Tuesday, January 22, 2013

9 Tips To Remember When Planning For A Trade Show

New year......new products......new hope.  What does this mean--trade shows!

Trade show planning takes time & can add a hefty expense to your budget so make sure you are will prepared before the convention starts.

Industry trade shows, conventions & events are good places to meet existing customers, connect with prospects, keep tabs on current industry trends & see what your competition is working on. These shows are costly & require a good deal of planning & effort.

Make the most of your next trade show exhibit by reading the following 9 tips on trade show planning. The main thing is you need to be noticed among the sea of exhibitors. Your name has to be seen......boldly displayed in your booth & around the building housing the exhibition.  It's so important to stand out from your competitors so get your name out there on customized promotional table covers, polo shirts for the staff & creative promotional imprinted products that can be seen around the show.

9 Tips For Planning A Trade Show Exhibit

1. Choose the right show. While executives & their sales teams would love to go to every industry event, they can be expensive. Will your customers attend?  How many prospects are likely to be there? How much does a booth cost? What kind of attendance has a particular show had in the past? Do your homework & find the best trade show for your company. Be thorough before you send in that deposit--many times a nonrefundable deposit.

2. Ask yourself why you're attending.  Are you launching a new product? Looking to grow the business? Is it a way to keep in touch with your customers & meet them face-to-face? Want to learn about new industry trends? The answers to these questions will dictate what sort of booth or exhibit you have & how many people you need to send to the event.  It should also tell you which show will help expand your business & which ones to avoid.

3. Select a team of skilled sales people to attend the event.  Make sure the individuals you send are people oriented & will make a good impression with your customers & prospects. The members of the team should friendly, outgoing & organized--not to mention capable of selling.

4. Book your hotels & make travel arrangements. Many of the larger trade shows can attract visitors in the tens of thousands. As soon as you have chosen your convention & sales team, take care of the logistics. If air travel is involved, book it far enough in advance to take advantage of lower air fares. Most trade shows team up with hotels in the area to give exhibitors & attendees better rates......check these out before making reservations.

5. Decide on content & creativity for the booth exhibit. Keep messaging clear, concise & as direct as possible. If possible, trade show visitors need to know who you are & what you sell without having to speak to anyone in the booth. Have your merchandise attractively displayed but also easy to see & examine. Above all, don't be boring--that's an invitation for the guests to walk on by without stopping in to explore your product or service......be colorful, be creative.  This may mean a professional needs to be hired to design your booth.  Yes, it's another expense, but it's one your competition may invest in. 

6. A custom table cover will get your booth noticed. As I said above, if needed, hire a professional to build your display. If you want to attract visitors to your booth, you will need something eye-catching. If you can't afford a custom-built exhibit, something as simple as a customized promotional table cover will work. Make sure your company name & logo is large & can be seen before they enter the booth.  The table cover is your first impression, so make it a good one.  This is not the time or place to cut corners. 

 7. Design useful sales tools. Remember that visitors will be stopping by many booths in one day. Make sure you can give your customers & prospects something that will fully inform them about your company in the event they can't return to your booth. Use bold colors & graphics if you are handing out catalogs. I, personally, suggest you give out a flash drive with all your material stored in it. Put your logo on the outside & it becomes a great promotional custom product.

8. Order promotional items to give to visitors. A trade show promotional imprinted product will entice people to stop by your booth & later improve their recall of your company.  Everyone likes a free gift. Give a higher-value item to qualified leads & preferred customers to lure them into making a purchase decision. Most important, don't be an average Joe......a trade show is not the place to give out pens or sticky notes. They'll get lost with everything being collected at the show or will blend in with all the other pens & note pads. Make an impact. This is the time for you to stand out & let your company name to be seen. A non-woven bag is perfect for these shows. Attendees will need something to store all the material they gathered & your logo will the travel the show floor with the person carrying it. Don't forget to add your booth number to the promotional custom products.

9. Outfit your trade show sales team with custom apparel. Not only will a customized promotional polo shirt make members of your team appear more approachable, it will also turn them into ambassadors for the brand wherever they are on the show floor, even if they aren't in the booth.  There are other options also like oxford shirts embroidered with your logo or imprinted aprons. The main thing is that whatever piece of clothing is imprinted, your sales team should wear it everyday while attending the show.

These 9 tips should help you start planning your next trade show exhibit, but they only scratch the surface. To be sure, trade show planning is a lengthy process & could require several months to prepare. Good luck!

Ronni Sherman

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