Things I wish I knew before my first trade show!


If you’re reading this article, you’ve more than likely been to your fair share of trade shows. You’ve got the networking part down. You’ve watched the speakers. You’ve seen so many booths that it’s hard to remember more than a few. Now, your company has assigned you the task of coordinating a trade show exhibit at an upcoming show. With all of your experience as a trade show attendee, you may be thinking to yourself, “I got this!”–and you very well may…But for a trade show rookie, here are some topics I encourage you to consider as you take one small step for your company and one giant leap for your career.

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Before you do anything else, create a list of goals you want to achieve at this show. It will be impossible for you to measure your success if you don’t create a benchmark before hand. For example, know your budget and create a plan to stick to it. Know how many leads or sales you want to close the show with and know how you plan to accomplish this. Design your booth at the office and then actually construct it if possible. You’d be surprised how many components of a booth work on paper but fail in real life. These three categories of pre-show planning (Budget, lead/sales goals and booth design) are the keys to success. When the show is over, you’ll want to recap how you and your booth performed in these three categories.

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Create an exhibit timeline calendar and then double it. Many companies begin the process of planning six months to a year before the show. The real go-getters have everything completed months before. With all of the moving parts to your plan, something (if not multiple things) are going to stall at some point. As you’re probably relying on multiple other companies to provide you with certain components, plan on delays with them as well.

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Use quality displays! How your display looks will create the first impression that people have of you. It’s pretty simple to spot the companies that chose to go the lazy/cheap route when designing their booth. It’s equally as easy to spot the brands that invested wisely in their display design. There are so many options for renting/buying new and previously owned displays, with a little research you’ll be shocked at just how affordable it can be. You can’t put a dollar amount on the value of a first impression.

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Make sure you properly staff your booth. We often forget that our staff will need to eat, use a restroom, make a phone call or catch some simple mental health time away from the craziness that is a trade show. Creating a schedule that includes in/out times, lunch breaks and AM/PM mental health breaks is vital. Run that booth like a well oiled machine! If it’s in the budget, do your staff right and provide them with food and refreshments to get them through the day. Your staff needs to keep their energy level up, ensure it stays up by meeting these needs for them.

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About the author: William Hall is a seasoned business coach specializing in branding, social media and promotional events. William has spent his career teaching businesses of all sizes how to stand out in the crowd while using marketing dollars most effectively. His clients are continuously thankful for his out-of-the-box ideas that lead to increased revenue, more clicks and a bigger online presence.





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