Setting yourself up for trade show success

Trade shows are highly enjoyable to attend as an attendee; you get to wander aimlessly around, chatting to exhibitors, collecting all kinds of interesting freebies. While trade shows can be a lot of fun to attend as an attendee, when you’re running a business and a stand at one, it can become a lot more stressful.

However, that being said, just because trade shows can be stressful as an exhibitor, that doesn’t mean you should avoid attending them. The fact is that for businesses of any shape and size, attending trade shows is vital, especially if you are serious about growing your business into a prosperous and profitable brand. Of course, despite the benefits of attending a trade show, that doesn’t make them any less daunting to attend when you’ve never exhibited at one before.

Part of the anxiety that many business owners feel in relation to attending trade shows is linked to how competitive they can be. Often, the price for attending a trade show is rather high, which means that the cost needs to be justifiable in terms of your expenses. However, knowing whether or not the trade show will be a success for your brand is difficult to determine.

The truth is that while trade shows can be complicated to make a success of, as there is a lot that needs to be considered, you can set yourself up for success. Believe it or not, when it comes to trade show success, it’s just a case of knowing what steps you need to take.

Want to know what steps all the most successful trade show exhibitors swear by? Then read on, for everything that you need to know.

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Be selective about your spot

If possible, be selective about what spot you are given for your business’s stand. Admittedly, there’s normally a higher cost for certain spots, such as the stand locations in the area that gets the most foot traffic. However, this isn’t always this much more than being randomly assigned a spot, which is why it’s worthwhile taking the time to determine how much extra this would be, to see if it’s affordable. Think of it this way, if paying a little more guarantees you a stand that will get heavier footfall then it may be something that’s worthwhile doing.

Take branding seriously

Think carefully about the trade stands that you have seen in the past and found highly memorable? What was it about those stands that stood out? If you want attendees to choose to visit your stand over the hundreds others in attendance, it’s vital that you ensure your stand is eye-catching and interesting. Of course, the question is, how you can you guarantee that this is the case? What does it take to create a stand that is highly appealing to everyone that sees it?

The key to success when it comes to creating a stand that will make passersby want to stop and take a look is being quirky and creative. Think bright, bold, colourful – the more creative you can be, the better. Everything should match, from the table clothes that you have in place to the brochures, flyers, and the stand itself.

You may not have considered it but you could choose to have a professional booth designed. Instead of simply having a table and some branded marketing materials such as signs and banners in place, you could choose to have a full booth designed by a professional trade show booth designer. Admittedly, this would come at a much higher cost, but you could use it for every trade show that you attend, making it an investment that is worthwhile.

Be vocal on social media

You can’t simply expect people to know that you are attending a trade show – if you don’t tell people that you will be there, how will they know? This is where social media comes in – if you are going to have a large amount of people visiting your stand throughout the event, it’s vital that you are vocal on social media about the fact that you will be in attendance.

If you don’t have a range of social media accounts, now is the time to create them. Not only so that you can share updates in the lead up to the event but also for during the event, you can share what’s going on at your stand and where attendees can find you. By having social media accounts, you may also find that other attendees and the organisers of the event themselves connect with you on social media and tag you in statuses and tweets relating to the event, helping to boost brand awareness.

Incentivize your stand

To guarantee that your booth appeals to passersby, it’s important that you take steps to incentivise it. If you want to ensure that your stand gets a lot of foot fall, it’s vital that you are smart about what you’re offering to people who visit your stand. Goodie bags, deals and discounts, complimentary drinks and snacks – all of these things can be highly effective at encouraging people to visit your stand.

When it comes to what you are offering people who visit your stand, it’s important to opt for branded freebies. It’s all well and good giving away freebies to people who visit your stand, but what you need to ensure is that the things you’re giving away are branded up with your information, so that they’re worth the cost. When it comes to choosing products to give away, it’s important to get creative – click here for more information and ideas about what you could opt to offer.

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Host competitions

Trade shows are extremely busy places, which means that there are plenty of visitors that you could pull into your stand. The issue is that it’s not always easy to do so, as there’s just so much competition. However, if you are smart about your marketing and what you offer on your stand, you can attract a large number of people. Competitions are one thing that always seem to do well, as everyone likes to win things.

Host an unmissable competition over on your stand – be creative and come up with a unique angle. A bottle of wine or a box of chocolates is all well and good but it’s not enough to woo a high number of attendees – think bigger. If you offer a service, perhaps you could give people the chance to win a month’s worth of free services? Or, if you are a product-based company, perhaps you could offer a voucher to purchase some of your products? While you could simply offer a hamper of products, it’s best to let people choose what they get as a prize, so that the competition is as appealing to as many people as possible.

Move around

Don’t make the mistake of staying on your stand at all times. Instead, bring your stand to people around the show. Have enough staff helping out that you can send two people off at periods throughout the day to hand out leaflets, sign people up to your competitions, and build connections. By leaving your stand and mingling with people in attendance, you can give your chances of trade show success a better opportunity.

Make sure that the team members you send out are branded up. This means matching uniforms that tell people that they belong to your company. The more branded up they are, the better. You want people to instantly recognise your team and your brand, which is why effective branding at all times is so important.

Befriend other exhibitors

Okay, so trade shows are full of competing brands but that doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly to each other. The fact is that if you make an effort to be friendly to other exhibitors, they should be friendly back. You never know, you may meet a company in your industry but that isn’t a direct competitor who is happy to team up and send you any customers who aren’t a good fit for them but may be for you, and you can do the same for them.

Trade shows are like giant networking events. They’re not just fantastic for building connections with potential customers, they’re also great for making connections with other business owners within the industry that you’re in, and building a range of professional connections. Don’t make the mistake of not taking the time to network while in attendance, as if you don’t, being there is a waste of time.

The fact is that while trade shows have the potential to be hugely successful events, they can also be extremely daunting, especially if you are planning your first one. However, the good news is that if you are smart about the approach that you take and are mindful of what needs to be done to be successful, you shouldn’t have any problems making a success of things. Take note of the tips and advice above and implement them in how you run your stand, and you should have the most amazing few days.

*This is a contributed post

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