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!

Fun, Fresh Ideas to Step Up Your Trade Show Game

Trade shows might be for business, but they don’t have to be all business. It’s time to up your trade show game to make your investment worth your time, increase return and finally get people to engage in your brand.

Most people describe a trade show like this: people wandering up and down aisles glancing at booths with no rhyme or reason as to exactly why they are even there. Some of them were told by their boss to go make an appearance at the trade show, while others went there on their own free will. No matter the reason they are there, you need to remind them why they went. There are tons of ideas out there to help you embrace new business and bring new excitement to your brand. Don’t get comfortable and continue doing the same old thing. It’s time to shake things up and take your trade show experience to the next level with these fun, fresh ideas.

Up Your Marketing Game

The right marketing before a trade show event has the ability to get people talking, sharing, and engaging. You can go all in or stick with a budget. And with the addition of social media, organizations large and small are finally embracing before the show marketing.

Create some hype before you arrive on the trade show floor by utilizing a partial reveal just to get people talking. For instance, include a statement in your marketing that mentions something huge will be revealed at the show but only to those who visit your booth. What’s the big surprise? Well thats is up to you. It could be:

  • A big company announcement
  • A new sponsor or collaboration reveal
  • A prize for a contest winner

The whole point is to cause curiosity and draw attention to your booth at the show. The best thing that can happen to you at a trade show is a crowd!

Marketing Made Fun

Here’s where the fun comes in. It’s all about involving your attendees and making them want to participate in marketing your business. Here’s the trick though – it has to be easy! If it’s complicated, most people won’t engage. Try to stick to simple ideas that no one can say no to.

Humor: Create a “hidden” camera scenario where something unexpected happens and you record your attendees’ reactions to things. You could even stream their reactions in real time if you have the right type of audience.

Scrolling Message Board: Utilizing a large screen within your booth space or in the middle of the trade show floor, encourage attendees to post on social media about your company at the show, using a certain hashtag or emoji to get on the message board. You’ll be surprised how this will motivate people to do some silly things to get on that message board. All the while, they are promoting your brand or company with a simple post on Facebook or Twitter!

Interactive Walls: It could be as simple as creating one out of post-it notes, a whiteboard or chalkboard surface. Propose a question and ask people to respond or invite them to post their business card to show that they were there. When they show is over, you could post a photo to boast how successful your show was and ask if they can locate their contribution.

Mini Contests: Throughout the day, host quick contests to draw in with attendees walking by your booth. Make themes based on well known games, like would you rather or simon says. Your prizes should be worth their time so you’ll not only draw in willing participants, but you’ll also create buzz and give people a reason to stop by your booth.

Photo Booth: Trust us, photo booths aren’t just for weddings! As each attendee walks onto your exhibit floor, give them a mask or a prop with your booth number written on the back telling them to visit your photo booth. They will be so intrigued, that they’ll have to stop by your booth for a photo. A little bit of fun not only entertains it serves as a great conversation starter as well.

Offer A Mid-Show Snack: Just as the mid-day slump rolls around, so will you offering up a mid-day goodie! Stroll the exhibit hall with an an ice cream cart or a popcorn cart. Just make sure your snack offering is portable and branded with your logo. That way you can serve a refreshing snack throughout the exhibition floor, with the intention of enticing people to visit your booth.

In Conclusion

One of the best ways to switch things up at your next trade show is to create an unexpected experience. The goal is to condition your audience to expect the unexpected. Surprises are some of the most memorable aspects of life so take advantage of this even at a trade show.

Trade shows can either be really fun and memorable or really boring and not worth your time. The decision is yours. But one thing we’ve learned from our previous trade show experience is this – we should all embrace the trade show with a smile and a laugh.

Questions To Ask When It’s Your Trade Show Off Season

Here’s the typical scenario: trade show season begins and you invest in two or three trade shows or marketing events because you expect to see a return on your investment. You prepare, attend, gather leads – then you’re back at the office with that “high on life” attitude ready to follow up on those precious leads and convert them into new business.

But workflow and life gets in the way.  And instead you come home, check emails, look at the work piling up on your desk and play catch-up. Unfortunately this often ends in business-as-usual mode and an unwelcome back to reality wondering where all your motivation went.

We hear about this all the time.

But how do you change this vicious cycle that could be hurting your trade show investment? Well, quite simply you have to make the time. Here’s a few tips on how to maintain the positive momentum and take advantage of your hard work after the shows wrap for the season.

