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Your Prep Will Determine Your Trade Show Success... Here's What You Need.

So you’re a small business that decided a trade show is the best investment of some money. Great! Money isn’t the only consideration, though. You’ll need to do a lot of preparation before you attend.

While it’s important to make sure you’re there with your shining personality and incredible ideas, you have to remember that a typical trade show will feature hundreds of other businesses that are in your industry. A lot of those might offer precisely the same product or services that you offer.

While your normal pitch and sales and marketing materials are enough in most cases, you’re going to want to make sure you come with your A game in order to stand out.

Put yourself in the shoes of a trade show attendee. They’re stopping at tons of different booths throughout the day, and they’ve been on their feet. By the time they get to you, there’s a good chance that they’re tired and dehydrated, maybe hungry and a little cranky.

They’ve been smiling and shaking hands all day, and they’ve heard pitches all day. Now that you have that person in your head, rethink your prep for the show. You need to find a way to appeal to that person: exhausted and with sore feet.

For this world-weary traveler, presentation is everything.

Your booth needs to be well designed, eye catching, and inviting. Your literature needs to be accessible, bright and easy to process with concise and smart language. Your pitch is important, but remember these people have heard pitches all day and will hear more after they leave your booth. Keep your interactions brief and positive. Make sure you have a clear and concise call to action.

The trade show isn’t the time or place to be do your full court press pitch and sell, or to do full-fledged demonstrations of the entirety of your business. What is your main purpose for being there?

Whatever your goal is, narrow it down and make it simple and direct. Decide one, or maybe two important things you’d like for people to know about your business and focus on those points for people entering your booth.

Once you’ve got people in your booth and you’ve explained your brief and positive mission statement, you’ll want a way to get their information. Remember, they probably aren’t going to have the time or energy to learn everything there is to know about your business. And if they did, they’ll probably forget after visiting all the other booths at the show.

It’s not their job to remember you at the trade show, it’s your job to remember them.

Lastly, again, remembering the type of day your booth visitors likely had, it’s a nice idea to have a small giveaway for them to grab before leaving your booth. The key here is that the giveaway is small. As nice as it would be to gift everyone that comes to your table with a textbook full of information about your business, they’re NOT going to want to carry that around all day.

Have a small and portable brochure they can take, and a small, token giveaway. Something as simple as candy or mints are effective for people who have been walking and talking all day. Pens are also popular. Extra points if you’re able to come up with a nifty little giveaway with your logo/branding on it!

Going to a trade show is a major undertaking and it’s important that you make the most of it, by having a plan in place to draw people into your booth and to leave a lasting impact. Be an easy and pleasant stop in their long day!

Stay tuned the rest of this week and next week for some more advice on how to kill it at your next trade show! Plus, make sure to check us out on social to see what we're up to on our Cali adventure!

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