Trade Show Booth Ideas and Planning

So you’re eager to get to your first trade show, set up your booth, find your leads, and gain new customers and clients for your business, right? Which show are you going to? Do you have any trade show booth ideas? Will you need a gazebo, some banner stands, or a full backdrop?

We’ve already talked about where you should look for potential boothbuddy_mainimage-resized-600trade show opportunities, and you’ve discovered there is a multitude of shows to choose from. However, if you don’t know what you hope to gain from exhibiting, if you don’t have clear goals established, you may choose the wrong trade show from the beginning and accomplish nothing worthwhile for your business, basically killing your ROI. Nobody likes the sound of that, so let’s take a minute or two and talk about your goals and expectations for exhibiting.

Most companies laying out their initial trade show booth ideas for trade shows say their biggest goal is to gain a large number of sales leads. Maybe that’s your biggest goal too. However, it’s not the only reason that organizations set up a trade show booth at a show. Sometimes their goal is to increase their exposure in a given industry. Sometimes, rather than trying to establish new contacts, organizations will exhibit in an effort to maintain business relationships that already exist or to develop contacts with the media that may help promote their company. It’s important for you to decide which one of these is your main goal, prior to selecting a show or starting to work on trade show booth ideas.

low_gg2_sm_70-resized-600If you’ve decided that your main goal is to gather as many good sales leads as possible (which will hopefully turn into new customers), you need to have a clearly defined picture of your targeted customer and a great plan for following up on leads. This knowledge makes choosing trade shows and trade show booth ideas easier because you’re able to search for the shows that attract your targeted leads. Quality trade shows will offer their exhibitors attendee lists (some for free, some for a fee) so that you’re able to see who is planning to attend the show. Make sure that your targeted customers are represented well on those lists. If they aren’t; look at another show. Other show events that can be advantageous to gathering leads are receptions given within the exhibit hall and networking events both pre-show and during the show.

For those of you who have decided that maintaining current business relationships is your primary goal, then you definitely want to be attending the shows your major customers attend. How do you find out which trade shows they attend? Ask! If your organization has personal account representatives, have those reps call their clients and ask which trade shows they regularly attend. If your company doesn’t have those types of representatives, then you’ll need to survey your clients somehow – through email, phone calls, or possibly even snail mail – offering incentives to those who reply. Once you’ve compiled your customers’ responses into a list, check out the shows on the list, evaluating which ones offer the most opportunities to socialize and network. And then start working on trade show booth ideas that fit these customers and shows.

If you’ve decided that your main goal is to increase your company’s exposure within the industry, then advertising opportunities at trade shows are your new best friend. You want to be searching for the shows that offer the most advertising opportunities at the best price. Don’t worry, there are plenty of places to put your company’s name and/or logo at a trade show: signage inside and outside the exhibition hall; advertisements in the show guide, on the show lanyards, on the show’s website, and on key cards at the show’s hotel; and sponsoring an event at the show are all common opportunities.

Although you should always have some sort of press release available at any show where you exhibit, making media contacts should only be your main goal if you have a new (or improved) product to introduce. If this is the case, then you’ll more than likely need to be looking at national shows as these shows garner the highest number of media attendees. You may also want to look for opportunities to link your press release to the show’s website, to include your press kit in the press room at the show, and to access the list of media contacts attending the show, so that you may attempt to arrange a meeting with the media during the show.

As you can see, organizations attend trade shows for different reasons. Make sure that you know why you want to exhibit at a show before you start looking at them so that you can find the shows that will best help you meet (or exceed!) your goals.

For more, check out trade show pizzaz and planning or our article on stand design planning.

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