Toronto Mike

Try These Simple, No-Nonsense Tips To Make Your Trade Show Booth A Success

In the world of trade show marketing, the term “dog-eat-dog” doesn’t quite sum it up; there are no easy victories and competition for investor attention is incredibly stiff. Trade shows are a magnet for capital – the lifeblood your business craves to get it to the next level. But in a sea of digital signage, flashy booths, and promotional items, how good is your company at standing out from the crowd? By thinking strategically and following a few of the tips listed below, you can increase your odds of making a profitable impression on investors.

Reap the windfall of booking early

When it comes to your business, there’s likely very little you would leave to chance – so why let the fates decide where your booth ends up? By registering early, many event organizers allow you to select your booth location.

A great location is an indication to investors that your business is successful – and that’s an impression that you can certainly leverage. The opposite unfortunately, is equally true – being stuck in the back corner of a vast auditorium won’t do anything to boost your company’s stock in the eyes of an investor.

Want to be the first vendor potential clients see? Book early and that valuable real estate can be yours.

Give the people what they want: Snacks

If you’ve got the budget, provide a few snacks to potential clients. Things like bottled water are an excellent way to draw guests to your booth. Refreshments breed conversation – and conversations at trade shows lead to investors.

Bring the right team

Correctly identifying your staffing needs for your trade show display can have a big impact on your overall success. Be sure to include the members of your team that scream “I am a people person” (not literally of course, you don’t want to terrify anyone). The top characteristics your team should exhibit:

  • Approachability
  • Friendliness
  • Engaging
  • Knowledgeable

In addition to having the right team members being the face of your business, give special consideration to how many staff you will need on the floor. Having too few could mean missed opportunities; having too many may make potential investors feel too uncomfortable to approach your display.

"Booth Babes" Attract Investors: A Marketing Myth To Avoid

We’ve all heard the saying, “sex sells” – but does it? Consider some of the following before shelling out a portion of your marketing budget on these “promotional consultants”:

  • They’re paid to look nice, not sell your company.
  • You risk alienating female investors. “Booth babes” can send potential clients the wrong message about your organization before you’ve even had a chance to speak to them.
  • Can you spare the real estate? Take a moment to reflect on whether or not your business would benefit more from someone who can answer questions and build relationships or from a scantily clad co-ed.
  • This tactic is pretty transparent and may give the impression that your company can’t sell itself.

Besides all that, Spencer Chen split-tested this tactic a few years ago and the results were cut and dry. It simply doesn’t work.

Offer An Incentive For Stopping By - But Not To Everyone

If you’ve taken the time to contact potential clients before the show, consider enticing them to stop by your booth with a can’t miss incentive. This could be anything from a special discount for attending the show or a chance to win a prize. Be selective however – even if you’re not handing out “swaggables” to everyone passing your table (ineffective and costly) holding a contest that is open to unqualified leads could turn into a time and money sink if your entrant pool is diluted with uninterested attendees.

Dress for Success

To many, this one is a no-brainer, but it’s nonetheless something that gets overlooked quite a bit. Investors know that clothes don’t necessarily make the man or woman, but they do go a long way to creating a positive first impression.

Do Your Homework and Don’t Get Caught By Surprise

If you’ve never done a trade show before, consider attending a couple before taking part in one. Assuming that you’ve likely invested in some kind of custom exhibit design, you’d really be doing yourself and your business a disservice if you appear to be a fish out of water during the exhibition.

Attending a show will give you the opportunity to examine and make note of what some of the more successful companies are doing; and while you might not have the budget to duplicate their success, you can certainly talk to them about what worked well in the past and perhaps more importantly, what didn’t.

Technology May Be Your Friend, But Make It Your Business Partner

If your business engages your target market via social media on a regular basis, incorporate your attendance into your marketing strategy. Start by creating hype and excitement leading up to the event and invite your followers to attend. Schedule posts ahead of time so attendees receive your posts while at the show – an excellent reminder to stop by for a chat.

Do As I Do, Not As I Say

Wherever possible, have your product on display for use in live demos. The simple truth is that all the fancy talk in the world is no substitute for something that can be held in one’s hand. Investors want to see and touch your products, and there’s no better way to deliver a FaB sandwich (Features and Benefits) than showing them how your product works. After all, seeing is believing is it not?

Remember, trade shows can be a boon to your business; by taking the time to develop a strategy beforehand and doing a little prep work, your trade show experience can go from good, to great, to exceptional.

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About Toronto Mike
I own TMDS and host Toronto MIke'd. Become a Patron.