How To Set Up a Successful Trade Show Booth

People are scattered around a variety of booths

A successful trade show booth requires a variety of factors including organization, creativity, and effort. Most business-to-business organizations measure success in leads or return on investment (ROI) that directly correlates with the trade show. A trade show can be an investment within itself, so it becomes increasingly important to know what to include, and what to avoid.

What To Do Before the Trade Show

There are things to consider and plan prior to a trade show. The planning process should not be a last-minute event; it should be methodical and well thought out. Your booth has to compete with an array of others, so if you put minimal effort into planning beforehand, there is a chance you will see negative effects from doing so. Before the show, create a tradeshow checklist of things to bring as well as specific factors to consider.

Make Your Booth Stand Out

Many salesmen and marketing experts use the three-second rule approach to getting customers to take action. The rule focuses on how the limited amount of time available to effectively capture a visitor’s attention. Subsequently, you need to make your booth — and in turn, your product or service — stand out. In most trade shows, you will be up against a variety of companies that are in direct competition with you and your product or service. Check out trade show trends to make your booth stand out. Some common ways to make your booth stand out are:

  • Offer experiences: Buyers usually want to avoid being sold something — instead, offer them a fun, engaging opportunity to learn about your product or service
  • Bright color scheme: Bright, well-coordinated colors grab attention in a room that is full of similar booths
  • Technology: The expansion of technology has made its impact in every realm That said, using technology to promote a product or service becomes crucial
  • Human touch: The human touch in customer service creates an individualized, personalized buying experience that is desired by the majority of consumers
  • Live product demonstration: Sometimes the only thing holding your booth back from competing with others stems from confusion with your product or service. Offer live product demonstrations that highlight your product or services features

Your booth is also just one part of your presence at a trade show. You can make your people — the human representatives on the ground making connections — stand out as well. For starters, they will all need easy access to their ID and/or admission slip to move in, out, and around the trade show location. Create some uniformity by ensuring the whole team has badge holders with them.

Uniformity can also be taken literally: dress the team in matching attire. You can go business casual and come up with a matching color scheme, or get into the spirit or theme of the event with more elaborate apparel that matches the name, spirit, or logo of your brand.

Create Buzz with Promotional Giveaways

There are very few methods to grab the attention of an individual that works better than giving something(s) away. The sky’s the limit for trade show giveaways. This can be as simple as creating custom pens, or as large as a big raffle that customers are entered into if they purchase a product.

Take a look internally at your product or services demographics to determine what should be given away. There is a variety of customizable promotional products to offer to all demographics. If your market tends to include younger generations, offer things like RFID blocking cardholders. Promotional products not only act as useful freebies to consumers, but they also act as inexpensive advertising depending on the product.

Host Games, Surveys, or Quizzes

Another way to create buzz and grab the attention of those who pass by a trade booth is to host games, surveys, or quizzes. Engaging potential customers through some sort of interactive questionnaire or game adds a personalized, human touch while also giving the chance to get insight into a potential customer. Use custom trade show displays to entice passersby with games and fun prizes. It gives you the chance to have a conversation in a fun, light-hearted manner.

Plan Your Booth Graphics

Making sure your booth catches attention should also involve aesthetics. You want to include a universal graphic that is placed strategically throughout your booth. This can be as traditional as custom table covers, or niche-specific as giving away convention totes. You won’t get to talk to everyone, so a good practice is to look at your booth and ask yourself “If I were a customer, would I know what this booth is if I were to walk by?”

Build a Team

The effectiveness of your trade booth depends almost entirely on your team. Team members must be able to engage with potential customers while being approachable. Common qualities of good sales teams include:

  • Industry experience
  • Extroverts
  • Approachable demeanor
  • Professional appearance
  • Stamina

The team should have an overseer that educates all team members, organizes meetings, and explains pay. Team members should be given the resources to successfully sell a product or service long before the actual trade show. It also bears repeating: make sure your team comes equipped with lanyards so they can keep IDs, access badges, or other documentation/passes for the trade show on their person at all times.

Promote Through Social Media

The importance of social media has never been more apparent. Promotion is vital to the success of events. Social media should be utilized surrounding trade shows in three ways:

  1. Prior to the show: If you want a large group of people to attend an event (especially those that follow your company regularly) they need to be aware of the show. Common ways to do this are to create Facebook events, or to send out a mass email that includes specific event details.
  2. During the show: While the show is happening, use social media to promote giveaways, to share pictures of the booth, and to show people where you are located.
  3. After the show: Encourage those who purchase your products to leave a review on Facebook or Google. Word of mouth and reviews are crucial. According to BrightLocal “the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business.” Promoting via social media can be as simple as asking consumers to make a post for a promotional item.

What to Remember the Day of the Show

After you have taken the time to plan what your booth will entail, the day of the show requires different needs surrounding the effectiveness of the show. There are two main factors to consider for the day-of. These include:

  • Feeding Your Booth Staff: If you want your booth staff to perform at peak levels, they need to be adequately nourished. This should include keeping your staff fed, as well as hydrated. Feeding your booth staff will ensure that you appreciate their hard work and that it won’t go unnoticed. Having water bottles at trade shows is great for both employers and customers.
  • Keeping Track of Information: While sales are made at a trade show, there are also sales that come through residually. Compile an email list of names and save them for re-contact at a later date.

What To Do After the Show

The ultimate goal of trade shows is to gain ROI. The day — or days — following the trade show are often considered the most critical in this respect. The following tips are effective practices to implement after a trade show:

  • Organize prospects: Take all of the names, numbers, and emails and compile them into your database or call list
  • Call top leads: Top leads should be reached out to immediately. If someone gives you their number, a good rule of thumb is to reach out as soon as possible
  • Email your leads: Many leads will give an email, but not a phone number. Reach out to these leads via email within a week for a non-confrontational, low-pressure chance to keep the conversation going
  • Connect via social media: Using social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn is great for reaching out to leads
  • Ask for feedback: If you are unaware of what parts of your trade booth are effective, and which aren’t then nothing will change; ask for feedback
  • Create content: If there were commonly asked questions, write content (such as a blog post) to address and clear up any confusion
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