5 Tips for a Successful Trade Show

March 12, 2022

If you’re in an industry where trade shows are a big part of sales and prospecting, then you know just how crucial these events can be for your bottom line. But what exactly makes the difference between an average and a great trade show? Sometimes, the success is in the finer details. What follows are some of our favorite tips for getting oversized results:

1. Plan Ahead

Now that we’re past the height of the pandemic and accompanying shutdowns, we have what’s essentially a full trade show calendar in most industries. This means thousands of different events to choose from. You obviously can’t attend a trade show every weekend, nor would you want to. So it’s imperative that you strategically select the right ones and plan ahead.

There are plenty of fun events on the calendar, but you have to think about which ones give you the best bang for your buck. Typically, this means identifying trade shows that are (a) for your industry or (b) for your target audience. (If you can find an event that’s focused on both, you absolutely have to be there.)

You need months to fully prepare for a trade show. Give yourself plenty of time, and don’t be afraid to plan as far as a year out. This sort of planning will ensure you make the most out of these opportunities.

2. Choose the Right Branding

You want your booth to stand out with the proper branding. This includes logos, colors, layout, booth features, and even the location of your booth within the trade show.

From a signage perspective, make sure your logo is in as many places as possible. Custom cloth banners are a great way to increase exposure without blowing your entire budget. (Plus, they can be reused at future events.)

3. Select the Right People

Just as important as the design of your trade show booth is the people you have working the booth. In fact, having the right members of your team at a trade show can make or break your success.

When forming your trade show event team, here are some of the characteristics you’re looking for:

  • Highly personable. A trade show isn’t a great place for introverts. You want your most gregarious personalities present – people who’ve never met a stranger in their lives. Success at these events is all about rubbing shoulders, small talk, and forming personal relationships.
  • Product knowledge. It’s not enough to be friendly. Your trade show team should also have deep product knowledge that allows them to answer any question that’s thrown their way. It’s an added bonus if they also have extensive knowledge of your brand and have worked at your company for some time.
  • Sales skills. Finally, sales skills are powerful. You won’t always be doing direct selling at a trade show, but you at least want to set your team up for future sales by laying the groundwork.

If you have personable people who are extremely knowledgeable about your products and have a few sales skills to boot, you’ve got a powerful team that can make a big impact.

4. Have Good Hooks

You can think of your trade show booth as a boat and your team as anglers. Your goal is to reel as many good prospects into the boat as you can. And in order to do this, you need the right hooks and bait.

Good hooks are anything that gets people to stop walking and start paying attention. This could include interactive technology, free snacks, giveaways, contests, or product demos. Spend a lot of time developing your hooks, and you’ll have much better results.

5. Master the Follow Up

So much of a trade show’s success happens in the days after the event ends. This is where you have the chance to follow up with all of the different leads and contacts you made at the trade show. It’s important that you act quickly here. You should make direct contact with every name on your list within 72 hours (and ideally within 36 to 48 hours). If you haven’t made contact within this timeframe, it gets a lot more difficult.

Adding it All Up

Attending a trade show isn’t cheap. Between the booth design, the event registration fees, the transportation, and all of the different resources and materials used, it can cost thousands of dollars just for the few hours you’re there. And if you’re going to invest that kind of money, you want to make sure you’re getting a positive ROI.

Hopefully, this article has given you some useful food for thought as you look for ways to do more with less.


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