Ask yourself “why, how and who”

Why am I participating in trade shows? Great question, right – but do you have an answer? Deciding to participate in a particular trade show is the easy part; it’s figuring out why you chose that show thats most important. You could be looking for a way to build brand awareness, or increase distribution of your new products. It could also be that you would like to focus on client relations as a way to nurture the face-to-face relationship. Nail down your WHY and determine a clear initiative that aligns with your business strategy to move it forward.

How am I going to measure attendance? Counting leads is the first step to measuring your success at the end of a show, but try and find a way to measure attendance before the show as well. Consider this – it’s like placing an ad on Facebook, choosing how many people to target then going back to see how many people you actually reached. You need to understand your return on investment to insure you marketing efforts are working for you. Just ask and you shall receive! Ask the show organizer to give you numbers based on last years attendance to help you decide whether a particular show is even worth attending.

Who am I targeting at the show? You might be exhibiting at a high traffic, well marketed trade show, but have you figured out how to actually get them to visit your booth? Some of you might get stuck on the number of people that visited your tradeshow booth instead of measuring their legit interest in your products or services. Quantity doesn’t equal quality. Don’t settle for 300 basic leads when you could have 50 well-qualified leads. By singling out the type of clients you want, you can plan your presentation more effectively reel them in – hook, line and sinker!

 

Bottom line: The show does not end when you get home. It’s so important to take the time to reflect on your current trade show season and put your newfound knowledge to work for your company. And the best time to do this is NOW – before you’re routine tasks suck you in again and before you realize you have to be in full-on trade show season mode…again.

Need a trade show display? Shop online and buy now at AffordableDisplays.com.

21 Things You’ve Probably Done at a Trade Show (You Might Never Do Anywhere Else)

If you’ve ever been a trade show exhibitor, not just an attendee, there are some things that happen during the long trade show day you may never consider doing in any other business situation.

While many of these behaviors might seem normal to the seasoned exhibitor, others might as well be considered “weird” to anyone else who has never experienced the trade show floor. We decided it would be fun to collaborate and came up with short list of (funny) situations you may recognize. Check them out and let us know if you have more to add!

  1. Wear the same outfit as your co-worker
  2. Nonchalantly walk by another booth and grab anything on the table that appears to have a value (candy, hats, pens, mugs…)
  3. Chat with an ungodly amount strangers, sometimes about nothing at all
  4. Gaze over at the double-padded carpet in booth #828 because your choice of shoes were for fashion and not comfort
  5. Party until the wee hours of the morning with co-workers and not ever talk about it after
  6. Ask a complete stranger for a breath mint and blame it on the free coffee
  7. Pretend the person you are talking to doesn’t need the breath mint more than you
  8. Act completely interested in small talk for hours on end
  9. Complain about how much you loathe setting up and taking down your booth
  10. Be completely convinced that a 15 minute conversation will lead to your biggest sale
  11. Explain, once again, to your family that it’s a “business trip” and not a vacation
  12. Sneak off to the bathroom just for quiet time
  13. Hide behind your booth curtain to scarf down your box lunch
  14. Try and find a way not to stare at everyone’s name badge before introducing yourself
  15. Convince yourself that the 228 business cards collected are solely interested in your business and not the giveaway
  16. Re-introduce yourself to the same person three times
  17. Politely take brochures from anyone and everyone walking by because you can’t say no then discard of them after the show when no one’s looking
  18. Have a permanent smile on your face to the point your cheeks hurt
  19. Stand awkwardly alone in your booth when your co-worker decides they want to walk around
  20. Be shocked at how quickly your booth is to take down compared to when you set it up
  21. Stress because you can’t find your business cards then remember throwing them in the bottom of your the display case at the end of your last trade show

How to use the 5 Senses at a Trade Show Event

Learning how to engage all of your 5 senses at a trade show, conference or event may seem like a daunting task but we’ve got a few tips to get you going.

A trade show is full of sensory overload.  And being a company that sells trade show displays we’d typically blog about well… trade show displays. But this post focuses upon a whole different take on a trade show.  Meet your 5 senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.  It’s called sensory branding.  According to WikipediaSensory branding is a type of marketing that appeals to all the senses in relation to the brand. It uses the senses to relate with customers on an emotional level. Brands can forge emotional associations in the customers’ minds by appealing to their senses.”  

It’s pretty easy to say that sight would be the most important at a trade show but the other 4 senses contribute considerably to the overall value of attending or exhibiting at a trade show.   The ultimate secret to creating an experience around your trade show display is to integrate the full 5 senses, not just one or two.  Here’s how you can do just that.

