How to Make a Splash at the Trade Show

May 1, 2016

Nicole Lininger

Nicole has worked at InventHelp for 14 years, and her experience with inventors and new products make her an excellent resource. Nicole has daily interaction with a wide range of innovators, from “garage” inventors to top CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.

If you’ve got a product or concept to sell, a trade show can be a great venue to demonstrate your solution for a receptive audience. But before you can make a sale or find an investor or development partner, you’ll have to capture the attention of trade show attendees. And remember — you’ll have a lot of competition since fellow exhibitors will also be pulling out all the stops to make sure potential buyers focus on their products instead. 

What you’ll need for a successful trade show experience is a way to cut through the sensory overload and get your message across to the people who need to hear it. Here are five tips you can use to make sure your booth stands out on a crowded trade show floor:

1.     Exhibit your product in an eye-catching booth. Trade show booths can be pricey, but it’s not necessary to have a big budget to make your booth memorable. The most important thing is to project a professional image and capture the attention of passersby. Ensure that your booth’s look is in keeping with your overall brand, and have branded giveaways like business cards, flyers and small gifts (such as candy or mints) handy so you can attract foot traffic and make it easy for people who stop by to get more information and follow up with you later.

2.     Hone your elevator pitch. It’s crucial to have a short pitch (two minutes or less is best) ready to explain to attendees why your product will succeed in the marketplace. A good elevator pitch typically includes a hook to pique interest right away backed up with a quick overview of benefits, features and supporting data. End your pitch with a call to action, which can include an invitation to contact you accompanied by a business card, flyer or other branded giveaway.  

3.     Maintain a friendly, approachable demeanor. Presenting your product at a trade show is exciting, but if you’re not accustomed to interacting with the public or are new at pitching products, you might feel a bit nervous. It’s important to be yourself — let your personality and your passion for your product shine through. Project confidence by being mindful of your posture and making eye contact. And remember, no one knows your product like you do — you are the expert! 

4.     Bring a wingman (or woman) along as backup. If you have a business partner or knowledgeable friend who can help you maintain a booth presence, it’s a great idea to bring that person along as backup. Trade shows are typically busy, fast-paced environments. The experience can also be draining since you’ll probably have to be “on” for hours at a stretch. You never know when the perfect opportunity might stroll up to your booth. If you have a friend along to back you up, you won’t miss out if you happen to be taking a quick break when opportunity knocks. 

5.     Network, network, network! Although your main purpose in attending the trade show may be to find an investor, buyer or developer for your product, it’s a wonderful idea to network with everyone you meet. Even your competitors may have plenty to teach you: You may gain valuable new insights into how to get funding for your product or successfully bring it to market. A trade show is a great place to make valuable connections of all types. 

If you’re looking for exposure for your new product or concept, a trade show can be the ideal setting to connect with potential buyers, partners or investors. If you’ve never done a trade show, it may seem a little intimidating at first. But by following these five tips, you can showcase your product successfully and get the most out of your trade show experience.

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