Are you ready for your next trade show? You may be surprised that pulling off a successful booth isn’t as easy as it looks. Here’s 13 things you might not know about trade shows – but should.
#1: You’re Actually Expected to Work.
Depending on how many helpers you have, you could be doing most of the work yourself. You may fancy yourself a salesperson and a people-person, but you also have to be a builder, designer, manager, and custodial crew all rolled into one.
#2: Travel Gets Old Fast.
Jetting to some exotic hotel event center sounds like a nice break from the standard office routine, but you might start longing for home when you have back-to-back shows around the country. Pack a travel pillow and a few good books so you can enjoy your downtime on the plane – it may be all you get for awhile!
#3: Watch Out for Fair-Weather “Helpers.”
You may find yourself with a lot of volunteers willing to help you when the next trade show is in sunny Orlando, but the don’t expect many volunteers for shows in the flyover states. Even if you do get helpers, they may be more interested in the hotel pool than in the newest company display boards.
#4: That Budget Isn’t as Big as You Think.
Before you start plotting those display upgrades, keep in mind even a large budget is going to disappear quickly. Better to spend it on promotional items first, and then buy the fun stuff.
#5: The Longest Distance Between Point A and Point B is between your booth and the Entrance.
To make matters worse, drayage costs have doubled over the years, so some of your budget will just go toward having your display moved. If you luck out, you won’t have to use the drayage provided and can make due with your own dollies and carts.
#6: You’re More Shy Than You Thought.
If it’s your first show, you may be surprised that it’s hard to be as outgoing as it is at your home store. The reason is simple – people are often talking and visiting as they walk through a trade show. At first, it seems almost rude to interrupt them. Put this fear behind you and begin approaching all those potential customers.
#7: Standing On Tradition Isn’t Always Worthwhile.
If you just took over your company’s trade show list, you may be shocked to find out a few of them never seem to bring in much new business. Don’t be afraid to research new shows and recommend show circuit changes. It may breath new life into your leads.
#8: Always Take More Than You Need.
This goes for everything – promotional materials, brochures, pens, paper towels. If you can run out of it, you will. Having extra just means you won’t need to purchase as much for the next show.
#9: Don’t Forget Plan B.
Always have a backup plan. If your demo model breaks, you better have a new one waiting in the wings. If your number is misprinted on the brochures, you better be ready with blank labels to cover it up. Plan for everything, and be prepared to recover on the fly.
#10: Gimmicks Get Leads.
You may think no one ever signs up for drawings or contests, but you’d be surprised how many leads these most basic of gimmicks can generate. Be creative, come up with something new that really makes your company stand out.
#11: Mind the Staff.
You probably know to train your staff fully on the product. They probably know to be polite. The problem happens when they talk to the cute girl at the booth next door while potential customers stalk off frustrated.
#12: Watch for Common Missteps – after the show.
The shows over and your display survived the thousands of people that tramped through it everyday. Don’t rest yet! Most damage happens after the show. It’s easy to break something when you’re rushing through your display break-down so you can get home.
#13: Don’t Forget to Follow Up!
A successful show isn’t measured by how many leads you got, but by how many leads you can close. Don’t forget to contact all your leads, preferably within two weeks of the show.