11 Ways to Improve Your Trade Show Experience

October 12, 2014

For vendors, trade shows are great place to sell products, increase brand recognition, and network with potential clients However, it is also easy to disappear in a sea of competitors. Use these eleven tips to make your business and your trade show booth stand out in the eyes of potential customers:

1.    Send the best trade show staff.

In business, as in life, how we present ourselves reflects on who we are. Technology has changed how we communicate, but face-to-face interaction is still the most effective way to interact with potential customers. At trade shows, the team members you send are the face of your company, so be sure to send the most knowledgeable, personable and eloquent representatives available. In many ways, they’ll say more about your business than a website or brochure ever could.

2.    Appeal to the eye.

Everyone has seen the standard trade show booth – a solid-colored backdrop with a simple sign and a table with brochures and free pens – and we’ve all walked right on past it to the more aesthetically appealing booth a couple of spots down. Incorporating color, lines and lighting will catch visitors’ eyes and draw them to your booth. Go for cool and streamlined rather than cluttered and overwhelmingly informative. Be simple, yet memorable.

3.    Put a logo on it.

A great logo can boost brand recognition, so be liberal with the placement of your business’ logo. Put it everywhere – on signs, display backgrounds, business cards, and free promotional items. Visitors to your booth who use these items at the trade show or away from it are providing you with free advertising. Take advantage of the free advertising.

4.    Have fun!

Suffering through an endless barrage of spiels and sales pitches can make visitors weary and disinterested. Stand out from the crowd by being the fun booth. Spin-the-wheel games, door prizes, photo booths, and drawings encourage interaction between team members and potential clients while increasing your booth’s memorability. As an added bonus, receive free advertising by having visitors use social media to sign up for games and contests. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.

5.    Give away the best free stuff.

Free giveaways are as common at trade shows as brochures and infographics, so be sure your promotional items stand out. While you don’t have to avoid common items like key chains, karabiners, pens, paperweights, and office supplies, you can also opt for seasonal items, like sunglasses or ice scrapers, and useful gadgets, like mobile chargers or reusable water bottles.

Most importantly, stay relevant. Giving away items that relate to your product or service is an incredibly effective method of boosting brand awareness. Here, relevancy and usefulness trump hip gadgetry. For instance, if your company sells mountain climbing equipment, it might be a good idea to give out karabiners stamped with your company’s logo. They relate to your business and create that connection within visitors’ minds, which is the ultimate goal when giving away promotional items.

6.    Demonstrate your product.

As with any potential customer, visitors at a trade show are more likely to remember an experience than they are to remember a sales pitch. Rather than signing customers up to receive free samples at a later date, cut out the middle man and let them try the product right there at your booth. In doing so, team members are engaging with potential customers while simultaneously allowing the product to speak for itself.

7.    Utilize technology.

Modern technology has created new avenues of communication for businesses and consumers. Touch-screen tablets, virtual tours and online tutorials have made it easier now than ever for companies to educate prospective customers about their products and services. More recently, trade show vendors have used programs like iBeacon to send special offers to surrounding phones via text message. Use technology to initiate and facilitate interactions visitors to your booth.

8.    Talk with your neighbors.

Speaking with everyone at a trade show is nearly impossible. However, it is very likely that your neighboring vendors spoke with people you did not. Exchange business cards with them. There may be some overlap, but you’ll also pick up a few new ones as well. Some leads that are unhelpful to you may be useful to them, and vice-versa. This way, both you and your neighbors benefit from the competition.

9.     Set appointments and respond to requests ASAP.

Your product or service will never be as fresh in the visitors’ mind as it is while they are at your both, so make the most out of the few minutes you have with them. Invest in a business card scanner to bring to trade shows and scan each card the day you receive it. Try to contact the business that same day with further information about your company or, better yet, schedule follow-up appointments within the next few days. This increases the likelihood that visitors will remember your business after the trade show.

10.  Promote, promote, promote.

If you’re going to attend a trade show, you should at least try to make it worth your while. Use social media platforms to advertise any deals or discounts offered at your booth in order to attract people to the trade show. Although not everyone who comes to your booth will buy something, it is quite likely that they’ll buy something from another booth. Likewise, you may benefit from one of your competitors promoting the trade show on their Twitter or Facebook.

11.  Don’t lose money to be there.

This last one is fairly straightforward. Start scouting out leads and making appointments weeks before the trade show in order to get an idea of how much business you’ll be able to do, especially if the location is farther away. To save money on supplies, find a simple yet appealing design and reuse as much of it as you can, and avoid spending too much on promotional items. Plan a budget and stick to it. Make sure the event will be worth your time and money before committing.

If you’ve found yourself returning home from a trade show with little or nothing to show for it, consider using some of these tips next time in order to improve your trade show experience. Seize your piece of the trade show pie. 

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Partner Voices

Dallas is home to some of the most impressive meeting spaces in Texas. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas is rated one of the top convention centers in the nation, and many Dallas hotels are well-equipped to host outstanding events of all sizes. But if you are looking for something truly unique, Dallas has plenty of that, too.