Exhibiting at a trade show is a wonderful opportunity to meet prospects and connect with current customers. But—in order to reap the rewards you seek—preparation, execution and follow up are the name of the game.
1. Do your research
After you’ve booked your booth space, be sure to attend to any action-items and deadlines leading up to the show. Have you submitted your company info for the show website and onsite directory? When do you have to place your order for booth furniture, lighting, and other onsite services? Make sure to keep these types of dates and deadlines handy, and/or assign someone on your team to manage the planning calendar.
2. Set goals
Why are you exhibiting at the show, and what do you want to get out of it? Think about your goals so you can plan your booth, staffing, and other strategy accordingly. And how will you measure success—perhaps by number of leads generated, meetings planned, products sold, or something else? Know what you hope to achieve before you arrive.
3. Design your booth accordingly
Your booth should be designed in order to best meet your goals. Are you hoping to show off a new product? If so, make sure it’s front and center. Do you need/want seating for staff? How about attendees? Think all of this through before you place your order for booth furniture and other services. Also keep in mind the total square footage of the space to ensure that everything fits comfortably.
4. Promote your show presence ahead of time
Maximize your booth experience as much as possible by promoting your presence leading up to the event. Follow and use the trade show’s Twitter hashtag and other social media platforms. You may also wish to advertise your presence in relevant publications/websites and send emails to let your customers know you’ll be there. Or, does it make sense to be in the show’s mobile app? Consider what will give you the most exposure for your budget.
5. Train your staff
Your onsite booth staff needs to know what is expected of them. If you haven’t shared with them the goals of the show, do so. And here are some pointers you can share with them for when they are working the booth:
* Smile and have a positive attitude
* Be welcoming, courteous, and make eye contact with attendees
* Greet attendees by name
* Dress and act professionally at all times
* Avoid chewing gum and eating
* Keep the booth tidy and any literature well organized
* Don't spend time talking or texting on your cell phone, unless absolutely necessary
* Breaks are of course necessary, but make sure someone is staffing the booth at all times
6. Engage visitors
Beyond being friendly and welcoming, there are other ways to ensure your booth entices visitors. Promotional items are always a big hit, as are contests and giveaways. Demonstrations are also a great strategy to get people interested and engaged. Also be sure you have enough collateral and other literature, targeted toward the type(s) of attendees who might stop by.
7. Know whom to contact on site
In case of any issue with your booth, be sure you know how to reach the appropriate person—whether your account manager, show coordinator, exhibitor services personnel, etc.—when you’re onsite.
8. Plan for move-out
Each facility, contractor, and show comes with its own move-out protocols. But, be sure you’ve pre-arranged your outbound shipping and have all the labels and shipping containers you need. Pay attention to the process for retrieving anything you’ve put into storage at the venue and the timeline for getting such back at the end of the show.
9. Follow up
After you’ve had a great show, don’t let the momentum fade. Be sure to follow up with new leads as well as existing customers. You may want to create a multi-part email campaign to deploy in the weeks after the show—recapping any new products and services you introduced there, showcasing new content, and encouraging leads to get in touch.
A little organization and planning goes a long way in making sure you have a great first-time exhibit; have a great show!