We have two words for small businesses looking to promote their brands: Trade Shows. An exhibition or trade show presents a great opportunity to connect with potential clients, as it draws plenty of foot traffic. With thorough preparation and by following the tips in this post, you can rock your next trade show, securing enough new business to launch your company to the next level.

Researching the Trade Show / Expo / Event

Since attending an exhibition or trade show requires some investment, it is important to use every tool and opportunity at your disposal to ensure its success. Before you commit, make sure it is, in fact, something that will benefit your business:

Who will be attending?

You want to make sure that those attendees who have already confirmed, are relevant to your industry. This goes for both exhibitionists and clients alike.

How likely are you to turn a profit?

Find out how the event went for attendees in the last two years. You will invest a large sum of money into the event and you need to be sure that the prospects are good before you sign up.

Designing Your Trade Show Stand For Maximum Impact

Once you have completed your event research, it is time to start thinking about how you can make the most of your stand.

Type of Stand

A stress-free stand with an imposing backdrop should help ensure the best return on your investment. Consider your budget and the logistics of your stand and business when deciding on the type of stand. Remember, it is not about how amazing your stand is, but rather about the quality of your services and products. Blend beauty and functionality, and stay within your range of affordability.

Stand Design

You only have a few seconds to grab trade show attendees’ attention. Make it count by expressing your brand persona through the design of your exhibition stand. Ensure that your visuals and clear, concise content relay your unique value proposition. Having your visuals professionally designed would be a great investment.

Bring along chairs along for attendees. After a long day on their feet, they will be much more amenable to listen to your pitch if you offer them a seat.

Be YOUnique

Thousands of people attend trade shows every year. Many industry veterans attend the same exhibitions every year. This is your opportunity to show what makes you different to the other exhibitors by engaging with your audience and by letting your brand shine.

Putting Together Your Trade Show Strategy

Now that you have your stand ready, it is time to execute your plan. It all starts with…

Planning Lead Conversion

The objective of your exhibition stand at the trade show is to attract and convert more leads. How do you plan to do that? Two popular tools include digital signup forms and business cards. Have everything you need on hand to help establish a database of leads which you can nurture and lead towards sales.

  • Bring a container in which to collect business cards
  • Write notes on the back of business cards as specific reminders about the lead

Recruiting an Awesome Team

When choosing a team to run your trade show stand, select those who:

  • are at least as passionate about the business as you are
  • have as much knowledge as you do about the company
  • exude your brand persona

Remember that first impressions matter, and the image your team presents at the trade show could open important doors in the future.

  • Hire sufficient staff to never leave the booth unattended
  • Be friendly
  • Be engaging
  • Look attendees in the eye (not in a creepy way, though!) and smile
  • Acknowledge attendees’ presence
  • Don’t start out with a sales pitch
  • Hand out a business card or promo item
  • Make your pitch short and engaging

Promote Your Stand Beforehand

Let your following know that you’ll be attending the event before and after the event via social media. Not only does it create awareness about the fact that you’re attending, but it will also help to drive traffic towards your stand on exhibition day.

  • Tweet about the event
  • Create a Facebook event
  • Invite clients and prospects you wish to meet at the events

During the Event

  • Take plenty photos
  • Share live video on social media
  • Attend keynote sessions, parties, and sessions

After the Event

After the event, stay in touch with the audience you have built at the event and nurture those relationships via social media and email marketing.

  • Take a day to debrief
  • Collate your contacts into a new database
  • Follow up right away, while they are fresh
  • Write up a blog post

Being prepared for your trade show exhibition is the key to success. No matter which angle you take, it is important to be prepared for any eventuality. Preparedness will ensure that you, your staff and your clientele are all relaxed at the event, which is the right frame of mind for creating openness and engagement.