“Why Am I Here, Anyway?” – Figure it out Before Your Trade Show!

There comes a time in just about everybody’s life when they take a long look around and ask themselves, “Why am I here, anyway?” College kids do it. Many sports stars and other celebs are caught doing it in public, as they turn from what they’re good at to experimenting with art forms and sports they’re not quite as good at. Famous bands and singers (remember the Beattles!) do it, saying that once you have everything money can buy, those things you bought start looking less worthwhile.

boeing large custom display-resized-600The time to ask that question, however, is NOT when you’re putting up the trade show display unit at your company’s biggest annual show! It’s amazing, but a large number of participants in trade shows don’t set any clear goals for themselves, which usually just sets them up for failure. After all, how can you succeed if you didn’t have any clear definition of “success?”

So, sit back for a moment and think about the last trade show you attended. Why were you there, anyway?

 Some possibilities you might come up with:

  • Build leads
  • Make sales
  • Demo products
  • Impress investors
  • Headhunt
  • Gather consumer impressions
  • Launch a new product

Those are all worthwhile reasons to be at a trade show. The trick is, if you were there to do more than one or two things, you probably weren’t focused, and thus, you probably were not making the best use of your trade show equipment. Like any piece of advertising – and, of course, trade show display units are fundamentally advertising – they need to be targeted.

You should have one or two clear goals for each trade show, and then build your trade show banner displays and other graphics around those desires. Trying to do a little of everything just means not doing anything particularly well.

Here are a few tips for helping your future trade show displays be a bit more focused:

Ask yourself: “What’s the most important task for this trade show display unit?”

This might be obvious or it might not, but generally speaking, if you look at your goals and your overall strategy, you probably will have one or two items jump to the top as the most important at the moment. This should tell you something about your overall strategy.

If you have a new prodpronto banner standsuct debuting, a trade show would be the perfect place to do it. However, you shouldn’t focus your graphics different images or fill your booth with other items; you want the new debut to be the focus, and all your literature should be focused on it. On the other hand, if you’re there primarily to network, you’d want more staffers and more take-home forms of information.

Set clear and informed goals.

Based on your previous decision, sit down and really think about what “success” would mean. How many leads are you realistically trying to generate? How many new sales are you trying to make? How many new members of the public do you want to meet?

Don’t just say “as many as possible.” Do some research into the attendance of the show and try to set realistic numbers to strive for. (Hopefully numbers that make your convention displays a profitable investment.) This gives your booth staff firm goals to shoot for, and helps you revise your plans for next show if you don’t do as well as you hoped.


Design Your Display and Banner Graphics Around Your Goal

Knowing your goals ahead of time makes setting up your booth easier as well. If you want people trying out your products, hands-on, you’d want a fairly large open space with trade show kiosks highlighing the focus on the key products and making them easy to reach. If networking is the goal, consider some comfortable trade show carpet and trade show furniture to encourage visitors to stay and rest – add some munchies and drinks. Have an expert design great graphics showing off the best features of your new products and services.

Don’t forget these goals when ordering materials, either. Some research into expected attendance can also inform decisions like how many pamphlets or freebie promotional items to order. Your on-site tactics will flow directly from your overall strategy, so the more clear your strategy is, the easier it will see how to work towards it.

In short…

Go into a trade show with a clear idea of why you’re there and what, exactly, you want out of it. A clear strategy will translate directly into more successful trade shows and convention displays that pay for themselves.

For more, check out how to score a touchdown at trade shows or how to gather trade show intelligence.

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