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Trade Show Tips and Advice

Before the Show

From marketing materials to general logistics, before you even get to the show, there is a lot of work to do.

  • Display banner or sign: this will take research to find the best company to work with depending on your time frame.
  • Brochure: whether you make a simple tri-fold design or an entire booklet, this will take time to design and determine the content.
  • Promotional materials such as: flash drives, sticky note books, microfiber clothes, and pens. There is an unlimited amount of marketing gimmicks out there. Research and looking at what other people do is always a good start.
  • Building coordination: a month before the show, depending on the location of the trade show, you may be working with a third party company for set up of carpet or chairs and the actual building for electricity. Be sure you know who to contact for whatever you need.
  • Logistics: at least six months in advance, every attendee for your company will need an airline ticket (or other method of transportation or possibly reimbursement) and a possibly a hotel room, depending on the distance to the show from your office.
  • Social Media: during the time leading up to the show, announce on social media that you will be attending and consider putting a line or two in your email signature.
  • Metrics: how does your company define success? Is it by the number of business cards you hand out? Is it by the number of business cards you collected? Or by how many people recognized your business? Try to come up with a reasonable, measurable goal for your attendees to achieve.

During the Show

Stay focused on the goals your company set up and keep track of your progress.

  • Networking: the truth is: no one likes to network. It’s awkward. You feel like you’re asking someone for something before you truly have a solid business relationship. The only upside is: no one likes to network. Everyone feels the same way you do. The way to get through it is to smile, be approachable, and be friendly.
  • Exposure: the whole point of going to trade shows is to spread the word about your company. Sure, all of those booths can be overwhelming. On the other hand, many company’s representatives are there on a mission; the hunt. Their bosses told them “Go find more vendors” or “Find us a consultant.” Guess who the hero is, now? That’s right. You.
  • Opportunities: those hunters on a mission will make their needs crystal clear. Now is your time to shine.
  • Freebies: a few days before you leave, check with your coworkers and see if they have any requests for free stuff. Everyone likes free stuff.
  • Throughout the show, take photos and stay active on social media. If the trade show has an app, be active on it, and use it to connect.

After the Show

  • Follow ups: when you return, follow up on every single business card you received. These are leads or people who you need to follow up with to let them know you are interested in collaborating together even after the show.
  • Assess whether the attendees reached their goal then discuss opportunities for improvement for next year.
  • Post pictures on social media and announce that the show was a success when you return!