What to DO NOW to Plan for Your Next Trade Show

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Are you new to the trade show scene—or, has your team attended so many shows that you don’t really plan for them anymore? No matter how experienced you are at exhibiting, there are always some improvements you can make to increase ROI for every dollar you spend.

Let’s face it—trade shows are expensive. Booth spaces range from the high hundreds to the mid-thousands, and of course that doesn’t include your display, print materials, promotional giveaways, etc. Here are our top 3 tips to make sure you get the most from your trade show investment:

1. Plan, plan, plan.
That’s what you’re doing right now if you’re reading this blog post—which is a great start! Your mind is in the right place. So get a pen or open that Word doc and start strategizing.

2. How are you going to drive traffic to your booth?
You don’t think the host organization is going to that for you, do you? Of course the host organization does a lot to draw people to THE SHOW… but it’s up to you to make sure those people stop at YOUR BOOTH once they’re in the building.

Less than 20% of exhibitors do any form of targeted pre-show marketing.

Pre-show marketing is instrumental in driving booth traffic. Eblast campaigns and social media campaigns are the least expensive options to get the word out ahead of time. But direct mail is still a viable option, depending on the type of business you’re in and what your target demographic is. Decide now how you’re going to market your company leading up to the big event, and get people to specifically look for your booth.

You might start by promoting a drawing or giveaway to take place at the show. Or consider offering a special gift for those who RSVP by a certain date. Or, take this opportunity to build on the excitement by giving attendees the first look at a new product launch. Whatever best fits your brand… the point is make sure you get the word out. And never underestimate the power of a personal phone call right before the event to reach those special prospects and clients!

76% of attendees arrive with an agenda of exhibitors they plan to visit.

3. What are you going to do to draw people in once you’re at the show?
With hundreds of other booths, and multiple direct competitors, your booth presence better be one that catches the eye and gets attention.

You have about a 5-second window to catch the people walking down the aisle.

Make sure your display looks fantastic and clearly shows what you do. You’ve already spent a good chunk of money to exhibit at the show—don’t start scrimping now! Your logo should be at the top of your booth, above the 6’5” mark, to assure it’s seen above the heads of your staff. Graphic images are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than words—so make it easy to get your message across by using mostly graphics and very few words.

Is there a theme you can incorporate? For a recent trade show we attended, Visuals created an awesome coffee house theme to promote our custom, individualized approach to each client’s brand. Just like coffee orders are individual (I’m a “Grande Soy Green Tea Latte, No Syrup, 2 Honeys” kind of gal), we understand each company is unique… and the coffee house theme was born! It was extremely well-received and there were very few moments when we didn’t have crowds of people in our booth.

What about you? What is your GOAL at this next show? Can you incorporate a theme to help solidify your key message?

There is so much more we could share, but these three key points will definitely get you started. Stay tuned for more trade show tips in upcoming blog posts!

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