Making the most of tradeshowsThere are many reasons to consider partaking in a trade show. The number one reason is the fact that you will get to meet potential clients as well as network with other professionals. As beneficial as trade shows are to your business, just showing up at the venue and winging it won t cut it. As important as a well-designed trade show booth is, a plan of action must be in place before even entering the event to be a success.

You wouldnt show up to school for a class presentation without knowing what you are going to say or what visual aides you are going to display would you? This is sort of the same concept. Most businesses plan for months to come up with the design of their trade show exhibits as well as what their objectives are. Here are just a few things for you to consider if you want to make the most of this experience.

Plan Before the Show

I know I m repeating myself here record, so bare with me. I just can t stress enough the importance of how winging it will do more harm than good. Talk to the trade show organizers and get a list and map of all of the vendors who will be at the show and where to find them. This way you will be able to plan which ones you want to see and where they will be located.

Also, make sure a clear goal is set and communicated to your staff.

  • What ROI do you want to obtain?
  • What vendors do you want to visit?

One question I often hear is How do I measure my success from the show? By having a clear goal you want to accomplish and documenting everything that happened at the show, you will be able to determine if you met your goal or not.

Dress for success

There is a fine line between comfortable and trashy. You re going to be cramped in the trade show venue for hours among hundreds of other exhibitors. Depending on your industry and the standards of the show, it may not be reasonable for you and your staff to wear formal business attire. Nothing makes me more miserable than wearing a business suit in a 100 degree building. However, wearing shorts and tank tops won t cut it either. It is important to look professional while still being comfortable. If the employees at your business wear uniforms, have the booth staff wear uniforms. Comfortable shoes are also a must, since many venues have hard concrete floor. Adding trade show flooring to your display will be a godsend to your feet, since most flooring is padded, enhancing the comfort for both your staff and visitors.

Don t forget the business cards!

Bring a stash of business cards to the event to hand out. If you will not be at the event, make sure you have a booth staff that will be outgoing and not afraid to introduce themselves to other professionals. Also, don t lead other professionals on by making them think you will be doing business with them. Try to only talk to businesses that will be doing business with you, or vice versa. For those of you who like the word "free", you are sure to walk away with a heavy load of free stuff by talking to these other business professionals.

Trade shows have been proven to be an effective marketing tool, whether you have a small or large business. One of the best parts of an exhibit is the fact that all participants will be equal competitors and they are coming to see you! The ones that will stand out the most are those with well-designed trade show exhibits that are willing to introduce themselves without being too pushy, are knowledgeable and excited about what they sell, and who are well prepared. Now that I m at the end, I m going to say it again just because I can DON T WING IT . Go in with a plan and what you want to take away from the event. Your company and your bottom line will be happy you did.