areas you are standing to prevent tired feet.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your exhibit during the event. Plan for adjustments that may need to be made during the show.

4. Staffing Your Exhibit

You’ve got a professional, appealing exhibit. Staff it with people who truly show a passion for their work. These types of people are good ambassadors for your business, and clients, customers or potential personnel will want to be a part of the product or service you offer.

In staffing your booth:

  • Have at least two people on hand. This way, one person is available while one is occupied with a client, especially if they need to go to another area for their discussion.
  • If only one staff person is available for the show, leave a professional looking sign or message indicating return time from a break.
  • Train staff prior to the show. Make sure they know your objectives for the show and that they are knowledgeable. Being there just to distribute brochures may not be effective.
  • Booth personnel should ask open-ended questions. That way, they can quickly and effectively establish the visitor’s needs. Questions with a yes or no answer may not provide much information or opportunity for further discussion.

How does this compare with your current equipment?
What application do you have in mind?

Image Boosters

  • Product, benefit knowledge
  • Professional attire and groomingName tag and/or company attire
  • Approachable, interested, alert, enthusiastic, confident
  • Supply of business cards and support material
  • Visitors greeted and acknowledged, especially while dealing with another client
  • Listening to find out what the client’s needs areBooth kept clean, neat and attractive
  • Ready to discuss, answer questions and demonstrate.
  • Staff is standing, and at eye level with the attendee, ready for discussion.

Image Killers

  • Eating or drinking while staffing the booth
  • Sitting
  • Reading
  • Standing with arms crossed
  • Hovering or rushing over to people
  • High pressure or hard sell techniques
  • Chatting with colleagues
  • Wandering away, leaving an un-staffed booth
  • Underestimating visitors
  • Being tired. Avoid overdoing it the night before
  • Leaving questions or problems unresolved
  • Running out of special offer products or certificates.

 5. Follow-Up

The trade show does not end when the last client has left your booth. Follow-up on the contacts that you made and kept track of during the show. Prioritize the follow-ups and make the contacts as soon after the show as possible.

Situations that may require follow-up include:

  •  An unresolved question or problem that you had to research
  • The client needed time to make the purchasing decision
  • The attendee was interested in further discussion and booking an appointment.

During the show it is important to keep track of the contacts you make and to jot notes about the nature of the conversation with the client as well as the type of follow-up required. Take a business card file or index card holder to alphabetically file the contact’s name. File their cards with your notes on the back, or put the information on an index card. This will make your follow-up easier!

Prior to making the contacts:

  • Prioritize and make the calls on that priority basis
  • Establish a time frame for the follow-ups
  • Determine who will be responsible for the follow-ups

Follow through on your follow-up!

Contact Verve to See How We Can Increase Your Trade Show Success

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