Our Best Tips, Tricks & Secrets for a Successful Trade Show

Does it seem to you that some businesses have it all together when exhibiting at a trade show? Almost like they have the secret recipe for networking and bringing back a positive return on investment.

Their secret is it’s no secret at all, it’s simply this:

A successful trade show is measured by how much effort you want to put into it.

Yes you read that right. Sounds simple, or is it. Being that we are a trade show display company, we’ve attended many and have seen a thing or two at different trade shows. So here’s our best tips, tricks & secrets for a successful trade show.

#1 Find out who will be attending
Most trade shows provide an attendee or exhibitor list in advance. This is very valuable information. Before the show, figure out which contacts you think may be interested in your business. Consider reaching out to let them know you’d love to meet them and encourage them to stop by your booth. Don’t make the mistake of spamming their inbox by selling your product or service right away though. Keep the first contact with them cordial and personal.

#2 Be physically prepared
Trade shows are known to be draining, mentally and physically. If you’re an extrovert, you might not have any trouble with the busy, sometimes chaotic atmosphere. But if you’re more of an introvert, you could find your energy depleted halfway through the day.

Get a good night’s rest before the event and stay hydrated during the event. Steer clear of alcohol if it’s being served as this will just wear you down. You’re going to be standing and interacting with people for hours on end, so try to get out for some fresh air to clear your mind and get your blood pumping.

#3 First impressions are everything – no, really

Make a first good impression

Yes, we are going to say it…You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Studies show that your first impression has a high correlation with the long-term status of your relationship. Our first opinion of someone forms in only one tenth of a second and you only have 3 seconds to grab the attention of potential customers.

This doesn’t only apply to your personality and appearance though, it also applies to your trade show display set-up. We realize not all companies have a big trade show budget, but one thing that should never be left to chance is the trade show display representing your company.

Other than the timing of your first impression, whatever you do don’t sit down in your booth. You should always be face-to-face when greeting attendees as this implies you’re excited to be there, which makes them excited to be there. If you need a break, walk away and sit outside or sit in a common area. And don’t leave drinks and food around the booth either.

#4 Make your trade show booth stand out
Most trade shows will provide you with a 6ft or 8ft folding table, but they do not provide a table cover. Make sure to get one that complements your display and represents your company’s image and color scheme nicely. Arrange the items on your trade show display table in levels. Put the larger items at the rear, shorter items in front of those, and even shorter items in front of those. It make seem obvious, but you want to make sure your table looks organized.

Use a stand-alone presentation board, table top display, pop up display or banner stand to highlight your business with photos, and also show how clients can benefit by using your products or services. Be creative with photos and designs t insure your company will stand out from your neighbors. Just be sure your company name and logo are more than obvious within the design. Your goal is to get noticed, not ignored.

#5 Welcome your visitors with a smile

“Show us your smile”

This is quite possibly the most important tip: be friendly and inviting. Say “Hello” to those walking by or that turn and look toward you or your trade show booth. Strike up a conversation, small talk and be sure to have a short introductory speech ready. And remember to have fun!

#6 Use video or slide show presentations to draw attention
Develop a video or slideshow presentation to display on TV monitors in your booth. There are various stands and racks available for mounting flat screens for trade shows or you can rent or borrow this equipment if you don’t already have it. Your visitors will find this visually appealing, and it will draw their attention into your booth.

#7 Have plenty of giveaways – and business cards
Be sure to pack plenty of trade show giveaways such as brochures, pens, magnets, and anything else that has your company name and/or logo on it. The use of a display rack for showing your flyers, specials, brochures, and such is an inexpensive way to organize the clutter. And don’t forget your business cards! Your business card is basically an invitation for extended conversation beyond the trade show and at the very least a reminder of who you are.

Most people who attend trade shows are expecting to take home some sort of goodie. If you’re looking for something different to give away, pre-packaged food with your company contact information on it is an easy giveaway.

#8 Follow up fast
Follow up with leads a day or two after the show. It’s the most dreadful job after exhibiting at a show but it is also the one task that allows you to rate your ROI and decide of a particular trade show is worth going to in the future. Get back with people quickly. Even better, set appointments during the show so you are on your prospects calendar. Trust us, the longer you wait the longer they have to forget who you are and what you said.

It might seem odd, but people really don’t have many interactions at trade shows. And as much as you want to believe yours were different or epic, trade shows can be somewhat of a whirlwind and it’s tough to remember everyone’s name and product after the show.

Final Tip
Give it your all, every time. Take plenty of time to prepare, because trade shows are a big investment so make it worth it. We understand standing at a trade show sounds easy; but it’s far from easy. It requires a ton of planning and hard work, but it’s also a beneficial marketing opportunity that can provide huge benefits if done right. Plan well, have fun, and be open to interacting with new people, because you never know who you’ll meet.

Finally, after it’s all said and done, learn from your mistakes, keep tabs on what worked and what didn’t, make adjustments, and get ready for the next show!

