7 Tips for a Winning Trade Show Booth
Photo by rpongsaj.
Exhibiting at trade shows is a very beneficial way to network for freelancers. Whether attending or actually exhibiting at the event, face time is essential in giving prospective clients the opportunity to get to know you. What could be better for business than having a bunch of one-on-one conversations about what services you offer?
If you’ve never exhibited at a trade show before, or if you are just looking for a few new ideas to freshen up your booth space, I’ve jotted down a few tips that have helped to make my trade show experiences a success.
Have your business cards ready
Business cards are a must-have at any trade show whether you’re participating in the event itself or wandering from booth to booth. Do be sure to have your cards neatly placed on your table in a place that is accessible and easy to spot. Keeping a few in-hand for those networking conversations can be helpful as well. While it is important to calculate the number of freebies to giveaway, business cards is an area not to skimp on. Be sure to bring plenty and then some.
Make sure you have easy-to-read signage
Signs and visuals are a reliable way to attract attention by people walking past. To ensure your signs are working for you properly, be sure they can be read in one to three seconds, just like a billboard. By using colors that match your branding, you can continue to keep your marketing materials consistent, offering a more professional feel. A quick headline that’s easy to understand and attention getting can create a big impact as well.
Host a raffle
A raffle is a fun way to gather information from prospects. Simply pick an item that you think is interesting enough to serve as a “prize.” Next, place a fishbowl or vase on a table and ask individuals to drop in their business card for a chance to win. Also note on a small sign, that by offering their card, the attendee is giving you permission to contact them with news/special offers from your business or company.
Designate a drawing time during the event and require that the winner be present to win; this tactic brings attendants back to your booth. A phone call or email to notify the winner a day or two after the show works as well. Not only have you created a memorable way to interact with your prospects, but you’ve also gained their permission to stay in touch with direct or e-mail campaigns.
Add some greenery
I’m amazed at how dreary some trade show events can be. In order to liven up your booth space a bit and to give the eye something refreshing to look at, try bringing in a few plants or flower bundles. This is a great way to liven up the look of your display and you can also give away a nice arrangement or two as your raffle prize.
Trade shows can be very dark. Often these events are held in large convention centers and with all the display signage and props, a lot of shadows are cast. Think about setting a decorative table lamp or spot light on your booth table. It will brighten up your space, attract more attention and make you stand out a bit from your fellow exhibitors.
When trying to figure out how many promotional items to bring, first do a little research on the event. Often, the show organizer will be able to offer a rough estimate of how many people are expected to attend. I, personally, think it’s important to talk to the visitors that stop by and are interested enough to seek out my freebies. Therefore, if I want to talk to every person that picks up an item for five minutes, and the event is only three hours long, that’s only 36 give-aways that I could possibly hand out comfortably.
There are the few trade show attendees who do run from booth to booth trying to gather as many promos as possible. For these types of situations, do be sure to have a few extra materials on hand.
The work is not yet done even though the event may be. Be sure to follow up with any raffle winners you had and any contacts you made. I usually wait one or two business days so I don’t seem too eager. Any longer than that, however, and you’re giving your prospective client the chance to forget about your encounter. Remind the person of your conversation and work to set up a meeting.
Trade shows are certainly a lot of work and do require some time. However, think of them as networking meetings with you as a focal point; people attend specifically to see the vendors and booth exhibitors. By working to gain their attention, create interesting visuals and by following up, you can turn a trade show into time very well spent.