Trade Show Exhibitor Tips – How to Prepare for Your First Trade Show
Preparing for a trade show is a time-consuming and difficult process, especially if you’re a first-time exhibitor. So, to help you and your team get the most out of your first trade show, we put together 15 trade show exhibitor tips for preparing for your first trade show.
15 Trade Show Exhibitor Tips for Preparing for Your First Trade Show
1. Set Goals –
Before you even start to think about exhibiting at a trade show it’s important to ask yourself why your team is exhibiting. What are you trying to accomplish? Whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation, or sales, it’s important to create a list of goals your team will be trying to achieve at the show.
2. Research Trade Shows –
Once you’ve set trade show goals for your team and determined what you’re trying to accomplish, the next step is to research different trade shows to exhibit at. First, determine who your target audience is and what trade shows they are most likely to attend. Then, compare those shows side-by-side to determine which are the most beneficial for your team. Factors to consider are: event location, number of exhibitors (and competitors!), number of attendees, trade show dates, duration of the show, popularity, media attention, frequency of the show, and so on and so forth.
3. Prepare a Budget –
Trade show budgets are very complex and can mean the difference between a smooth trade show and an expensive, stressful day. For this reason, it’s important to take the time to plan and prepare your trade show budget. Don’t just create a simple budget. Go above and beyond! Create an itemized budget to help avoid any unexpected costs.
4. Develop a Marketing Strategy –
Once your trade show budget has been created, the next step is to research and plan your marketing strategy. Develop a marketing strategy that will resonate and connect with your target audience. To do this, think like an attendee. What types of marketing strategies have you seen that grabbed your attention? What marketing strategies helped you to remember a company’s name? What perked your interest in a company and led you to research their brand? Ask yourself these questions, then compile a list and select the best strategies for your audience.
5. Research & Compare Trade Show Vendor Costs –
Trade shows materials are expensive. From giveaway items and contest prizes, to trade show displays and carpeting, spending a lot of money at a trade show can’t be avoided, but it can be reduced! Take the time to research trade show vendors and compare costs; you’ll be glad you did.
6. Hire Trade Show Booth Staff –
Although hiring trade show booth staff is an extra expense, it is well worth it. Many first-time exhibitors try to cut this cost by bringing family members and friends, but we don’t recommend it. While they may be valuable for set up and break down of the trade show booth, they do not usually have trade show experience and cannot be expected to generate high quality trade show leads for your brand. Instead, it’s important hire trade show booth staff to help generate quality leads and reach your trade show goals. Contact a trade show modeling agency to help hire the best and most qualified trade show staff for your booth.
7. Select the Ideal Booth Location –
Trade show booth location on the trade show floor is very important. It can make or break your visibility and affect the over success of your booth. Before arbitrarily selecting your booth location, take the time to look at the layout of the trade show floor and select a location that has great traffic flow and accessibility.
8. Spice Up your Display –
Spicing up your display may sound like a scary tip for first-time exhibitors, but it will help to differentiate your trade show booth from your competitors. Spice up your booth by creating a unique booth atmosphere that will attract and engage trade show attendees
9. Create a Unified Theme –
Creating a theme for your trade show booth is a great way for your brand to stand out among the crowd and draw attention to your booth. Always remember, fun and exciting booths will be remembered while boring normal booths will be forgotten.
10. Double Check All the Logistics Ahead of Time –
Double check, double check, double check! If you are shipping your trade show booth display, make sure it will be shipped on time and to the right location. Not having your trade show booth display, or any other important booth components on time can and will be very problematic and stressful for your team.
Also, double and triple check that all of the booth essentials are accounted for. Make sure the lighting, power sources, water supply, and anything else needed for your display is paid for, available, and easily accessible.
11. Be Proactive –
Being proactive at your first trade show is easier said than done, but actively engaging with attendees instead of waiting from them to stop by is an important and easy way to increase your ROI. Don’t wait for attendees to approach you, find ways for your team to attract and interact with attendees.
12. Take Notes –
One of the biggest mistakes that first-time exhibitors make is that they collect business cards from attendees, but don’t take any notes on each attendee. Then, when they are following up with their leads after the show they have no information to go on. Which attendees were interested in general information about the company? Which attendees were engaged and ready to build a business partnership? Without taking notes on each attendee, these questions remain unanswered. Instead, write down attendee notes on the back of each business card you get. These small notes will help to jog your memory about each attendee and help to make the follow-up phone call and email less forced and stiff.
13. Organize Your Contacts –
At the end of each day, make sure your team updates and organizes a folder, spreadsheet, or document with all of the attendee information and notes received that day. This small detail that will greatly impact your team post-trade show.
14. Follow Up –
This may seem obvious, but do not wait to follow-up with attendees. Follow-up with every contact immediately after the show. The sooner you connect with your leads the higher your ROI and relationship building.
15. Reflect –
Finally, at the end of your first trade show, look back and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Brainstorm new ideas on how to improve your trade show experience. What worked? What didn’t? By taking the time to evaluate your trade show experience you and your team set yourself up for an even bigger success at your next trade show.
There is a lot of preparation that goes into exhibiting at your first trade show. But, with these 15 trade show exhibiting tips and a trade show checklist, you and your team are sure to hit the ground running. What did we forget? What other aspects go into exhibiting at your first trade show? Tell us in the comments below!