Tips For More Successful Trade Shows

Trade Shop Display    Tips for More Productive Trade Shows  Build it and they will come… sure, but will they remember you.  

I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First, for the bad news… trade shows are hard work, a logistical nightmare and second only to field sales as the most expensive cost per lead. But now the good news… if well planned and executed, a trade show can pay off handsomely in quality leads.

 Many companies spend more time planning their recreational activities outside of the trade show than their activities in the show. They will just sign up for the show… take a day to pack the display… arrive at the show… open the display case and whoops! out drops last year’s lead sheets… yep, the leads that never got followed up on last year!

How do you select which trade show to attend? 
Companies give some suprising reasons for how they select the trade shows they attend:
a. “Out of habit! We just always go to that show.”
b. “We have to be there because our competition is there.”
c. “The boss likes to play golf there!” (most troubling) 

Frequently, companies assume that the competition knows more than they do about the value of a show. There is no point spending time and money having conversations that will be unproductive so your show selection is important.. A good way to determine what shows to go to is to ask your current customers where they are planning to go this year.

Also, ask the sales force what they are hearing out in the field. Take the time and reevaluate your show selection.

Pre-show Mailings and Press Releases:

Get the attendee list or last years list and do a few pre-show mailers and press releases focusing on what is new about your product/service. Mention the show, date, place, booth number and have pictures of your products, and your logo. You are trying to build brand recognition in everything you do to get it embedded in your propspects memory so your logo and colors should be everywhere. 

Trade Show Apparel:

I know you probably don’t love that bright red shirt with the blue and white company logo on it but you ARE the company when you are at the show. You need to look professional and recognizable (your company logo and colors). Apparel with your logo and colors will help the people who came to the booth remember your company. It will also help generate contacts outside of the booth as your staff walks the show. Look professional and recognizable! 

Additional staff will need training on how to guide people into your booth! Train your staff!

This is probably the single most important task and probably the least done. You have just invested a good portion of your marketing dollars on a show to get quality conversations with qualified leads don’t let them slip away!  

1. Don’t let your staff  huddle in the corner of the booth chatting as your prospects walk by. 

2. Stand outside the booth looking to answer questions and READ the ID tags! You’d be surprised how often you’ll meet up with a new prospect at a company you are already doing business with or recognize a name of someone you’ve been calling on for months. Adding a face to the name and having a short conversation will make a world of difference next time you call. 

3. Have someone in the booth that can talk intelligently about your product and that can answer questions and listen, listen, listen and take short notes when a prospect comes into the booth. You are there to try to make a connection not just make a sales pitch. If you can solve his problem, he’ll remember you! 

4. If you want your niece there to help hand out brochures, fine, but give her a few questions she can ask prospects so she can lead a prospect into your booth where your knowledgeable staff will be. Otherwise, it’s just a very expensive way to mail your brochure! 

Offer your brochures and catalogs online and have your web address on everything.  Your information should be as accessible as possible. If you don’t have a good detailed site and it is not kept up then UPDATE it.  People are going to toss out the brochure you gave them thinking they can always get your info online.

You can’t do a good follow up if you are too busy talking. Listen and take short notes and your follow ups will be easy.  If you are delivering a “features and benefits pitch” vs. listening to prosects at the show, it will be very difficult for the sales team to reconnect on the follow up and the call will be just like the 150 other exhibitors they visited… “Hello Mr. Prospect. Thank you for coming to our booth, is there anything we can do for you?”  If you have even a short note on the prospects needs, your follow up will be much more productive.  “Hello Mr. Prospect. Thank you for coming to our booth. I see you had some questions on chrome plating and I have some information for you on that.”  

Now you’ve got him listening.


Written by Mary Dykas, Owner of MVP Visuals supplier of custom printed tablecloths, banners, tents, and a full line of custom printed trade show displays.     


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One Response to “Tips For More Successful Trade Shows”

  1. Maureen Says:

    Great advice!

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