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Ten Tips for Trade Show or Exhibit Success

So, you’re doing a trade show or expo or displaying at an association meeting or selling at a crafts fair and wonder how to get the best results. I displayed at a trade show this week and noticed quite a few success tips I wanted to share with you. Here are my top ten.

1— Have a goal. Whenever you register for a trade show, you should clearly define the objectives you hope to achieve. Write them down. It could be making contacts in the community (how many do you hope to make), taking orders (again, set a goal of how many orders you hope to get), setting appointments, shaking hands or whatever. Just make sure you have some sort of goal or objective for the show. At the very least, decide to bring back x-number of business cards.

2—Work the booth. Many booths are left unmanned for long periods of time. If you pay for a booth, make sure you can work it for all but the briefest break periods. Have a helper or two if possible. If you have someone else who can work the booth, you can visit other booth vendors who might also be great prospects.

3— Bring the “essentials”. You must have a healthy supply of business cards and your basic sales brochure or flyer, and you almost always need a way to collect information from the attendees—a drawing for a prize is common. If you do not have a giveaway or registration for a prize, you will need a spectacular booth to draw participants in or you might just watch them walk on by.

4—Wear comfortable shoes and plan to stand. Rarely do people have much success sitting down while attendees (prospects) walk by. I usually push the chairs and the table to the back of the space to allow room for attendees to come into the booth and talk with me or look at my materials. This also removes the barrier of being behind a table, so people feel more comfortable.

5—Be happy. Nobody wants to talk to someone who looks like intimidating or bored or unfriendly, so make sure you smile at everyone. Act like you want to be there and are happy to meet them.

6--Condense your message. You cannot do your usual sales presentation in just the few seconds you will have to spend with attendees. Let them know in a nutshell what you do and how you can help them. Tell them what to do next—call, visit your website, come by your store, etc.

8—If traffic slows and you get bored, find someone to engage. Talk to the vendor next to you or the next attendee coming down the aisle. Do not sit around looking bored. Do not check your cell phone messages or make calls or play Tetris. Talk to somebody about your business.

9—Tie your booth display to what you do. The more visually you can demonstrate your business, the better. If you can give away a fabulous prize related to your company, do so. You have a tiny bit of space and the more you can set yourself apart, the more people will remember you. For example: If you teach time management, hire a juggler to juggle at your booth. If you own a chain of manicure salons, have a few people join you for brief hand massages while you talk about the benefits of great hand and nail care. If you make soap, rent a bubble machine and set up your booth with a bubble bath, including great smells, candles, and plenty of product to sell.

10—Follow up. A trade show is only as good as the sales it generates. As you meet vendors or other prospects who give you their business cards, make notes on the back and then follow up via email or call them for coffee. If you have a tradeshow list or a fishbowl full of attendee’s contact information, send them a postcard with a special trade show discount.

Trade shows can be excellent ways to market your business if you make the most of them! Using these ten trade show tips can help you boost your success.

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