7 Tips for Trade Show Success

Over more than 30 years of managing B2B industry trade shows, we have learned much about what works and what does not. Here are our top tips for your upcoming trade shows to help you make valuable connections and get the most for your event budget.

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1. Create a buzz with your marketing before the show

A successful trade show starts well in advance with your pre-show promotions, including social media, email, and more.

  • Promote your attendance on your website. For example, add a temporary banner at the top of your site header, and include it on your event calendar.
  • Post your event on social media platforms. Our B2B clients primarily use LinkedIn—your social media should happen where your customers hang out.
  • Send regular emails to a targeted list of potential attendees
  • Create an email footer that promotes the event and have your entire company add it to their email signature
  • Be clear about how to connect with you at the event: announce your booth number, who from your company will be there, the information you will present
  • Plan for some meaningful SWAG at your booth (continue reading for highly-perceived value promo items and how to use them).
  • Don’t forget to promote company representatives speaking or giving workshops during the event.
  • If you pay for event sponsorships, be sure to include them in all of your promotions.
  • Rally your sales and other customer-facing team members to extend personal invitations; it will make all the difference.

PRO TIP: Speaking at trade shows is a great way to position yourself and your company as a thought leader in your industry.

Don’t be afraid to be repetitive! We call it “pleasantly persistent”—enough communication to get your message out but not be annoying. Research shows that it takes 7 to 8 impressions before a message registers.

Creating awareness of your presence will create a buzz about the benefit you bring to your customers.

2. Be sure to get contact info from ALL booth visitors–Don’t rely on handing out business cards or brochures!

You’d be surprised how many people participate in trade shows with no game plan. They hand out business cards thinking they made a valuable connection, yet at the end of the event, they walk about with only a couple of leads (after spending thousands of dollars to attend).

In addition to handing out business cards, you must get all your booth visitors’ contact information. You get bonus points for ensuring that your marketing team receives these valuable contacts!

3D Exhibits explains more about the Best Practices for Collecting Attendee Contact Information in a Trade Show Exhibit. Here are their four best practices:

  1. Use a premium to attract more attendees
  2. Use a self-serve interface to maximize the number of attendees who share their emails
  3. Include proper opt-in permissions information
  4. Have a plan to get contact data to your marketing team before the show

PRO TIP: Use high perceived value lead magnets to draw more visitors to your booth

3. Create simple, easy-to-understand displays

Did you know the average attention span of a person is about 7-8 seconds? Couple that with the messaging at a trade show, and it’s probably less than that. You have just a few seconds to grab attendees’ attention.

How do you make your booth display stand out? There is one very simple rule.

If you want to grab their attention and make a stellar impression, your displays must clearly and precisely communicate what your company does—and what is in it for them—in a matter of seconds.

Don’t include too much information or use over-complicated graphics–it makes your space feel cluttered and confusing. Instead, opt for an open layout and use empty space to your advantage.

An article on LinkedIn highlights Ten Simple Ways to Attract Visitors to Your Booth:

  1. Light your booth
  2. Use color to draw attention
  3. Make your booth inviting and open
  4. Create movement
  5. Utilize promotional products
  6. Use smells to our advantage
  7. Personalize your booth
  8. Dress for success
  9. Use all the tools at your disposal
  10. Choose the right people to represent your brand

4. In most cases, don’t hand out brochures

Trade show attendees meet hundreds of people and receive dozens of brochures and other promotional materials. Chances are, they will not look at your brochure after the event, and it will end up in the trash.

Instead, save the brochures and additional information for when you follow up with your leads after the event (read below for more details). Just make sure you get their complete contact information!

The exception: If your products and your audience are highly technical, you will want to have some printed materials on hand. Engineers want to see specs!

PRO TIP: In addition to capturing attendees’ contact information, we like using a QR code on a postcard or business card to send booth attendees to a landing page featuring all the cool stuff you presented at the show. Be sure to include a clear call to action and easy ways to get in touch with you if they have questions or want additional information or a quote for your products and services!

5. Have high-perceived value VIP promos on hand

Have you ever made a great connection with a booth visitor, but it doesn’t turn into anything? Handing them a high-perceived-value branded item just might make all the difference. This item will remind the attendee of you and your conversation and make them more open to your post-show follow-up.

Quality giveaways show your booth visitors that you value their time and are committed to working with them in the future.

SAVE YOUR PRECIOUS TIME

You can search for the perfect promotional products to support your marketing. Or let us do it—it's FREE.

6. Follow up with leads right away

Immediately following an event, you should follow up with the contacts you collected.

Thank them for stopping by, identify critical products, services, and solutions you featured, and ask if they have any questions. If you didn’t already hand out brochures, this is the time to provide more information in person, digitally, or by mail!

PRO TIP: PDF brochures are great. You can get more mileage from them by making them interactive with links and clear calls to action. Use them in conjunction with related website content.

7. Share booth experiences after your event (be sure to include people!)

Finally, share highlights from your event in your marketing activities following the trade show.

  • Take a lot of photos—but make sure they have people in them! A photo of your booth with no people doesn’t say anything about the success of your event. On the contrary, social posts with people tend to have more engagement than posts without people.
  • Email all of your customers and prospects with highlights from the event
  • For larger events, or especially for events you directly host, ask for feedback in a brief survey after the event

Contact us today if you need help with your industry trade show planning and promotions!

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