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Your Guide to Trade Show Success

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a trade show, there’s no doubt you know how busy it can get. Being the event planner at your company is no different! From booth design to schedule coordination, it’s no easy feat. Even the most seasoned marketing professionals must put other projects on pause as they gear up for trade show season. Being in the promotional products industry, we’ve been to our fair share of conventions. Not to mention, a large portion of our customers are planning for one themselves!  We’ve whittled down some of our best tips and compiled them into this trade show toolkit.

How to Attract Visitors to Your Booth

  1. Reach out to the trade show’s management team to ask for tips on staffing, booth design, and logistics. For example, you might need a certain number of outlets, an internet connection, or promotional product ideas.
  2. Send an email to clients who live or work near the trade show site and invite them to come meet you.
  3. Scope out the layout of the convention center to select an area that will allow for the most foot traffic to your booth. In the United States, most people go to the right when they enter a building. Use this information to your advantage and select an area on the righthand side. If the right side is taken, see if there’s anything near the restrooms.
  4. Email coupons to current customers ahead of the event, telling them to turn them in at your booth for a special gift.
  5. Send out a newsletter to all of your email subscribers to let them know you’ll be at the convention. Even if they aren’t in the area or can’t attend, they’ll recognize you as a significant player in your industry.
  6. Research speaker opportunities. They’ll allow you to educate trade show attendees on your area of expertise. We wouldn’t recommend doing any self-promotion here, but audience members will likely be naturally attracted to your booth. Plus, they’ll recognize you when they walk past your booth!
  7. Make sure your booth reps are outgoing and know how to read body language. It’s important to be able to attract a prospect to your table, but it also takes a special talent to know when they’re not interested.
  8. Be sure to wear company logo attire not only at the booth, but in your off-hours as well. You never know who you might run into while you’re grabbing coffee or headed to lunch.
  9. Don’t skimp on the promos! Not only are they assets for your trade show booth, but they can also be packaged together as welcome baskets for hotel guests.
  10. Encourage trade show attendees to come to your both on social media. Don’t forget Instagram stories!

How to Get People Interested in Your Brand

How to Get People Interested in Your Brand

  1. Limit your pitch to under a minute. Your prospects don’t have the time for a 15-minute speech!
  2. Ask open-ended questions. The prospect you’re talking to might not even have any purchase power at their company.
  3. Practice your pitch with a variety of customer types. One of the best ways to do this is to have off-the-clock employees role play as different types of customers: passive, enthusiastic, indecisive, confused.
  4. Embrace humor! Everyone loves a good laugh. This is one of our favorites: “Here’s a free sample of our hand sanitizer, and I would actually be a little offended if you didn’t use it after we shook hands.”
  5. Offer a chair. Trade show attendees spend all day on their feet, and the mere sight of an opportunity to sit down will be appreciated.

How to Convert Leads into Sales

How to Convert Leads into Sales

  1. After the convention, mail a postcard to your most valuable prospects. Bonus points if it’s handwritten!
  2. Craft your first contact around sharing compelling content from your site, such as a relevant blog post or feature tutorial to establish yourself as a resource in your industry.
  3. Contact anyone who had an immediate interest in your products or services right away. Obviously, this is only for those who were upfront in telling you they wanted to buy as soon as they got back to the office. Don’t overwhelm all of your prospects with the same sense of urgency.
  4. Reach out to bloggers you met and offer an interview on your latest service or product features.
  5. Allow for a reasonable amount of breathing room. Trade show attendees are bombarded with emails and phone calls when they get back to the office. Waiting it out a couple of days or even one week after the event might prove to be more beneficial than immediately reaching out.

Why Trade Shows Are Important

Depending on your industry, trade shows can be one of the biggest forms of lead generation out there. It allows brands to showcase their products or services in approachable and trustworthy way. It’s not uncommon to see a product online and wonder if you’re shopping with a legitimate company, but when you let your customers and prospects to be up close and personal with you, they get a better idea of who you are.

Trade shows are also incredibly valuable networking opportunities. You’ll meet new people during keynote sessions and even while waiting in line for breakfast at your hotel. Everyone at the event will be like-minded people, making every lead or new connection worthwhile!

At the end of the day, as long as you’re authentic to the people you meet, and your products or services bring them value, you’re bound for success. As with most things in life, mastering the art of trade shows involves a lot of trial and error. Just don’t forget to review your successes and failures once the event is wrapped up. It’s the best way to learn from your investment!

What are your biggest obstacles to trade show success? Which goals have been the easiest to measure/attain? Any other tips you want to share? Sound off in the comments below.



Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.

Comments

  1. Mike Thimmesch

    Wow, Jana, what a wealth of great info all in one place! Thanks for the link to our blog within your tips. Now for some unknown reason, I’ve got a hankering to go see the movie Nemo!

    Mike Thimmesch
    http://www.skylinetradeshowtips.com

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks, Mike! I’m glad you enjoy the list I’ve put together. Your site is absolutely fantastic and a HUGE inspiration for the blog post. Keep rocking your own awesome site, and you can look forward to more links in future blog posts. 🙂

      P.S. Finding Nemo is an fantastic movie! I’ve been trying to find a promotional product angle for years so I can write a blog post about it. It’s my favorite Pixar film.

  2. Sylvia French-Hodges

    Great stuff Jana!

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks, Sylvia! Any other tips you can think of? I’m sure this list will be updated. 🙂

  3. Rosemary Hazen

    Good info. Thank you Jana.

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks, Rosemary! I hope it helps with your business. Have you participated in trade shows as an exhibitor or attendee?

  4. Elizabeth French

    What is your advice on the best way to break into Trade Shows? I have done lots of home parties with success but want to explore other options to go to the next level in retail.

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I’m glad to hear your home parties have been successful; you must be on quite a roll to be ready to take on trade shows!

      A lot of this depends on what type of products/services you’re selling. Something like homemade candles or crocheted pot holders would be great for local craft fairs while a tech products might be better suited for larger industry conventions. You’ll also want to determine if you want to dip your toe in the water with a small event or jump in with both feet at a much larger venue.

      What is your primary concern about breaking into trade shows? Are you having trouble finding the right ones to suit your products/services or want some guidance on the logistics of setting up a trade show presence?

      Thanks for stopping by, and hope to hear from you soon! 🙂

  5. Kevin Davis

    Thanks for the article, these are great tips. With follow up though, I’d probably act sooner than a week. You want to contact your customers while your brand is still top of mind. Either way, too many companies neglect follow up all together and the key try and convert these qualified leads.

  6. Jennifer Fernando

    Great website. The content is very informative.

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