When exhibiting at a trade show, all the hustle and bustle in preparation can sometimes give you a false sense of security about how your booth will perform during the event itself. That’s why we put together a list of key takeaways for you to remember during each stage of the process, and to help you put your best face forward at your first trade show.

Before the Trade Show

Set your goals and ensure everyone related to marketing, sales, and the trade show itself are on the same page.

What do you need to accomplish those goals?
How will they be accomplished? By who?
How will you measure these accomplishments?

Encourage commitment and dedication towards accomplishing your goals throughout each phase of your preparation.

Generate hype! Blast your social media channels, advertise your attendance via whatever means you have at your disposal (be it email, direct mail, phone calls, advertisements, etc.).

Do your research. Find out what companies will be attending and exhibiting, with the goal to set up meetings prior to the show to make the most of your time.

Then use LinkedIn and company websites to prepare your talking points, and to get a feel for their business, their role, and how your product or service can help.

During the Trade Show

At a trade show, your company is put in front of thousands of motivated buyers, and it can be easy to focus on your company's needs rather than your customers'. Don't make this mistake! By being genuine and honest in your attempts to help customers solve their own problems, you'll accomplish your own goals by creating relationships that foster brand loyalty towards your products and services.

Empathize with visitors by understanding and showing genuine concern for their challenges. Actively listen to show you're interested in helping them solve their problems. By connecting with attendees on a human level, rather than seeing them as a dollar sign, you'll build trust and gain customers that want to help you just like you helped them.

Make a good first impression. Trade shows can be quite disorderly, which is why it's important to maintain your booth space by keeping it neat, organized, and inviting for attendees. Staff should dress appropriately for the event. Whether you plan on  branded team uniforms or keeping it simple with business casual make sure your staff knows what's expected of them.

Differentiate yourself from other exhibitors. If most of the booths around you are using informational brochures, promotional items, or signs, try to one up them by using props or intriguing product demonstrations. Let your products or services open the initial conversation, then have your staff continue it by demonstrating the less obvious features.

Pay attention to the details. When it comes to taking notes on contacts, be specific so that you can be efficient when following up with each contact. In relation to your booth, remember that small details make up the big picture.

After the Trade Show

Follow up with all the contacts you pulled from the trade show. A simple “Thank you”, or “Nice meeting you” email can go a long way. For the contacts you deemed qualified and who expressed interest in carrying on the conversation about your products or services, try to be a little more personal with the email with the goal of setting an exploratory call. It’s also a good practice to call the lead.

Be reliable. If you said you'd contact someone within a certain number of days, make sure you do that! This is why paying attention to the details can save you time, and ultimately, earn sales.

That's a wrap! Have a post-show meeting with your team to discuss the entire experience, as well as document the results. Find out what went well, what didn't, and ways to improve. Learn what could make your next trade show run smoother. The learning curve for trade shows isn't as steep as it seems during your first event. Experience and continuing knowledge about trade shows will make things easier and easier.

Need help creating a booth that will help your company put its best face forward? Contact us today to get started.