A Full Guide To Trade Shows

Many are familiar with the general ideas of a trade show: make connections, learn a thing or two, get out of the office. All of these are great things, but there are ways to maximize your average experience to truly make the event memorable and successful.

In this comprehensive trade show guide, I’ll be using my years of industry experience to take your next trade show to a whole new level. Whether it’s your first or 50th trade show, whether you’re exhibiting or attending, I guarantee there’s something useful for you. With everyone ready to get back into the game, there’s no better time than now to prepare yourself with this guide of helpful trade show tips and tricks.

Trade show tips before the show begins

Before you even step foot in the convention center, there are a couple of things you can do to get a leg up and put your best foot forward. Upon first walking into a trade show, you can very quickly feel overwhelmed. However, a little bit of effort beforehand will guarantee you’re confident and ready to hit the ground running.

Get Connected

Staying informed and up to date with event information is a good way to be prepared. Following the convention on social media and subscribing to their email list will ensure there are no surprises when you get there. Also, you’ll be the first to know about any special opportunities or updates.

Find a List of Attendees

Knowing what companies or people will be attending the show beforehand will let you prioritize the connections you’d like to make and get you in the best position to make them. Most trade shows will have a list of attendees available in advance. For those really important ones, connecting online and sending an introductory message is a good option.

Become Familiar With the Itinerary

Having a plan is everything. There is no way to watch every keynote speaker or visit every booth. This is where the trade show itinerary comes in. I suggest planning out each day of the convention in advance and making sure to highlight your top priorities so you don’t miss out. Without a plan, it’s easy to get lost in the show floor and waste valuable time. Becoming familiar with a map of the show floor will also help with navigating. Also planning or RSVPing for after-party events is also a good idea. Plan the whole day, nighttime included.

Make Sure You Have the Necessities

For each person, the necessities are a little different, but there are some basic ones for almost all trade shows. To be ready for a long day at a show, it’s important to have a small bag or backpack with things such as a phone charger, business cards, a notebook, and some hearty snacks for throughout the day. Also, you’re going to need a place to put all of the free stuff you’re bound to acquire. If you’re looking for a more in-depth checklist of absolutely everything you need to bring, check out our very own checklists here.

Airworthy trade show booth
Airworthy trade show booth

What do i wear to a trade show?

When it comes to your trade show outfit, there are two main things of importance: looking professional and being comfortable. Although these two sometimes don’t mesh well, there are ways to look great while also staying sane during a long day of walking around and talking with others. Do a bit of research before your convention to get a sense of how your industry will be dressing for the event since each one is different. Some will opt for more business casual while others are business formal, so it’s important to make sure you’re not sticking out in the crowd.

Since you’ll be making plenty of first impressions while you’re there, looking sharp and professional is critical. You should always prioritize that. But in my opinion, the one thing you must make sure is comfortable are your shoes. I recommended choosing a pair that is roomy and broken in, and would recommend investing in a good pair of insoles if there is not much cushion in them. Trust me, your feet will thank you.

Singing Machine trade show booth
Singing Machine trade show booth

If you’re representing your company at the trade show, branded clothing is a great way to create brand awareness and make a statement. To get custom branded clothing in any style, use the link here (contact page) to get in touch with one of our expert company brand managers. At Everything Tradeshows, we can create quality clothing items to your exact specifications that will set you apart.

Trade show tips for exhibitors

A successful trade show exhibit is an art. To bring in and capture attendees attention is no easy feat, especially for first-time exhibitors. However, doing the following things will put you on the right path to your desired results.

Velocity trade show booth
Velocity trade show booth

Set a Clear Course of Action

Your company has put in the time and money to invest in exhibiting in a trade show. Now what? Whichever team is responsible for marketing and attending the show needs to get together to clearly establish the purpose and goals of the trade show. Having everyone on the same page is step one to a successful trade show. Regular meetings and preparation within the company beforehand guarantee the trade show team is ready to go and knows what’s expected.

Create a Memorable Booth

This is perhaps the most important advice that I can give. On a show floor that’s likely thousands of feet long and hundreds of exhibitors, your exhibit needs to stick in visitors’ heads. No matter if you are working with the smallest or largest space, there’s plenty of things to keep in mind when figuring out your company’s booth.

