Tips For a Successful Trade Show

Making Your Trade Show Display Stand Out

Welcoming the Visitors To Your Booth. Image (c) George Doyle / Getty Images

As small business owners, especially those in the start-up phase, preparing for a trade show can be a very scary and frustrating time. What do we take for our trade show display and how do we present it?

You first need to find out the specifics of the trade show you are registered for or considering exhibiting in. If necessary, contact the organizers of the event and get details on the type of visitors that the show attracts and the layout of the area you will have to display your business.

Be sure to find out the size of the trade show display table you will have, whether there is wall space for your company sign, if there are electrical outlets available, and anything else that may or may not be included (i.e. a table cloth, etc.). For more information about preparing in advance for trade shows see Before You Attend That Trade Show.

Once the show space specifics have been established, then you can move on to deciding what to take and how you can ‘show your stuff’. The following are just a few ideas to help you get ready for that all important trade show. (Note: most of these trade show display ideas are based on being in the service industry but will work for products industry companies as well.)

Make Your Display Table Stand Out

If the trade show display table you have does not include a tablecloth, be sure to get one that complements your display and represents your company’s image and colour scheme (without being overpowering).

Even if a tablecloth is supplied, bring your own or something to add some depth to your table (i.e. a table runner). Your table will definitely stand out in a crowd.

Use a Presentation Board

If your trade show display space will allow, erect a stand-alone presentation board. On the board, you can show how clients can benefit by using your services.

Be creative and make it stand out. Include pictures, if possible, and be sure your company name and logo are more than obvious.

Create a Template of Your Company Name

See How to Create an Effective Trade Show Display for tips on creating effective trade show graphics. If there is wall space, but your budget is minimal, use your trusty desktop publishing software to create a template of your company name. Use the template, along with bristle board, cardboard, or foam core to make a sign that you can put up on the wall behind your trade show display.

Arrange Your Display Table Properly

Arrange your trade show display table in levels. Put the larger items at the rear, shorter items in front of those, and even shorter items in front of those.

Use Video or Slide Shows to Draw Attention

Develop a video or slide show presentation to display on TV monitors in your booth. There are various stands and racks available for mounting flat screens for trade shows. You can rent or borrow this equipment if  you don’t already have it. Your visitors will find this visually appealing and it will draw in their attention.

Promote Your Booth on Social Media

Use social media to let your customers know that you are participating in a trade show and invite them to stop by and visit.

If you are not using social media already see How to Create a Social Media Plan, How to Create a Fan Page on Facebook and How to Promote your Business on Twitter.

Have Plenty of Giveaways

Have plenty of trade show giveaways, such as business cards, brochures, pens, magnets, and anything else that has your company name and/or logo on it. See Why Use Business Cards and Make a Business Card a Marketing Vehicle.

Most people who attend trade shows are expecting to take home some goodies. And be sure to use display racks for showing your flyers, specials, brochures, and such. See also 7 Deadly Mistakes When Purchasing Promotional Items for Trade Shows.

Food Goodies are Always a Big Hit

Offer something a little different as a trade show giveaway… FOOD. I displayed at the "Bridges to Better Business" trade show in Brampton and included a basket of Girl Guide cookies on my table.

They were a big hit; I wish I had brought more. If you can, package your food in a way that will allow you to have your company contact information on it.

Offer Gift Certificates

Offer Gift Certificates for some of your services as a trade show giveaway. There’s nothing better than getting a deal and when they ‘cash in’ their certificate, they will see how valuable your services are and will come back for more.

Have a Draw Prize

Have a draw for a prize. Offer a prize that in some way complements your business if possible, and appeals to anyone. Have visitors and entrants sign a guestbook, fill in a ticket, or drop their business cards into a fish bowl or gift bag. The great thing about this trade show giveaway is that you can then use this information at a later date to make a follow-up contact.

Show Off Your Work

Have a portfolio of your work available as part of your trade show display. Print off some of your best projects, put them into plastic sheet protectors, and arrange them in a binder. Then lay out the binder where visitors can flip through the pages.

Have an Assistant

If the trade show will be on for an extended length of time, be sure to have assistance in manning your trade show booth so you can take a break. If you don’t have the option of having someone take over for a bit, be sure to put up a note that tells people how long you will be gone or when you will be back.

Welcome Your Visitors

Most importantly, be friendly and inviting. Say "Hi" to those that turn and look toward you or your trade show booth. Strike up a conversation and be sure to have a short introductory speech ready. And… have fun!