  • Sight: Let’s start with the most obvious of the senses.  As you would expect sight is the most important at a trade show.  The many colors, the lights, the people, the interactions, the constant need to read each booth as you pass by, products galore to look at, competitors, hundreds of individuals weaving in and out of traffic flow, and then commotion within your own booth space.  That’s a lot to take in – even for the most seasoned exhibitor.  That’s why it’s important to ensure your own booth space is clean, clear and concise with its message.  With so many other distractions it’s important to ensure your booth space focuses on directing and controlling where the potential customer is looking and for how long.  Oh and of course that your message and brand is understood immediately.
  • Sound: A trade show floor is bustling with noises.  The overhead speaker, the hundreds of conversations being crossed over one another, booth spaces with videos, live presentations, and so on.  To get past all of that noise why not try and create an environment within your booth space that is inviting enough that attendees will want to stop and maybe even take a break from all of the commotion.  Couches, chairs or a quiet meeting area just might be the ticket.

  • Touch: Think about the last time you went to your local department store.  What sense did you use the most while you were there?  Touch.  You touched anything that caught your eye, anything that interested you, anything that sparked you to want, need and then ultimately buy.  Think about it: before you bought it; you touched it.  How does this relate to a trade show?  Simply remember to put your best foot forward and give customers the ability to touch, feel, and try out whatever it is you’re looking to sell.  And, if you don’t have a tangible product that you are selling then make sure you have enticing giveaways.  The giveaways can reel in potential customers in the same way an actual physical product can.

  • Smell: Believe it or not, the smell is considered to be a fast track to the part of your brain that controls both emotion and memory, two very prominent factors behind why we choose one brand over another.  If you can create your own smell within your booth space then do it.  You may think well I don’t sell candles or fragrances.  That’s okay.  What you can do instead is make sure you at least smell nice.  Sounds funny but who doesn’t sweat like crazy at a trade show.  So keep deodorant, hand lotion or even your favorite perfume handy. You also need to be enticing just as much as your product and booth space is.

  • Taste: This, of course, is the most important sense when you sell an edible product.  For example, let’s say you sell a Gluten free, Dairy free and Soy free cookie snack.  I know what you’re thinking. YUM!  Just having a trade show backwall describing your special yummy cookie isn’t going to get you more business that’s for sure.  Your product is free of a lot of components that are in most food today so to actually sell it your potential buyer they must taste it.  Looking at a pretty backdrop or packaging isn’t going to sell your cookie; it’s about actually tasting it.  Always, always have samples on hand.  That’s the magic touch to your booth space so make sure you have enough samples on hand to entice passersby to stop and want to taste but most importantly know your product exists and then to buy your product.  

At the end of the day if you can’t hit all of the 5 senses within your booth space it’s okay.  Just be aware of how they all do affect overall trade show floor experience.  Try to do what you can to keep the 5 senses in mind and focus on the ones that will best propel your brand and brand experience with your potential customers.

How to be a Trade Show Workaholic

Become a better trade show exhibitor with our Pro tips
Simple tasks you can incorporate into your next trade show, conference or marketing event.

A workaholic can be defined as a person who compulsively works hard and long hours.  If you’ve ever prepared for, been in charge of, or walked the floors while at a trade show then it’s pretty obvious a workaholic is what you need to be when planning for a trade show.

Even though all of those long hours have been put into the preparation leading up to the trade show, you can’t forget there’s still the actual day or days of the event.  Now the fun truly begins when you need to turn from the educated trade show planner who knows what drayage is to booth space worker.  And so the workaholic in you continues with these simple tasks you can incorporate into your next trade show, conference or marketing event. 

Who should work your booth

You’ll want to choose the right people with the right knowledge.  For example, if you are recruiting for sales then make sure both HR and some sales staff are attending.  If you are pushing your wholesale line of products, then you’ll want the wholesale sales staff there and not the IT guy who knows nothing about sales or your wholesale product  lines.  

Once your staff is chosen, you’ll want to make sure they are prepared to actually work the tradeshow booth.  Buy an audio book to have the staff listen to or even just a simple YouTube video or two can go along way in refreshing the staff on how to look, act and feel the days during the show. A trade show ultimately might be about sales, but it’s also about building and retaining relationships.  So make sure they put the best attitude on!

