Making the Most of
By Renea Myers, president of Renea
Trade shows offer your company a unique opportunity
to create visibility and communicate with many
people at once. However, trade shows can require a
big investment of resources (time and money). Here
are a few tips to help you get the most bang from
your trade show buck.
Choose the Right Show
• It’s usually a good idea to attend a show
before you exhibit, unless you’re 100% sure it’s
the right show. Scope out the space you want.
• Try to find out as much as you can about past
show attendees and exhibitors. This information
is often available from the sponsoring
• Ask about planned show promotions such as
pre-event mailings and media buys. The more
resources that a sponsoring organization puts
into the show, the higher the chances of a
• Talk to previous exhibitors about their show
• Get trade show referrals from your best
• If necessary, choose high-interest shows over
• Consider your budget. If you can’t afford to
present yourself in the best possible light at a
show, it’s better to pass on that show.
• Idea: Find a show that targets an under-served
customer base. You could be the only game in
Choose Your Space
• Get in early so that you can take advantage of
early bird discounts and secure your space
before the show gets “cherry picked.”
• Think about traffic patterns and layout. Will
the attendees get sidetracked by a show feature
before they get to your booth? People tend to go
to the right when they enter a show, so a booth
located up front on the left might not be the
best choice. You also want to avoid dark corners
of the exhibit hall.
• Position yourself near traffic drivers like
food, drink, anchor booth, interactive elements,
Internet cafes, or the entrance door to a show
• Ask about booth restrictions such as exhibit
height limitations, lighting rules, music/sound
restrictions. Be sure that your Wow Factor isn’t
against the rules!
Pre-Show Publicity and Visibility
• Consider doing a series of pre-event mailers
or emails to attendees with a very specific call
to action that gets them to your booth and/or
your Web site. Come see us in booth ## just
won’t cut it. Big, pretty postcards or “lumpy
mail” are my favorites!
• Offer a compelling and interactive booth
promotion and ensure that attendees will “get
it” with just one glance.
• Use the show as an opportunity to meet
potential vendors and strategic partners.
• Contact prospects that you know will be at the
event and set appointments to meet with them
during the show days.
• Try to leverage media coverage during the
show. Sponsor something, volunteer to serve on a
committee, let the show producers know you’re
willing to do media interviews, have a visually
interesting pitch for the media, and develop
some media one-sheets about your company to have
• Determine your primary purpose for being at
the show. Generate leads? Close sales? Cement
customer relationships? Develop an opt-in email
or mailing list? Find vendors? Set a specific
goal for that objective.
• What is your branding/awareness goal? What
impression are you trying to make?
• Being present with the competition is a
non-measurable, but often important goal.
Incorporate a Wow Element into your Show
• The key to getting attention at a show is
interactivity and brand-related fun! Your job is
to be the talk of the show.
• You must get the attention of attendees so you
have an opportunity to qualify them.
• Unique giveaways, costumes/characters, games,
demos and entertainment are all big hits at
• Hand out brochures selectively. It’s better to
have a postcard or rack card for everyone to
pick up. Reserve your large brochures for the
• Create a reason for following-up with booth
• Make a packing checklist for all your
materials and supplies.
• Practice booth set-up.
• Choose extroverted, knowledgeable and
enthusiastic people to staff your booth.
• Have enough people staffing each booth shift.
Three per shift is a good rule of thumb…two to
stay in the booth and one to network on the show
• Develop and communicate a complete booth
marketing plan for all staffers.
• Determine beforehand how leads will be
captured and who will do the follow-up.
• Establish a primary booth message that
• Discuss dress and booth protocol.
• Create brief qualifying questions that
everyone will use.
• Wear pockets for stashing business cards while
on the show floor.
• Make top executives available throughout the
day if possible.
• Have everyone practice the 30-second
commercial or elevator speech so it flows
naturally with attendees.
Now go out and conquer that
next trade show!
---Source: Renea Myers is the
President of Renea Myers Marketing. As one of our
favorite authors, she writes her articles especially
for DM Advisor readers. Visit her web site at
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