If you’re a vendor or business in a constant stage of growth, you may find that preparing for a trade show is a very frustrating and scary experience. Not only do you need to figure out how to present yourself to your target audience in a way that promotes engagement, but you also need to know how to turn that engagement into sales.

With so much to think about, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether attending trade shows was actually worth it. However, today’s companies need to take advantage of any resource they can grab for market awareness. While SEO campaigns, digital marketing, and social media might be the “hot” solutions, face-to-face marketing scenarios will always remain a top priority.

Today’s consumers want interaction, and that’s why trade shows remain one of the oldest tricks in the book for lead generation. So, how do you set your booth up for success?

Step 1: Do Your Research

First things first, you need to find out the specifics of the tradeshow you’re considering exhibiting in. If possible, contact the people organizing the event and ask for details on the kind of visitors that the show might attract, as well as the layout of the area you’ll have to display your business in.

Make sure you find out the size of your trade table if possible, and make sure there’s plenty of space for you to show off your own personal style. Once the specifics have been established, you’ll be ready to start cultivating the resources you need for a big impact.

Step 2: Location is Crucial

Just as location is important to any website’s Google search placement, or business’s brick and mortar store, the location of your trade show booth is critical too. Try to acquire pricing, floor plans, exhibitor information and more from the management department as soon as possible. If you can choose your own location, try to maximize your appeal by selecting the most crowded area along the walkway.

Top tip: A corner location is likely to have people passing by on either side, while an area located next to a popular brand’s space will attract larger crowds.

Step 3: Making your First Impression

Did you know that our first opinions of someone form in a tenth of a second? Similar results appear when it comes to impressions of brands. It takes around a fifth of a second to get an opinion of a website, and around 94% of the opinion is related to design.

If that wasn’t scary enough, studies also show that the first impression we have of someone often correlates with our long-term relationship. That means, if someone instantly likes your brand, then they’re far more likely to become a loyal customer.

In a trade show scenario, you need to make an impression fast, and the best way you can do this is to create the perfect booth design. Using high-quality banners, table covers, and décor is crucial to showing how professional you are. Your design will also help you to stand out from the crowd of other vendors vying for your customer’s attention.

Step 4: Expanding your Reach

If you want to not only make a good first impression, but keep the attention of your audience, and even transform them into promotional solutions for your business, then you need something to give away.

Offering valuable and unique promotional products instantly get you the appreciation of your audience (everyone loves free stuff), and helps you to spread brand awareness beyond your booth. If attendees are using your lanyards to hold their IDs, then everyone who spots them will see your logo.

At the same time, you can ensure that your customers remember you beyond the tradeshow with promotional items that they can use every day, like flash drives for data storage, or stress balls for a rough day at the office. The more innovative the item, the greater the impact.

Step 5: Spice Up the Experience

If you really want your tradeshow booth to be successful, then you need to create an experience that your audience won’t forget. For example, you could give away free promotional items, and gamify the experience by telling your attendees that everyone wearing a custom hat will have a chance to win a big prize at the end of the day.

Alternatively, you could come up with games and raffles that incorporate your products, services, and brand MO right there at your booth. The more fun you have to offer, the more likely your customers are to stick around. Remember, food is always a great choice, but try to find something that speaks to the nature of your brand.

Step 6: Be Ready to Capture Leads

Ultimately, all the interactions that you have at a trade show should be designed to capture leads. That means that you need to be sure that all your staff members know how to act at the booth. Usually, the sales process includes:

  • The initial engage, and greet
  • Qualifying the lead (are they someone who’s likely to buy?)
  • Dismissing time wasters (politely), and nurturing qualified leads

If someone appears to be a qualified lead, don’t just hand them a business card and send them on their way. Instead, ask them for their email address in exchange for a free promotional item. This will help you to build your sales list, and ensure you have a positive ROI for your trade show experience.

Step 7: Demonstrate the Product

Finally, make sure that your potential customers have a chance to see your product, or service in action whenever possible. Though you can always try to explain your value to leads with pictures and sales pitches, the best way to convince someone that you have the solution they need is with a demonstration.

Demonstrations allow you to show off the key aspects of your service or product, and how those aspects relate to the needs of your customer. Remember, don’t just use a demo to tell someone how great your product is, give them a chance to come to that conclusion themselves by highlighting your USP (unique selling point).

Good Luck

Trade shows are often over-looked in today’s digital-first marketing world, but they’re still a highly effective and efficient way to spread brand awareness and generate leads. Face-to-face interaction and a well-designed booth can help you to find loyal customers, and develop new opportunities for your business that keep you growing, and thriving well into the future.