5 Tips for An Effective Trade Show Presence

Trade shows and conventions can be an excellent way of generating leads and other opportunities for business growth. However, just showing up isn’t enough. If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you are familiar with the vast sea of booths and displays. How do you ensure that your time and money invested in a trade show presence actually pay off in a full sales pipeline? The following 5 tips should help.

Visibility and Aesthetics

It’s no secret that first impressions are critical. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to put an effort into the design of your booth so that visitors will be drawn to stop by and at least inquire about what you are offering.

The goal is to make your space eye catching yet comfortable and functional. Invest in high quality graphics for banners and posters or any other display materials.  You want to show off your product or service in the best light, and it’s definitely worth hiring a professional to assist you with the production of your various booth materials.

Provide ample room for moving about. What’s the point of driving traffic to your booth if visitors have no room to move about and browse what you have to offer? Additionally, if you have the space, try incorporating a seating area in your booth. Trade show goers are constantly walking about, so providing them with a place to sit and rest their feet is incredibly valuable, and it provides you added opportunity to present them with brochures or other marketing materials, or take a moment to speak with them about your business.

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Be Attentive and Approachable

Sitting or standing at the back of your booth is definitely NOT the way to attract people to come visit you. This may be a no-brainer, but it also can be a daunting experience to put yourself out there and draw a crowd by greeting people as they walk by (especially if you are an introvert). But, the payoff for some momentary discomfort will be worth it, because you will GREATLY improve your opportunities for generating leads.

If you have a sales staff, make sure that there are always enough of them to handle the traffic to your booth. Have flyers, brochures, business cards and any other marketing collateral readily available for visitors to self-serve in the case that you or your sales staff are engaged with other trade show goers.

Don’t Lead with Your Sales Pitch

A big part of generating sales leads is relationship building, so don’t lead with your sales pitch. Customers are increasingly wary of being sold to, so you need to establish trust before introducing your product or service. Take the time to learn about your customer and his/her pain points and demonstrate that you genuinely care about providing a solution for them. Doing so will establish trust, which will allow them to feel comfortable providing contact info such as an email address which you can then drop into a sales nurture.

Not only will learning about your visitors’ needs develop trust, but it will also provide valuable information to you about what your audience is actually looking for. This feedback is critical for driving product or service development that your market actually wants. What’s the point of selling if what you offer isn’t what your target market wants to buy?

Promote Your Expertise

You always want to send your visitors away with something to keep you top of mind, but go beyond the standard promo materials. Visitors will get more value out of something that demonstrates that you are an authority on your industry. Try a white paper on the state of your industry, or a top 10 list of some sort to send your visitors away with. This will ensure you make a much more impactful, lasting impression than giving away a branded pen or lanyard.

Provide a Call to Action and Have a Follow Up Plan

Chances are, you won’t make many actual sales at a trade show, depending on what your line of business is. Trade shows are really more about brand awareness. So, it’s critical to provide visitors with an action to take, and have a plan for nurturing them to eventually invest in your product and services down the road.

A promotion or special may be an effective way to capture contact information, such as a free 30 minute consultation, or a discount on your product. Make it easy for customers to provide this information to you, such as having a kiosk where they can enter their email address.

When the trade show is over, you want to have a follow up plan for continuing to engage and guide them on the path of converting to a paying customer. This could be dropping them into an email sequence, or having your sales team follow up personally with each lead. Whatever it is, be sure to have a plan to keep them engaged long after the trade show ends.

No matter what type of product or service you offer, or what trade show you attend, being prepared is key. Not only will you make a great impression for visitors, but you’ll also feel much more confident when engaging with them. Failing to plan equals planning to fail, so invest time and resources into following the above tips, and your opportunities for success will greatly increase!