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Exhibition Excellence: 6 Strategies for a Successful Trade Show Experience

by Olufisayo
Strategies for a Successful Trade Show

Trade shows offer an incredible opportunity to connect with prospects, showcase your products and services, study your competitors, and generate leads.

However, exhibiting requires a substantial investment of time, effort, and money. The best way to maximize your return is through strategic preparation and execution. Follow these six strategies for trade show success:

1.  Offer Promotional Merchandise for Trade Shows

Give attendees a reason to stop and interact by offering promotional merchandise for trade shows. This could include branded swag items like t-shirts, drinkware, tech accessories, gift sets, and more.

People love free giveaways, especially if the items are something they’d actually use regularly. Make sure to pick promotional merchandise that’s closely aligned with your brand and industry, while still appealing to your audience.

2.  Set Measurable Goals

Before signing up as an exhibitor, take a step back and get specific about what you want to accomplish.

What are your goals? Maybe it’s capturing a certain number of hot sales leads or pre-scheduled meetings with prospective buyers. Or host in-booth product demos in hopes of walking away with X dollars of onsite sales.

Whatever it is, make sure your target is concrete and quantifiable. You need measurable KPIs to determine if that pricey exhibiting investment pays off post-show.

3.  Engage Customers Pre-Show

Well in advance of the trade show, start promoting and generating buzz that you’ll be exhibiting. Let your current customer base know you’ll have a presence at the show through personal email invitations and your regular email marketing channels.

Encourage them to stop by your booth with some teasers or sneak peeks at what you’ll be showcasing. Post about your upcoming exhibitor status across social media platforms with visuals like booth renderings, presenter details, or product previews.

4.  Optimize Your Booth Design

Your exhibitor booth setup has a huge impact on your success at trade shows. You want an exhibit design optimized to comfortably accommodate attendee traffic flow while also commanding attention from across the show floor.

Work with a professional booth designer if needed, to create a clean, impactful layout featuring your branding elements like logo, tagline, hero imagery, and core brand messaging.

5.  Select the Right Shows

Not every industry trade show is going to be a worthwhile opportunity for your business. You need to carefully assess which events are a strategic fit before signing up. Do your research on the kinds of companies and professionals that typically attend and exhibit.

Check out past stats on overall attendance size, geographic attendee dispersion, and general feedback from prior exhibitors, and consider the potential cost-per-lead based on anticipated draws.

Make sure the show’s programming like speaker sessions and networking events aligns with your own goals. Selecting the right shows for your offerings can help increase your chances of success.

6.  Capture and Follow Up Promptly

Exhibiting at trade shows is futile without diligently capturing prospect contact details. You want to have a dedicated process for either using badge scanning/lead retrieval services or manually collecting business cards and entering that data into your CRM or marketing automation systems.

Assign someone on your team for each show day to focus solely on this critical data capture task. Then, get those personalized email follow-up sequences ready to go so you’re not scrambling post-show.

From Trade Show to Real Business Results

The most successful exhibitors don’t just wing it at trade shows hoping for the best. They follow intentional strategies throughout the planning, execution, and follow-up phases to maximize their investments in exhibiting.

Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

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