Getting people into your booth

It’s really quite simple.  Be friendly, make eye contact and smile.  But more specifically ask people one of the following things:

(1) “What brings you to the show today?”  

(2) “We’ve got ‘X’ being raffled off today and just a business card will get you entered.  Would you like to join?”  

(3)  Have you… fill in the blank with what question is best to ask attendees to see if they qualify as your ‘hot target’ or not.  

Example: Our client, Custom Service Solutions, figured out through their past shows that asking the simple question, “Do you use compressed air at your shop?” quickly qualified attendees on whether or not their one-of-a-kind product MiJet would be useful or not.  Think about what hotpoint question you can ask to get more potential attendees to stay in your booth space!

up your swag game

Your staff’s most valuable job next to getting attendees in your booth space is giving away your branded promotional items.  And the easiest way to do this is to have your staff circulate through the show giving out swag.  Our best advice is to make your swag an easy to carry, memorable and so useful they will want to keep it and use it. Listen, everyone gives away pens – okay they are useful but definitely not memorable. How about something like silly putty in an egg that will surely put a smile on their faces or the faces of their kids. Definitely consider the cost though. If your swag is expensive like a stainless steel water bottle or a sampling of your own product, then save it for the ones who will truly gain from your giveaway.

Do have a raffle

Collecting business cards is crucial at a trade show.  After all, it’s your mailing list for follow-ups.  And the best way to collect business cards is to hold a raffle.  A great idea is to have raffle off an item or items that are the ‘it’ item of the month.  Something that is so super-cool everyone will want to stand in line just to put their card in your raffle bowl.  The busier your booth space is the more other attendees will want part of the action.  Of course, don’t forget the after show raffle work too.  Send out an email thanking them for participating and softly let them know they didn’t win, but invite them to join your mailing list or an upcoming webinar you’re hosting.  

Impress upon show etiquette

Do NOT ever sit in your booth space! Remember no one cares if your feet hurt or how tired you are.  Even if there is a chair in the booth, leave it empty.  Improving your trade show image is also important and standing up, looking ready for anything is one of them.  Plus, if you were not the one who planned this booth space, be respectful of the time and effort that went into it by not sitting.  The point of a trade show is the face-to-action so get out there in front of as many people as possible. Your company is paying hundreds to thousands or even tens of thousands for you to be there and a trade show is ultimately a short period of time.

———————————————————–

If you are interested in purchasing a portable trade show display for your next trade show or event, contact us here!

Don’t forget to LIKE US on Facebook to see more of our portable displays and banner stand options!

Quick Tip: Put Your Trade Show Game Face On

Put your positive game face on at a trade show.
A positive attitude will be remembered better than a negative one.

Put your game face on because attitude is everything when you want to be remembered at a trade show.  Improving your image and demeanour is the reason why your attitude at a trade show makes the overall feel of your booth space memorable.

It is the expertise and professional demeanor of booth staffers that people will remember the most, despite all of your display magic. Remember to sound fresh and excited when talking to each prospective client – every interaction is a chance to make sales and generate leads.

Most of all, project confidence to show that you really believe and are excited about your product. Your enthusiasm will be contagious!

 

3 Ways to Capture More Trade Show Leads

Keep it simple with these lead gathering tips
Trade Show Lead Gathering Tips

Preparing for and attending your next presentation may be a lot of work, but the real value of being at a trade show — why it’s worth your time & money — comes when you follow up on the leads and contacts you make. Here are a few simple ways to capture those leads:

–Business Card Gathering is a great way to have all of your potential prospects information in one spot.

–Create a lead gathering form to fill out and staple their business card to. It could also be a survey for your prospect to fill out with four to six simple questions and a section for them to note contact information to follow up.

–Obtain their information in a less obvious way by asking them to sign up for your Newsletter or by having them sign up for a giveaway on your service or product. A win-win situation!

All attendees want to give their information in a very short period of time, so try to keep it simple. Also, be sure to organize all forms and business cards at the end of each day of the show, while all is still fresh in your mind. Positive response is everything in the business world — not just by the first impression either, the second and third count too.

The MOST Important Trade Show Investment

The Most Important Trade Show Investment
Success at a trade show depends upon this one important piece.

“A positive attitude is an individual choice that impacts the whole team.”

The people that staff your Trade Show booth are an investment in the overall success of the show just as the display and graphics are. They make up the ‘feel’ of your booth. Not only should the booth staffers be an expert with your product or service, they must be your most ‘people oriented’ individuals as they represent your image.
Be sure to choose your booth staffers wisely!