The words of my wise, old dad keep ringing in my ears. Prior planning prevents piss poor performance. This rings true in regards to my first trade show experience as an exhibitor, which is also what prompted me to write down my top 5 prior planning tips to prepare for total trade show domination.
Prior planning tip #1: Start early. Think through all logistics of the show – reserving your space, what products or services you would like represented in the booth, how will it be shipped (do you have an internal logistics team? If yes, you are lucky!), where it will be shipped, how is it received, who will be setting up the booth. Make sure your shipping team doesn’t use a star bit on the crate, when on site all you can find is a Phillips drill bit. You get the idea. If you can, try to select your booth location strategically based on flow of traffic or other appealing areas (open bar?). Bring hand sanitizer, pens, scissors, markers and business cards.
Prior planning tip #2: Create purposeful booth design and layout. First impressions matter – design a booth with a deep understanding of the attendees and their needs in mind. Also ensure you are properly reflecting what differentiates your company from your competitors to the masses.
Prior planning tip #3: Spread the word! Market before, during and after the show – create messaging about why anyone should visit your booth. Determine “why” people may attend this event and what solution you could provide them. Market this message before the show (hey, we’ll be there if you want to chat in person or see our products in the flesh!), during the show (hey, look at our booth. We’re really the most fun people at the show and you should come see us so we can help provide you with solutions), and after the show (hey, it was great meeting you, here are some more ideas to take your brand to the next level).
Prior planning tip #4: Decide who goes and who stays. Select the correct people to attend the show (Subject Matter Expert? Social Butterfly? Seasoned in Sales?) and prep them on messaging. Those without prior experience may tend to start a conversation by asking strangers for marriage immediately, instead of asking them for coffee. This can come off as a bit creepy. A better approach is to ask the person what brought them to the show and where they are from, just to ease into it a little bit.
Prior planning tip #5: Create a memorable experience. Plan to have a valuable, interactive giveaway instead of junk that has to be hauled around – like a cornhole board – that can be customized and shipped directly to the winner at a later date. This could also be useful after the show when you’re waiting two hours for your crate to pack up your booth!