Editor’s Note: This is a post by Mike Herdon. Mike is a business writer who shares tips on how to effectively market your small business, increase sales, and keep expenses down.
Whether you’re a newbie or you’ve been putting trade show booths together for years, you ought to know that the margin for error is slim. A trade show represents an excellent opportunity to market your business, but if you don’t get it right you may end up doing more damage to your brand than you could potentially gain. If it’s been a while since you put a booth together, or if you need some advice on how to do it for the first time, read on for some helpful tips.
1. Choose Your Space Wisely
The spaces that enjoy the most exposure at trade shows are the island booths or the spots located at the front. As soon as you get wind of a trade show that you might be interested in attending, sign up and book a prime spot in your company’s name. If the best spots aren’t available, or are out of your budget, see if you can reserve a corner booth, which can help give it a user-friendly entrance-and-exit flow.
2. Make the Booth Inviting
If you’ve got a covered booth, be sure to bring some sort of lighting system to help make it attractive and inviting. Then, once things get started make a quick assessment of the tone and appearance of the other booths at the show. If the majority are reserved and stiff, encourage your staff to actively engage passersby. If the booths on either side of you are already doing that, though, take a gentler approach – standing out from the crowd is a great way to draw attendees in. And don’t place a long table across the front of your booth – nothing says “don’t come in” like a blocked entryway.
3. Staff it With the Right Folks
If you think you can haphazardly choose employees to staff your booth, you’re wrong. Ask team members to volunteer and choose those with the bubbliest personalities, the highest level of expertise, and the ones who function best in large crowds. And make sure they want to participate – forcing someone to work your booth is a sure way to guarantee less than stellar results.
4. Don’t Skimp on the Swag
Pens and koozies have their place in terms of marketing your business, just maybe not at a mid-range or high-end trade show. Instead, consider getting some bottled water with your company name and logo on the label to help with internal promotion during the show. Then, invest in some swag that can continue to advertise long after the trade show ends.
Check out the Quality Logo Products® website for some ideas spanning a wide budget range, including visors, calendars, T-shirts, and a variety of other promotional items.
5. Keep the Booth Accessories to a Minimum
Make sure every trade show attendee gets some swag and informational literature from your company. Just keep the rest of the accessories – tables, chairs, and posters – to a minimum. If your business is there to feature a product or two, have one of each on-hand for display and demonstration. Make sure your volunteers are well-educated as to the rest of your inventory line so they can help market it. If your business is service oriented, bring along some photos of completed projects and let your team talk about your quality of service. Remember, the more things you bring, the more set-up and tear-down is involved. Make your team the focal point and let them do the work.
To get the most out of your trade show booth and keep costs under control, create a budget as early in the process as possible. Include lines for the rental space, supplies, promotional items, uniforms (if necessary), payroll, meals, and travel expenses. It’s essential that you make the effort to put on a killer trade show booth, just make sure it doesn’t kill your budget.
What other ways can you think of to create an awesome trade show booth? Any other tips you would like to share?