Nine Rules for a Successful Trade Show

Trade shows are making a comeback. Companies are starting to get back out there and display their products and services. Others are sending people to go and learn about what is offered.
As much as trade shows have been maligned in recent years (due in part to the emergence of the internet), they are still a valuable tool for new business. 
A couple weeks ago, I was in San Francisco for one of the largest Solar Energy shows in the world when my client made a simple but profound statement. 
Looking at all the prospects milling about his booth, he said, “We could never afford to send our sales team out to meet so many new prospects face-to-face.”
He was right. Trade shows aren’t cheap — but they cost a lot less than traveling to meet each new prospect. That makes them a good value. 
And if you’re going to do a trade show, you might as well do it right — or not at all. So I’ve outlined nine rules that will help ensure your success as an exhibitor at an industry trade show.
1. LOCATION – If youíre not on the main floor of the event, you might as well stay home, or go and hand out business cards without a booth. Register early, talk to the show officials about known traffic patterns, and (this may surprise you) try to be located near competitors. Just like car dealers, their visitors are likely to visit you if they see a similar product nearby.
2. BOOTH SIZE – Bigger is better. Sorry, a 10 x 10 says you are a ìwannabeî instead of a player. If you canít do a 20 x 30, wait until you can afford to do so. Also GO HIGH. You only pay for floor space, so build your booth as tall as possible.
3. BOOTH DESIGN – Have a professional (like Farris Marketing) do it. It will outshine the competitors and attract many more qualified prospects.
4. PRE-SHOW PROMO – You must mail and email prospects and customers and ask them to visit you there. Send free entry tickets to the best prospects. 
5. SALES TEAM PLANNING – Bring the best salespeople. And have a checklist of sales points to make to prospects.
6. DON’T STAND TOGETHER – …and chat among yourselves like a coffee club. Stay in the middle of the booth looking out and smiling as people approach.
7. APPROACHING PROSPECTS – Nervous salespeople often ask for a script. I say keep it simple. If someone stops at your booth and looks, walk up to them and put out your hand and say, “Hi, I’m ________.” A prospect’s natural instinct will be to shake hands and introduce themselves also. Then ask if they have any questions or ask about their firm.
8. GIVEAWAYS – Too much is made of this. It’s not a “must,” but I prefer flash drives with company literature stored on it.
9. FOLLOW UP –I don’t need to tell you to contact those who expressed serious interest. But those who seem like “possibles” – keep them on your mailing list.
While your competitors are sleeping, you could be making contacts at an industry trade show. Trade shows are making a comeback, and this may be your chance to do the same.
Stay Tuned and Stay Smart.

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Email questions and comments to and connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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