How To Prepare For Your First Trade Show

NBAA 2021

💡 In this guide, you will learn how to prepare for your first trade show.

Trade shows are a great way to connect with ideal clients and customers. Networking at trade shows is relevant to any business in the service industry, whether you are a construction company or a landscaping company. There are hundreds of trade shows held each year, but the one you choose will be dependent upon your industry and the stage of your business.

To provide the best experience for your target customer, you need to plan appropriately going into any show. The amount of preparation required depends on how your company will showcase themselves, what type of show they are attending and what they hope to gain from attending this specific event.

❗ Check and learn how to plan a trade show

Exhibiting at a trade show does not have to be expensive, and the benefits can be substantial. Once you know what you are doing, you can do it again and again with each of your new product releases or whenever you want to gain more exposure for your company. In this article, you will learn some tips for your first trade show. You will also read a lot of information that should help you on how to handle all aspects of trade show preparation.

Charlis Exhibit at the Truth About Cancer Event in Nashville
Charlis Exhibit at the Truth About Cancer Event in Nashville

Tips for Your First Trade Show 

Tip 1: Prepare For Your First Trade Show Ahead of Time. 

Investing time in trade show preparation is vital since if things go wrong during the event, your company will be negatively impacted and potential clients may not attend. Of course, you never know exactly what kind of problems might arise. Maybe there is traffic getting to the venue or a minor electrical issue, but it will be much easier to address if you have thought about worst-case scenarios beforehand.

Here is a list of the basic elements involved in participating in a trade show.

  • Description of your company. It would help if you had a mission statement, a vision statement, and a clear description of your business. Your booth personnel must be able to share this information with people who ask about your company.
  • Product/service description. You need to provide a detailed description of your products/services and how they differ from other goods or services being offered at the event. This information should be available in writing for anyone to pick up and read at your booth. It should also be available online, if possible.
  • Lines of communication open before, during and after the event. The best way to communicate with potential customers is by having someone physically present at the booth with a list of questions and items to note. Also, arrange for someone to take messages or update your website if the event is expected to generate a lot of traffic or inquiries about your products/services.

❗ Check our guide on how to make your trade show booth stand out

Tip 2: Create a game plan. 

It’s important to know what you want out of a trade show before you sign up to participate. Do you want leads? Sales? To add value to your existing business or build visibility for your brand? By mapping out your goals in advance, you will be better able to justify the cost of exhibiting at the event, both to yourself and in conversations with upper management.

Tip 3: Do Research For Your First Trade Show Ahead of Time. 

Before you head out the door for your first trade show preparation, send out some feelers about the show. For example, is there a specific niche you are targeting or types of customers you want to meet? Then, go online and look up some of your competitors and see what they have to say about the show experience. If you know exactly who you are looking for, you’ll be able to talk to them more easily.

❗ Don’t miss our complete trade show checklist.

Tip 4: Get familiar with the event’s flow.

See if you can find a schedule for the event online — it’s usually available on the website. Then, look over the program and get familiar with how people flow through the event. For example, are booths grouped by product category? How many people visit a booth per hour? These little details can help you make more of an impact at your booth and get more value from your time at the event.

❗ Here is our guide on how to build a trade show booth.

Tip 5: Start promoting your business once you have decided what you would like to offer at the show. 

Take pictures of your products on-site and upload them online. Nowadays, many people want to know what your company looks like online before visiting a trade show booth. Uploading pictures of your products on display will help potential clients see what they can expect from you in person.

Having photographs online is an easy way to give them what they want without spending time doing it while they are there at the show. Post on social media sites, start an email campaign, send out postcards – whatever works best for your business.

Title Brothers Mana Wynwood Real Estate Show 2021
Title Brothers Mana Wynwood Real Estate Show 2021

Tip 6: Set your budget.

The next step is to work out how much money you are willing to spend on the exhibition. This is one of those “it depends” questions because the cost of exhibiting varies widely from industry to industry and even from show to show. An expensive booth might be worth it if it leads directly to lots of sales, but most exhibitors don’t want or need that kind of investment (and neither do most brands). Do some research on comparable exhibitions and use this as a basis for estimating how much you can afford.

❗ Make sure to check our article on how to have a successful trade booth.

Tip 7: Choose the right time and location. 