How To Build Better Brand Awareness

Let’s start with a Brand Awareness Test. Take a few moments review the graphic below.

Brand Awareness for Trade Shows

 

  1. How long did it take you to recognize these logos?
  2. What makes it easy to recognize brands?
  3. Is the color or style of the logo recognizable enough you don’t even need additional text or the business name to accompany it?

Every single one of these big brands have spent ALOT of time and money insuring their brand is recognized quickly and the consumer knows their product by heart. The main goal of every business, large or small, is to get on top of the competition and stay there. This takes good brand awareness. But what exactly is brand awareness?

noun: brand awareness

the extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services. “a campaign to increase brand awareness”

Brand awareness happens when someone remembers your brand from previously seeing something like your logo, slogan or company name. When talking brand awareness you must also consider brand recognition.

Customers recognize your business in three steps: 1) your logo/business name, 2) knowledge of your products/services and 3) overall feeling of your business. For example there’s no doubt you would recognize the Starbucks logo from a mile away or the McDonald’s famous arches. This brand recognition didn’t happen overnight.

Consider this: If people don’t know who you are, they can’t purchase your product or service when they need it. Building brand awareness builds your reputation and drives customers to your business to purchase. It’s a very important when marketing new customers, retaining old customers and standing out in the crowd.

How can you build this same brand awareness for your small business?

Brand awareness is all about baby steps and patience. You have to understand people aren’t going to remember you after seeing your logo once or twice. It’s your overall marketing presence and consistency on multiple channels that eventually earns customers’ trust. Build a marketing strategy that is unique and creative to beat out your competitors.

Define your audience

Defining your specific target audience and developing buyer trends is super important because you can’t afford to target everyone. The more focused your audience is, the better they will engage with your brand. Simply put, your target audience is the group of people you’re making your products and services for. It’s the foundation for your brand awareness so by concentrating on your target audience you’re able to see a much better return on your investment.

Consistency Is Key

It’s important to stay consistent on all platforms – from print advertising, social media, your website and blogging. We’re sure you already know the importance of consistency, but it’s always good to get a reminder.

If you as a brand are consistent in everything you do you will become a trusted and reliable source for customers to return to again and again. And you will have a higher chance of ranking in search.

Invest in Social Media

Staying current on your social media outlets is a must these days. Scrolling through any social media platform you’re sure to come across a sponsored ad (or two or twenty) with a catchy photo accompanied by some text. When setting up your ads, choose a photo that resonates with your audience with a minimal amount of text within the image or no text at all.

Adding your logo subtly in the bottom corner can also help you build brand awareness. Make sure you are using your brand’s target keywords with any text description of your ad that way if someone is searching for “trade show displays” on Facebook, the likelihood of your post showing up is greater.

But don’t just run ads on social media – you should also be posting regularly too. And you should also be replying to comments and messages. This gives an instant sense of trust when you provide a solution to their problem quickly. Make a conscious effort to interact with your customers.

Consider this: All ads, whether print or social media, should be cohesive with each other across all platforms. You don’t want the consumer to get confused by your branding or see a lapse in branding. Using the same types of imagery, fonts, colors and logos has been proven to significantly increase brand awareness over time.

Partner With Other (Bigger) Brands

If you are a smaller brand looking to build brand awareness, partner with established brands to have giveaways or even collaborate on a product.

If you are a smaller brand just starting out ready to build brand awareness, it’s time to turn to Instagram and find brands that you would like to work with. Engage with them on social media and once you have built a relationship you can ask them to collaborate. Instagram giveaways are perfect for building brand awareness. It’s a simple way to get your name out there and to meet other brands and influencers in your market.

Provide Value by Blogging

Another great way to build brand awareness is to provide value to your customers by writing a blog! Blogging weekly is a great way to keep your audience engaged. If it’s impossible for you or someone in your company to update the blog weekly or bi-weekly, consider hiring a blog writing service. Also, make sure you’re providing interesting and relevant topics for your readers to keep them engaged. An easy way to come up with blog topics is to listen to your clients problems and provide a solution.

Consider this: Search engines are looking for your blog posts, so be sure to plug in some top ranking keywords within your text. Writing blogs for SEO (search engine optimization) can be challenging at first but with the right keyword, this just may be how potential customers find you.

Final Thoughts

Did you know it’s rare for a visitor to convert to a buyer the first time they interact with your brand. Building relationships with your customers will allow them to feel more confident ordering from you or using your services. And brand awareness is just another opportunity to build a lasting relationship with customers.

But don’t think that once you have the following of a loyal customer that’s it, you’re done advertising and never have to worry about brand awareness ever again! Nope, not even close. Even big companies like Amazon and Google continue to research and build their brand awareness to remain current with their target audience.

Bottom line, all aspects of marketing need attention on a regular basis for you to reap the benefits. You wouldn’t plant beautiful flowers and expect for them to grow without water, would you?

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”  –Niklas Goeke