A Baker’s Dozen Ways To Make Your Trade Show Booths Stronger
Here are my suggestions for how you can do a better job at your next trade show. Most of the steps aren’t expensive; they just take some planning and preparation, and a dose of good old common sense. Wisely applied to your trade show program, you’ll get more leads and a greater ROI by following this advice.
Participating successfully in a trade show can take a year to accomplish, so don’t shortchange your chances for success by rushing your schedule. Begin planning as soon as you know you want to exhibit at a particular show—ideally at least one year prior. That way, you’ll have time to do the rest of what I’m suggesting, so everything will go off smoothly, efficiently and cost effectively on the show floor.
2) Know Your Audience:
Talk to your best customers to find out which trade shows they attend. Research shows in your industry to determine which are the best fits for you and your prospective clientele. Find out where your competitors exhibit, and how long they’ve been doing so. Talk to show management and find out if your ideal prospects are signing up to attend.
3) Get Buy-In From The C-Suite:
Management can bless or curse your tradeshow plans, and that attitude will percolate down to everyone involved in the trade show booth project. As a first step, be sure to get them on your side. Also, try to get some of them to spend some time on the show floor. It’s a great closer for a prospect to get a chance to meet someone in upper management and ask a question or two.
4) Know Why You’re Going:
Being there just because your competitors are there isn’t a good enough reason. You need to create your own list of goals and objectives that you and your staff will focus on. This may be different for each show you attend, so don’t feel as if streamlining the process to create one master list is the best approach. Compare your goals list with your outcomes at previous shows. Is what you’re hoping to accomplish actually doable?
5) Place Your Orders Early:
All the things you’ll need for your trade show cost more the closer you get to show time. Don’t delay. This includes a new trade show display or graphics, of course, but also the mundane utilities you need to contract the exhibit hall for (electricity, phones, internet service, cleaning, florals, etc.).
If you’re going to need help with installation and dismantling, make those arrangements well ahead of time, too.
Most importantly, while you’re talking with show management, see if there’s an opportunity to get someone from your company to present a seminar or participate in a panel discussion.
Make sure your staffers know what your objectives and goals will be for the show. You can’t hold them responsible for accomplishing them if they don’t know what they are. Consider having them create their own objectives for the show, as well: how many contacts they’ll make, how many product demos they’ll do and how many leads they’ll be responsible for.
7) Pick Your People Carefully:
Send people you’d want to spend time with: outgoing, friendly types who’ll represent your company effectively. Enthusiasm is more important that elder statesman status. The trade show display and the show floor are unique environments. Wallflowers and difficult people don’t make great booth staffers.
8) More Is Better:
It’s counterintuitive to the “Less Is More” principle, but having more people than you need on the show floor is better than losing out on the chance to engage prospects. When you consider a schedule that gives everybody the breaks they need for meals as well as dealing with priorities back at the office, an extra person or two can be a real help.
9) Promote Politeness, Politely:
Your staffers need to meet your expectations on friendliness, manners and body language that says, “I want to be engaged with you.” Make sure they know what that means. If they don’t, consider role playing some typical trade show interactions in your office, prior to the show so you can set a positive example for how they’ll be approaching and dealing with attendees.
10) Dress For Success:
Clarify your expectations about dress codes, from head to toe. In addition to clothes, set boundaries for shoes, jewelry and hair. Every one of your staffers will have their professionalism assessed in seconds by each attendee. Don’t lose the opportunity for a lead or a sale by allowing sloppy appearances. Your company may have relaxed standards for what works in an office, but your trade show display generally isn’t the place for “casual Friday” attire.
11) Put On A Show:
Product demonstrations or live presentations inside your trade show booths are great ways to get your message out to a large percentage of show attendees. TSEA research shows that a presentation is the single most effective way to increase your visibility on the show floor. It’s best to get professional help to create your demo, from a company that specializes in that. It’ll pay dividends.
12) Give Your People A Check-Up:
Don’t leave your team adrift during the show. Check in regularly, letting them know how they’re doing. Reward positive behavior at each opportunity and nip negativity in the bud whenever you can. If you’re new to trade show exhibiting, consider investing in booth staff training for your people.
13) Make Sure Your Trade Show Booth Reflects Your Company Well:
Last, but certainly not least, is to ensure that your physical trade show display and its related graphics are telling the right story for this particular audience. Do your graphics read well? Is your message cohesive? One of the advantages to modular exhibits is the ability to reconfigure your exhibit for both large and small shows, without the expense of custom built exhibit properties.
That’s my take on the most important things you can do as a tradeshow manager to improve the effectiveness of your show program. Have another tip you’d add to the list? Let me know about it.
And if there’s anything we can do to help you get ready for your next trade show, please feel free to call American Image Displays at (425) 556-9511, or email [email protected] We’d welcome the opportunity to help answer questions and sort out your next trade show requirements.