Find out when and where the trade show preparation will be held and the types of companies that will be there. If you are starting, you may want to attend an industry-specific trade show that is geared toward small businesses like yours rather than a large consumer convention that may be filled with larger companies with more resources than you have available to promote themselves. The main point is to choose one best suited for your business and budget so you can get the most out of the experience.

Tip 8: Map out your booth

It is crucial to have a comfortable booth and make your visitors feel at ease. First impressions are essential for trade show expectations. You want your visitors to feel comfortable when they first walk into the booth. This will help create the right image of your company and the product or service you are selling.

We recommend having a lounge area in addition to just standing in the booth all day. The lounge area should have a seating area, perhaps a small table and chairs, and maybe even an area with pillows or blankets on the floor for people to relax on. This is where you can get one-on-one time with clients, prospects, or partners.

Even if it’s just in your head or on paper, decide what you want your booth to look like before you get there. Ensure you have enough space for everything and that you aren’t over-stuffing the booth.

❗ Don’t miss our trade show booth design tips

Here are some Tips for Your First Trade Show for creating the perfect booth display 

Be easy to find – Don’t hide your display away from the crowd; make sure it’s easy for people to locate you. Avoid noisy or crowded booths and those located at the end of aisles or facing a wall. Make sure your signage directs people towards your display without walking around other booths.

Be eye-catching – A good display needs to be interesting enough so that it catches people’s attention. Include photos or graphics that highlight your products and services. If possible, include information about how customers can reach you (e-mail address, website URL, and phone number).

Tervis SLATS NFL Vegas
Tervis SLATS NFL Vegas

Why exhibit at a trade show? Check our guide to learn the reasons why. 

Have the right team.

Who’s going? Make sure you know every member of your team attending the trade show, this helps in fulfilling trade show expectations. This includes primary contacts and anyone else involved in company representation and sales activities. All should have their business cards and be stocked up on promotional materials like brochures and flyers.

What are they going to do? Before the team even arrives at the show, they need to know what’s expected of them once there. What are they selling? What are their goals? It would be best if you had a clear-cut plan in place, or else you will waste valuable time wandering trying to figure out what to do next.

Get there early.

Get there early. Your booth will be allocated a specific space in the trade show hall. If you don’t get there in time to set up your booth, you won’t have a space to display your products or services. Do not let anything hold you up on the way in — traffic, train stations, or even a flat tire. If you are driving with many product samples or an elaborate display, make sure you take any necessary precautions to keep them safe during transport and installation.

❗ Check our list of trade show exhibitor tips

Set up an organizational chart.

Make sure everyone involved knows their role and what they need to accomplish before, during, and after the show. This includes booth staff, sales reps, service providers (e.g., electricians), transportation providers, and anyone else involved with the event. The more organized you are, the smoother things will go when it comes time for the actual event.

Have something to give away (and no, it doesn’t need to be a pen). 

People love free stuff, especially when it’s related to their business and industry – from branded pens and t-shirts that reveal your company’s mission statement via USB sticks and water bottles filled with branded liquid.

Have An Emergency Kit Ready For Dealing With Any Last Minute Problems.

This will include extra pens and paper for when you run out at the show. Tape to fix your stand if it comes apart at The show, and more.

Prepare for long days. 

A trade show can last several days — sometimes as many as four or five — so pack extra snacks for yourself and your team members, in case you need them after lunchtime has passed

Have Business Cards Ready.

The first thing that should be on your list is business cards. You will have a lot of people walking by your booth, and you will want them to remember who you are and what you do. So bring 200-300 business cards, depending on how ample your space will be. People may walk by several times, so when they come back, they will already have your information in hand and can ask all the questions that they couldn’t remember the first time around.

Schedule follow-up calls.

After the day of the trade show, make quick follow-ups with those who visited your booth. Make sure that you send an e-mail or make a call before sending out any promotional emails or newsletters for your products or services because it will make them feel valued and important as customers.

Exhibiting at a trade show can be a great way to introduce yourself to new clients and learn about the latest design trends in your industry. Before putting up your booth, make sure that you have all the equipment, trade show displays, and signage you will need to make a lasting impression. 

❗ Don’t miss our trade show giveaway ideas.

Essential Tips for Your First Trade Show 

By doing your research, staying organized, and preparing yourself for any event, emergencies, or mishaps, you will be sure to have an exciting and productive experience at your first trade show preparations.  Hopefully, these sixteen tips for your first trade show will help you keep your cool and focus on how your business will benefit, rather than wasting valuable time worrying about trade show blues.

❗ Check our trade show guide

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