The Top Tips for First-time Trade Show Exhibitors

A company’s first trade fair is always a momentous occasion in a brand’s history, because it’s the way you introduce your products and your message in a professional environment. You meet not just potential customers, but also your direct competition and a good first impression goes a long, long way in these circles. As a first-time exhibitor, you have a lot to consider and you’re not sure exactly what you’re doing.

It takes a few trade shows under your belt to understand how to best position yourself at any given event, so this makes the first few attempts at exhibiting exploratory in nature. What are the best tips in that case to keep in mind? We have you covered with a handy guide:

Always Set Goals

Goals are how you determine, if you’ve been successful as a trade fair or wasted a lot of money. You need to be SMART about your goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Most often these goals boil down to sales and leads, but in some cases they’re connected with networking, presence, response to a product, etc.

Focus on Booth Design

Your booth is your home at any event and probably where you will sink a lot of your budget, so you need to start your preparations early. This will earn significant discounts when it comes to renting the booth, ordering promotional materials or furniture. You also need to think about what statement your booth design makes. Effort is what’s needed to stand out from the crowd.

Promotions & Giveaways Are Key

You want to divert foot traffic to your booth and the best way to engage overly stimulated trade visitors is to introduce some element of fun and offer value. Discounts, lottery games and competitions allow you to excite visitors and then hook them for whatever products you have on offer. Then you can change the conversation and have them assume the role of potential customers. This will also give you the chance to perform the next tip, which is…

Gather as Much Client Data as Possible

Data is power and you want trade visitors to leave you with as much information about themselves as possible. Having a questionnaire at the ready, when interacting with visitors is crucial, and one way to mask this activity and make subjects open to this questioning process is to host games and giveaways. It doesn’t need to be complicated.

Don’t Forget to Follow up Afterwards

The biggest mistake we have seen is letting your leads and potential sales slip by you, because you haven’t followed up. It’s understandable! You’ve just come home. You’re tired. There’s a lot of other work to catch up at the office, but you have a narrow window of opportunity to capitalize on any good will and social capital you’ve raised during the trade show. You have to send emails. Make phone calls. Reply to texts and interact on social media. That’s how you succeed at a trade fair!

Write A Report about the Results

In the end (after you’ve done all the follow-up so that you know, if you’ve managed to convert leads to sales), we advise you to write up a very detailed report on the whole experience. The report should compare your initial goals and what you’ve accomplished, the contacts you’ve made, the proposed budget with what actually the whole event cost your company. This report gives you a point of reference in the future, when you decide to exhibit again, and serves as a teaching guide as to what you can improve next time. Trust us – a follow-up report is one of the most useful tools to have. Its purpose only comes out in the future, which is why many don’t see the point in having one. But rest assured, next year or in two years’ time you’ll have to plan for another show and you’ll be wondering what you did the first time around.

In short, these are the best beginners tips to focus on when exhibiting for the first time. There are so many finer points to explore, but with this blueprint, you’re assured a fine first outing!