Nailed It! 5 Tips for Maximizing Your Trade Show Presence

If you’ve got trade shows on your company docket this year, then you know what a big decision it was to participate. Trade shows are great for exposure, but they can be labor-intensive – and expensive.

So of course, you want every bit of your precious investment to count. Here are five effective ways to make a great impression and your next trade show.

1. Be approachable and adaptable

Seems obvious, right?  But it’s surprising how often a company will invest big bucks in a state-of-the-art trade show booth, only to staff it with people who couldn’t care less.  Aside from smiling and making eye contact, try to have a variety of materials to appeal to different types of people. Some of us are tactile – we want a printed handout we can pick up and read or take with us. Others are visual – we want a video demo on a large screen. Others still want to be a part of the experience, watching and interacting with that same video demo on a tablet. No matter what, make sure your booth is staffed with welcoming, knowledgeable people who love to ask and answer questions.

2. Give out sweet swag

Photo: SmashhitMedia

When it comes to trade shows, promotional items really do count. Pretty much every booth will have some sort of giveaway, so your challenge is to make it memorable. It doesn’t have to be be a high ticket item – often times, the best swag is simply an expression of a clever idea. Some of the best giveaways we’ve seen are the ones where the company’s value proposition is tied in with the merchandise. Small tins of breath mints from an online dating company, a branded leash from a pet company and good-quality earbuds from a music streaming service are all great examples.

3. Provide some refreshment

… And we don’t mean the food and beverage kind, although that’s never a bad idea. We mean: give them some eye candy; something to lift their spirits. Trade shows can be monotonous and exhausting – you can see it as attendees start to wilt under the fluorescent lights, noncommittally looking down each aisle for something that looks worth their while. A great way to bring new energy into this kind of “unnatural” space is to use something that’s actually alive – like fresh flowers, live trees and plants. Its a breath of fresh air… literally.

trade show succulents
photo: Evergreen Interiors

4. Be interactive

Which booth you you rather visit? The one where you step into a simulated wind tunnel and try to catch as many dollar bills as you can in one minute – or the one where you’re greeted with a lifeless stack of brochures and business cards?  The “wind tunnel dollar game” was executed by a local bank at a recent trade show we attended, and their booth had the most engagement by a long shot. People just want to participate, and in this case, it was more for the fun of it than it was for the money. The dollars people collected were traded in for swag in the end anyway, but the game was the buzz of the event.

5. Stay smart and social

In our hashtag world, being “of the moment” is the best social media strategy you can have. So while you’ve done a great job promoting to get people to your shows, nothing builds engagement like tweeting, tagging and posting while you’re there. This is especially effective when you can leverage social media to get your audience to participate with you, perhaps for a chance to win something great in the end.

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