Trade shows are a great way to showcase your brand, network with potential clients, and generate leads. However, exhibiting at a trade show can be a daunting task, especially for first-time exhibitors. In this guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know to make your trade show exhibiting experience a success.
Before you start planning your trade show exhibit, it’s important to set clear goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve by exhibiting at the trade show? Do you want to generate leads, increase brand awareness, or launch a new product? Once you have set your goals, you can start planning your exhibit.
Choosing the right trade show is crucial to the success of your exhibit. You want to make sure that the trade show is relevant to your industry and that your target audience will be in attendance. Research different trade shows using The Trade Show Calendar and attend a few before deciding which one to exhibit at.
Your trade show booth is the first thing attendees will see, so it’s important to make a good first impression. Your booth should be eye-catching, professional, and on-brand. An experienced exhibit house, like Metro Exhibits, is the best resource to talk through your project. Have a budget in mind and an idea of what you want to accomplish, or booths you have seen that you like. Metro will will provide a complimentary design by our professional exhibit designers to help you create a display that stands out from the crowd. It is critical to draw traffic and invite engagement with a custom exhibit rental or purchase that will move the needle.
If you will only exhibit one or two times a year, are new to exhibiting, or frequently change your messaging or design, a custom booth rental is the way to go. If you exhibit at multiple shows, keep the same branding and messaging, and are fairly certain of what you’re looking for, then a purchase will save you money in the long run. The most important tip is to work with an exhibit house that deals in custom exhibits–you are investing time, money and energy in this project–it’s too important to compromise, or to use the same, boring off-the-shelf box or pipe-and-drape that everybody is using.
Preparing for a trade show involves more than just designing your booth. Here are some things you need to do before the trade show:
Promoting your exhibit before the trade show is crucial to attracting attendees to your booth. Use social media, email marketing, and other marketing channels to promote your exhibit and generate buzz. Consider mailing half a prize ticket, or if you’re launching something at the show, a well-designed postcard with that announcement. In a digital world, hard copy mail (like face-to-face marketing : ) really stands out!
Your staff is the face of your brand at the trade show, so it’s important to train them on how to interact with attendees, answer questions, and generate leads. Above all, make sure your staff is knowledgeable about your products and services and can communicate your brand message effectively. There is an art to appearing welcoming to passers-by without being intrusive that comes with experience. Exhibitor Online publishes a must-read article about Staff Training that we love.
Expert tip: Encourage your trade show booth staff to walk the show themselves to see how different approaches at other booths feel–and how they work.
Create marketing collateral such as brochures, flyers, and business cards to hand out to attendees. Make sure your marketing collateral is on-brand and includes your contact information. Metro Exhibits will print and ship your collateral with your booth–saving on time, energy–and drayage and luggage costs. Keep your handouts concise and small in size; airline luggage weight rules may regulate your beautiful glossy brochure to the hotel trashcan, especially if your guests are traveling internationally.
Expert tip: Collect contact information from interested visitors and mail them that beautiful piece after the show. It will be a valuable touchpoint to keep you top of mind after the show, and hardcopy business mail is literally impossible to ignore.
Now that you have planned and prepared for the trade show, it’s time to exhibit. Here are some tips for exhibiting at the trade show:
Working a trade show can be exhilarating–and exhausting. Last-minute emergencies come up even for the most experienced, so plan what you can well in advance. Pre-pack your bags, get your collateral printed, order your swag early, while you have the widest choices and lowest prices (did you know that MetroPlus, a division of Metro Exhibits, will help you choose the right giveaways, then order and ship them with your booth)?
Expert tip: Lay out each day’s complete outfit, right down to shoes, jewelry and underwear, and take a snapshot on your phone before you pack them. It’s an easy way to remember what goes with what, and makes dressing mindless the mornings of the show–which you will appreciate, trust us!
Engage with attendees by asking open-ended questions, listening to their needs, and providing solutions. Make sure your staff is friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable (see Training Your Staff above).
Demonstrate your products and services to attendees to show them how they work and how they can benefit from them. Use interactive displays, videos, and other multimedia to showcase your products. There are endless ways to stand out. There is always something new to wow your visitors–and Metro Exhibits exhibitor specialists know them all.
Collect leads by using lead capture forms, business cards (don’t be afraid to scribble notes on the backs), and other lead generation tools. Follow up with leads after the trade show to nurture them and convert them into customers.
Expert tip: If you don’t follow up with leads from the show, you might as well not invest in exhibiting at all.
Exhibiting at a trade show is arguably the best way to generate leads, increase brand awareness, and network with potential clients. By following the tips in this guide, you can make your trade show exhibiting experience a success. Remember to set clear goals, design a remarkable booth, promote your exhibit, train your staff, and engage with attendees. Good luck!
Want to gain an edge? Get ideas, tips, and
resources from the exhibit industry's top experts.
According to the US Census Bureau, there are 28 million registered businesses in the country. That...