7 Trade Show Tips for New Businesses Trade shows can be costly, but they are a great way to network and market your product.

By Roxanne Klein

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Trade shows are excellent opportunities for businesses to showcase their products or services, network with potential clients and stay current on industry trends. However, standing out is essential with so many companies competing for attention.

Here are seven tips for businesses exhibiting at a trade show to make the most of their experience.

1. Set goals and plan ahead

Before the trade show, setting goals and creating a plan for achieving them is essential. First, determine what you hope to accomplish, such as generating leads or introducing a new product. Then, map out how to achieve those goals, including promotional materials, staffing and follow-up procedures.

Related: Are Trade Shows Still Worth Attending for Independent Product Developers?

2. Create a memorable display

Your exhibit should be visually appealing and designed to draw in attendees. A professional-looking display with bright colors, high-quality graphics and clear messaging will attract attention and make a lasting impression.

In addition, consider incorporating interactive elements like product demonstrations or games to engage visitors and make your booth stand out.

3. Staff your booth with engaging representatives

Your representatives are the face of your business at the trade show. Choosing engaging, personable people who can effectively communicate your message is vital. Train your staff to engage attendees, answer questions, and effectively promote your products or services. Encourage them to be friendly, approachable and enthusiastic. It is also critical that you advise them not to socialize with themselves. I often see booth staff talking amongst themselves rather than trying to engage potential customers.

4. Offer giveaways and promotions

Everyone loves a freebie, and giveaways are an excellent way to draw attention to your booth. Offer branded promotional items, such as pens, keychains or tote bags, that attendees can take home with them. When buying promotional products, keep in mind weight and size. Often attendees want to avoid carrying heavy or oversized items during the show. Also, if you are shipping your booth, you must pay to ship your items. The heavier and larger the items you pick to give away, the more it will cost you to get them to your booth.

Additionally, running a contest, offering a discount to those visiting your booth, or signing up for your email list is practical. Make sure everyone at your booth knows about your show special, and make sure they know it will end when the show ends.

5. Be prepared with information and collateral

Ensure your booth has informational materials, including brochures, business cards, and product samples. Attendees should be able to access information about your business and products easily. Consider offering digital collateral, such as a video presentation or an online catalog, that attendees can access on their own devices.

Related: Unlike Many Things That Are a Lot of Work, Trade Shows Are Worth It

6. Network with other exhibitors

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to network with other businesses in your industry. Attend networking events, stop by other booths in the exhibit hall and engage with other exhibitors to learn about new products or services, share ideas, and make connections. You never know when a strategic partnership or collaboration may arise from a chance meeting.

7. Leads and follow-up

One of the most critical aspects of the trade show is to fine-tune who the decision-makers are. Often you will have several people stopping by your booth from the same company. Of course, you will want to be friendly to all of them, but it is imperative to find out who the key person is that has the authority to buy your product or service. I find the easiest way to do that is to ask. If the person you ask tells you they are not the decision maker, you must ask who is. Get the person's card in front of you, and write down the decision maker's name on the card. Also, ask if they can provide the decision maker's email and phone number.

After the trade show, follow up with any leads you generate. Send personalized emails or make phone calls to thank attendees for visiting your booth, offer additional information, or schedule a follow-up meeting. Connecting on LinkedIn with the new contacts you made at the trade show can be helpful in the long run for building your business. Be sure to track your leads and measure your ROI to evaluate the success of your trade show participation.

Exhibiting at a trade show is a valuable opportunity for businesses to showcase their products or services, network with potential clients and stay up to date on industry trends. By setting goals, creating an impressive display, staffing with engaging representatives, offering giveaways and promotions, being prepared with information and collateral, networking with other exhibitors, and following up with leads, businesses can make the most of their trade show experience and achieve their marketing objectives.

Remember that trade shows can be costly, and new businesses need to research before exhibiting. Therefore, before exhibiting at a trade show, you can see if it is possible to attend as an attendee. This way, you can get an idea of how busy the trade show is and get a sense of who attends.

Wavy Line
Roxanne Klein

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Retail Commercial Real Estate Broker

Roxy Klein is focused on the leasing and sale of retail commercial properties in Southern California's Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley regions. Her expertise includes leasing, sales, & landlord / tenant representation. Roxy's performance on Crexi puts her in the top 1% of all users.

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