Tradeshows are a fantastic opportunity for you to expose and grow your brand. Often attracting thousands of attendees from all over the country and world, tradeshows put your message in front of a targeted audience. That being said, tradeshows are also the perfect embodiment of the term “sensory overload” with hundreds of brands screaming for attention. Follow these essential keys to success to help you prepare, setup, and work your tradeshow booth to ensure your message stands out.

Determine What Success Looks Like

Before investing in your target tradeshow booth, determine your key performance indicators for the event. Are you trying to generate sales leads? Are you promoting a new brand or product? Are you just hoping to network?

Know your show objectives and plan accordingly. Make sure that your projected return on investment justifies your cost investment. Once you have your KPI’s in place, build a game plan that enables you to achieve them. Setting goals ahead of time will help you make every decision that comes after.

Maximize Your Booth

If you reserve your spot far enough ahead of time, you can request optimal booth placement. Try to secure a booth next to high traffic areas. Some locations are naturally high traffic (close to main doors, food courts, etc.). However, if you scout out the venue in advance, you may find some non-traditional locations offering plenty of foot traffic. The path on the way back from restrooms, common routes to meeting rooms, or corners inside the main section can all offer high traffic patterns without the premium price.

Once you have been assigned your booth, think through the main entrances and attempt to set up your signage and displays to grab the most attention. The average exhibit attendee walking down the aisle considers each booth for three seconds. If your exhibit fails to capture his or her attention, they will move on to the next vendor.

Take a look at your messaging and branding. Can you instantly communicate your message in an engaging manner? Make the most of your booth with an eye catching design that presents your value proposition in a simple fashion that is easy to understand. Typically, attendees will find images and graphics more compelling than text – at least at first. Then, after their attention has been grabbed, they will shift to read your information. Make sure that your booth finds the balance between graphics to attract the attendee, and information that educates them and generates new business.

Be Memorable

This is the most impactful step to maximize your effect at the tradeshow. Each attendee will be issued countless run of the mill items, such as business cards, brochures, pamphlets, and pens from all the other vendors. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to set your brand apart from the rest by bringing branded, unique tradeshow giveaways.

If you choose to give away promotional products, attractiveness and usefulness are key. According to a study by the Advertising Specialty Institute, 54% of U.S. consumers who keep promotional outerwear only do so because they are attractive (BONUS: Almost 90% of consumers remember who gave them a promotional shirt). Aside from looking great, the items themselves should also be practical. 87% of those who kept branded power banks and 85% of those who kept desk/office accessories did so because they found them useful.

When choosing your promotional products, there are three main criteria to consider:

  1. Make your giveaways cost effective. This is why it’s essential to identify your KPI’s. Make sure your estimated return per lead justifies the products you are choosing to buy. It doesn’t matter if you give away Apple watches and become the most popular booth at the tradeshow ‒ if you can’t generate a return on your leads, you’re just hurting your business.
  1. Brand your gifts and giveaways. Guarantee that everyone who sees your item knows it came from your booth. The product’s branding, including logo, font, typeface, and color, must be consistent. The goal is for other people to take notice of your branded giveaway as users walk it around the tradeshow floor, so that others come looking for your booth on their own.
  1. Make your giveaways intriguing. The more your giveaway sticks out and is considered useful, the better the chance it will make it past the trash can and into attendees’ home or office. If everyone is giving away pens, why not take the unique approach of giving away something like phone chargers or USB drives? It is more memorable, more useful, and is unique.

Tradeshows offer a tremendous amount of potential for companies that want to grow their brand. They can be a crucial tool for attendees and exhibitors alike, or they can be a budget-crushing sinkhole. The key to avoiding the latter is proper planning and execution.