Here it comes – trade show season! Trade shows can be intimidating. Rows of booths, noise, buzzwords and a thousand business cards you know you should sort once you return. How do you ensure you’re meeting relevant people and making a positive impression, so they’ll respond when you contact them later?

Perfect Your Pitch Prior to Participating

Before you book your booth, you need to know what your goal is for participating. Are you there to sell? Make contacts? Increase brand awareness? If you don’t have a strong business reason to be there, it’s a waste of your time and money. Your goal determines your pitch.
Practice your pitch at home or with colleagues, working out an effective opening and key points. KEEP IT SHORT! People attending busy trade shows will give you very little time to make your case.

Create an Eye-Catching, Memorable Booth

1.      Don’t Overbook Your Space

Purchase the size space that you can fill effectively. Bigger is not always better. You’ll save money and effort.

2.      Design

Consider color and layout. You want to draw attention, but you don’t want to be garish. Match it with your branding and think about what might grab the eye of busy attendees. Who will be next to you? What will their booth look like? How will you stand out?

If there is a likelihood you will have discussions with interested attendees or will offer a short video, then a seating area might be a great addition. Your booth should look busy but not crowded.

3.      Experience

Experience is important to your booth but needs to be relevant. Don’t set up a video game tournament if your business is building custom cabinetry. The experience attendees have at your booth helps attract people who are interested in working with you.

People enjoy activities where they can do something different, fun and engaging that leads them into a conversation with you. Draw them in and offer your short, friendly pitch once you have their attention.

4.      Wording

Choosing wording to market your business can be challenging. To be memorable, use your imagination and don’t be afraid to be different or funny. Buzzwords seem appropriate, but when every booth is using the same terms, who should your audience believe? Find something catchy, creative and humorous if appropriate to grab attention. And keep it short – you have a limited time to grab attention! Think billboard, not brochure-length copy.

Be Engaging

Trade shows can be exhausting but try to maintain your energy. Every time you sit down or look disengaged, you lose a potential client or meeting. Get your coffee and comfy shoes, be energetic but not over the top and be on your feet ready to greet people. Take notes during conversations to show interest and to help when you email or call people later. They’ll be more impressed if you remembered their love of football than if you use a generic “Hi, it was good to meet you …”
Following these tips can ensure that your next trade show is successful, and a true return on your investment. You’ll make the most relevant contacts and be remembered for all the right reasons. Good luck!