Don’t make the mistake of thinking that trade shows are irrelevant simply because so much marketing now takes place through email and over the Internet. They still accomplish a lot of business, so if you know how to work trade shows, they will reward you. Part of your success comes from simply showing up, but once you get there, you better get ready to work for it.

Make a List of Realistic Goals

realistic trade show exhibit goals
Image via Flickr by Christmas w/a K

Preparing for your trade show takeover begins long before the event itself takes place. As soon as you’re aware of a show you want to attend, start setting goals for yourself. More importantly, make sure they’re realistic. If you set your sights too high and don’t meet the numbers you’ve set for yourself, you’ll feel like a failure. That can negatively affect your showmanship at other trade shows.

Think first about what you want to do. Are you interested in pulling in prospects, turning those leads into sure sales, or introducing people to a new invention, product, or service? The goals you set for yourself depend on these wants. You might achieve more success by demonstrating your product a certain amount of times, or by booking appointments with a specific number of existing customers.

Keep Growing Your Ideas

trade show display ideas
Image via Flickr by Vancouver Film School

You know the saying: go hard or go home. You can never get complacent at your trade show displays. Just because your last booth was successful doesn’t mean you should show up with the same display. Invest in a new trade show display booth. Make it bigger, better, more dynamic, and more colorful.

Don’t keep your goals the same either. Always strive to do more and to improve. Work on your sales pitches, your demonstrations, and your follow-up techniques. Offer better swag. Use better technology.

Choose Your Shows Wisely

choosing the best trade show exhibit for your business
Image via Flickr by ThinkGeoEnergy

Don’t feel like you need to attend every single trade show that comes your way. Once they’re announced, take a look at each show. Ask yourself some key questions:

  • What sorts of consumers typically attend?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Have you succeeded at this trade show before?

If it’s not your niche, don’t go. Spend your time preparing for a different show that will serve you better. As far as competition goes, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to go up against dozens of competitors or infiltrate a trade show where your niche doesn’t have as much representation.

Networking vs. Mining for Prospects

trade show networking
Image via Flickr by Maryland GovPics

Networking with former and existing customers is just as important as pulling in new prospects. Divide your time wisely, keeping in mind that you’ll impress your existing buyers by proving that you’re still interested in them. It’s not a bad idea to have someone devoted to selling to new prospects and turning them into sales, while someone else converses sincerely with the attendees who have already given you their business.

If you want to leave the trade show exhibit feeling like a success, you have to do more than your competitors. Make your customers and prospects feel loved, impress them, and show them that your innovations never stop.