How to Build Your Trade Show Success in 7 Steps

July 26, 2013

Timothy Carter

Timothy Carter is the Director of Business Development for the Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency AudienceBloom. When Timothy isn't telling the world about the great work his company does, he's planning his next trip to Hawaii while drinking some Kona coffee.

Planning and executing a successful trade show isn't smoke and mirrors. People love attending trade shows, and vendors are excited to show their stuff and make new leads and connections. So, the basis for your show already is in place. All you have to do is set it up and market it smartly.

Choose a Convenient Venue

Small cities and towns may offer only a single venue suitable for a trade show. But if you're in a larger city, you'll want to select a venue that's easy for non-locals to find, and convenient for everyone to get to. Make sure it's accessible by tractor-trailer, so you won't have issues with delivering supplies and equipment. Also, choose a venue with adequate parking and suitable facilities for handicapped people and people carrying heavy bags.

Generate Industry Buzz

Aside from TV and radio advertisements, you'll also want to build excitement about the event on social media. Set up a Facebook page, Twitter feed, Google Plus account, LinkedIn account, and YouTube channel. Invite all your current industry connections, but also reach out to other vendors, industry leaders, and personalities who can help spread the word. In addition to social media, you want to make sure you’ve used search engine optimization for your website to drive traffic to your site from Google, Yahoo/Bing. Take advantage of the technology we have to maximize your trade show exposure.

Encourage Vendors to Promote the Show

Vendors can do a lot of the advertising for you. Offer incentives for vendors to advertise, such as a better location for their booth or a discount for the space. Vendor advertising shouldn't be limited to ads, it should also include social media promotions, mentions on their blog, and other visible spots.

Provide Seating and Refreshments

One common mistake trade show organizers make is leaving people without a way to rest and refresh. Nobody is going to hang around long if their feet are tired and they're hungry. Remember, many of your attendees will be stopping by on their lunch break or after a hard day of work. Provide comfortable seating and a place to get snacks and drinks to encourage lingering is a great trade show booth tactic.

Offer Extended Hours

Professional trade shows have to consider workers with long hours. Plan your trade show to run as many days as possible, preferably at least three days. Stay open late at least one night for those with brutal work hours. Announce giveaways, door prizes, special presentations, and guest speakers to keep people around later on your long night.

Arm Your Vendors for Success

Some of your vendors may be new to the trade show scene, and could use some tips for making their booth successful. Offer them some materials and information to help them bring value to the people who attend. If your vendors get value from attending, they'll assure your next trade show is a success, as well.

Invite the Right Guest Speakers

The right personality can boost attendance to your trade show tremendously. Many industry leaders are happy for a chance to spread their message. Invite the top names in the industry, and schedule well in advance for the best chance of getting them there. Many top speakers book 6 months to one year ahead, so play early.

Making a trade show successful doesn't take a miracle, just some good planning and thinking ahead.

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