Advertising & Marketing

How to Prepare for a Trade Show Event

Feeling like your booth’s a little bland? A fairy godmother would come in handy during trade show season. While we can’t wave our wand and make you the belle of the ball, we can tell you how to assemble the right strategy, vision, and team for your next event. These tips will teach you how to prepare for a trade show, so you can take your display from basic to best in show. 

Pre-Trade Show Checklist

Long before the day arrives, this is the trade show prep list you’ll want to check twice. Make sure you’re marking off these planning essentials long before the trade show looms close: 

  • Strategy: Think big picture – what is your theme? What elements do you want in your display? How is everything going to tie together to tell your brand’s story?
  • Something to Say: Don’t think your staff can play it all off the cuff. Make a script! Even if it isn’t used much, preparing words ahead of time will keep your staff on theme and your presentation professional.
  • Decorative Branding: Don’t leave listeners guessing what your business is. Make your logo plainly visible and tastefully placed all over your presentation.
  • Promotional Gifts: Nobody wants to leave a trade show empty-handed. Send customers and vendors home with branded gifts they can brag about.
  • Pamphlets: There’s only so much you can say at the booth, so make sure you have well-designed pamphlets that say it all. These will be essential reminders for all of your key presentation points, plus information on where customers can learn more.
  • Pick Your Staff: Who do you want to represent your brand? Whoever has the time? Make sure your best people have open schedules and are prepped to present long before you’re putting the rest of your display together.

Four People You Want to Bring

A good booth is nothing without the right people to man it. For the best success at any trade show event, make sure you have at least these four people along in your event staff. 

  • A Booth Watcher: Every booth needs someone to man the chair. Sitting comfortable and handing out gifts may not be the hardest job, but someone has to do it. They also make good substitutes when someone needs a break.
  • A Speaker: This the person who will do most of the talking. With the sparkling wit of a master salesperson and the endless energy of an extrovert, this person was born to draw a crowd. You may even want more than one of these key speakers working together to present.
  • A Fisher: You don’t want everyone crowded around the booth – send one person forward to help usher people toward your presentation. Vivacious, helpful, and quick on their feet make this team member the ultimate “fisher of men.”
  • A Social Butterfly: This person won’t be spending much time at your booth at all. Instead, they’re out speaking with vendors, taking notes on other presentations, making connections, and leaving a trail of business cards in their wake.

Goals For Your Trade Show Promotions

Trade shows are about more than just giving something. What do you want to take away from your next event? Here are some essential goals to plan for in your next trade show appearance. 

  • Share Your Brand: Be seen! Share your message! When you go to a trade show, go with the goal of leaving an impression on everyone there. While it seems obvious, this goal is much easier said than done and takes a great deal of planning to pull off.
  • Make Industry Connections: When there’s a gathering of all the big wigs in your industry, it’s important that you go with a plan for making friends. These connections can be essential steppingstones to grow your business for years onward.
  • Customer Loyalty: This is your big chance to interact personally with your customers, so don’t blow it! Share gifts, get interactive, and shower them with the type of attention that turns casual customers into life-long fans.
  • Find New Vendors: Looking to scale your operations? Want to see who the competition is working with? Many trade shows will give you exclusive access to the best vendors in your industry, so make sure you’re taking the time to talk to them.
  • Learn Something New: Honestly, the biggest mistake you can make at a trade show is sticking to your booth the whole time. There are so many other presentations going on – take advantage of the chance to learn something new about your industry.

Display Ideas to Get You Noticed

While a table, chair, and cutesy banner are all great classics, you’re going to need to step up your game if you want to get noticed. Whether you’re presenting at a local trade show or an international event, here are some clever ways to upgrade your display above the competition. 

  • Interactive Elements: Don’t turn your event visitors into passive listeners. Give them something to do! Spin a prize wheel, interact with a virtual display, set up a message tree, whatever it takes to get them involved in the presentation.
  • Create an Atmosphere: Lights, smells, music, add that subtle touch that’s so you and will cement your presentation in their memory. A good atmospheric addition can also draw customers on an instinctual level that’s hard to beat.
  • Reward Your Listeners: They’re giving you their time, so give them something in return. A coupon, a treat, a voucher, trade show promotional products – something that tip the scale from “interesting” to “best part of the event.”
  • Think Outside the Booth: Get creative with your setup. Incorporate props, roll out the red carpet, set up a sitting space, just don’t leave your brand experience in the hands of a trifold on a table.
  • Add a Surprise: What’s better than a gift? One you didn’t expect! Find ways to incorporate the element of surprise in your presentation, such as a bag full of hidden goodies, or a raffle where everyone wins.

Must-Have Trade Show Promotional Products to Share

Portable, impressive, and packed with branding potential, these promotional items for trade shows are sure to be the highlight of any customer’s trade show experience. 

A Pen

A pen is a classic gift that is easy to share, easy to take home, and so useful to have around. The best pens will be stylish, colorful, and immediately identifiable as your brand. This Alpha pen captures it all with bold colors, a laser engraved logo, shiny accents, and a double-function as a stylus. 

A Tote Bag

Your customers only have two hands, but they can carry a lot of swag with bags like these! Easy to fold and use again, water-resistant, and the perfect goodie bag, these totes will put your logo over everything they carry home from the event. 

A Tumbler

Phew, a long day at a trade show is sure to make anybody thirsty. Offer the refreshing drink your customers need with a branded take-home tumbler made to be used again and again. This tumbler makes for an excellent giveaway whether as a prize, a handout, or a take home treat with insulation made for hot or cold drinks. 

A Treat

Did you know taste takes up a huge part of your memory? A little something sweet can really make your brand memorable. While any dum-dum can put out a jar of suckers, you can go the extra mile with custom chocolate treats featuring your unique branding. 

Are you ready to make the most of out of your next industry event? Feel like you know how to prepare for a trade show? With the right goals, the right people, and a well-strategized presentation, your display will be the star of the show. But don’t forget the other displays! Trade shows also present a unique opportunity to make connections and learn from others in your industry. 

Katie Yelisetti

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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