Layout

You want a lot of open space in your booth for attendees to feel comfortable moving around and socializing. The booth should feel welcoming both in the decor and attitudes of the employees working it. Having comfortable seating or lounge space is a great draw to encourage tired attendees to relax and have a chat about your company. To catch people’s eyes, a backlit display can be used to display graphics. Try to be creative with your booth and create a truly unique and fun experience. Easier said than done, but the extra effort will be rewarded.

Giveaways and Promo

Let’s face it, people are going to expect free stuff. When planning promo, try to get creative and have a product that is useful, unique, and somewhat related to your company. Looking for ideas? Contact Everything Tradeshows and we’ll send you our popular promo catalog filled with the hottest trade show promotional products we have to offer.

Prepare Your Team

The employees working the trade show booth are going to be the face and brain of the company for the show. Because of this, you’re going to want the cream of the crop. Friendly, well-dressed, and knowledgeable are the type of people you should look to man operations at your convention. These people need to be able to answer any and all questions and sell the company to attendees. It’s crucial to work on elevator pitches and other training, as mentioned above. More than anything, standing at the front of your booth with a bright smile and a greeting is the easiest and best way to strike up a conversation. When interacting, make sure that your team is forming a relationship rather than selling. Forming a genuine connection is the best way to translate into doing business.

Learn From Popular Booths

There’s a reason the best exhibits at the show are the best! There’s no secret sauce or concoction, I promise. Especially for newer exhibitors, taking a stroll through the most popular booths is enlightening and can teach you some best practices for trade shows in your industry. Pay attention to everything from the people staffing the booth, the booth layout, and what the main draw is.

Follow Up on Leads and Connections

You’ve been to the show, followed the trade show tips, and were able to network and make some great connections. Now what? Not striking while the iron is hot is an easy way to miss out on business. The first week after a trade show is the perfect time to start sending those initial emails and getting to work fostering relationships. Don’t wait!

Dave's Bread trade show booth
Dave’s Bread trade show booth

If you need any assistance in your trade show process, Everything Tradeshows is here to help! With over twenty years in the industry, we have all of the tools to design, develop, and execute your ideal trade show booth while providing insider counseling. We proudly consider ourselves the one-stop shop for all your trade show needs! Our website is here.

If you would like even more detailed advice on exhibiting at a trade show, we have an in-depth article right here.

Skyservice trade show booth
Skyservice trade show booth

Trade show tips for visitors

Take Advantage of the Exhibitors

What’s great about trade shows is exhibitors want to talk to you and you want to talk to them! This open channel allows an attendee the chance to reap the many benefits exhibitors are happy to give. Whether it’s free stuff, raffles, etc, exhibitors are looking to please. Not only will you get free stuff, but you’ll meet great people. Visit as many booths as possible just to see, you never know what/who you’ll find!

Be a Good Listener

During your trade show, you’ll be talking, but more importantly, you’ll be listening. Throughout your time, you’ll be getting a lot of information about your industry, and the people and companies in it. Whether it be from keynote speakers, presentations, or exhibits, listening is key. Taking notes in any capacity and avoiding distractions can allow for active listening and better retention.

Represent Your Business

When attending a trade show, you’re likely there on behalf of your company. When you’re on the show floor, make sure you keep this in mind. While you’re learning about them, make sure they also learn about you. Have a business card or flyer on you that stands out from the rest with bright colors, nice finish, and cool features such as QR codes. Branded jackets and polos are also a great way to get your company visible and encourage conversation. Being social at these events is the biggest thing you can do at these events to establish relations with other companies.

Have Fun and Seize the Day!

Chances are you’re attending your convention in an exciting city for the weekend. As much as a trade show is for work, it’s also an exciting time out of the office. When it comes to these shows, I encourage work hard-play hard. While not at the convention, take some time to relax and enjoy the city you’re in! It’s also great to explore with new people you’ve met at the convention. Remember, trade shows are meant to be fun.

Want more tips for attending a trade show? We have an even more in-depth article for
you here.

21st Century Chemical trade show booth
21st Century Chemical trade show booth

Final remarks

I hope that with these tips for trade shows, you feel ready to have a successful trade show. We are just as excited as you are to get back to in-person conventions with real, meaningful interactions. No matter what industry or type of convention it is, these successful trade show tips will help! Good luck!

Need anything for your next trade show? Let’s work together! Contact Everything Tradeshows here for a free booth rendering!

Nautic On trade show booth
Nautic On trade show booth
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