Jitters, butterflies, nerves. Whatever you call them, they are out in full force before your first trade show experience! The key to a successful appearance is planning, planning, planning. And then more planning. It won’t take away all the pre-show tension; you need a little to keep you on your toes, after all. But it will alleviate much of the stress and worry – and help ensure that you have a great show.
- Start planning early. If you think it’s way too early, you’re right on time. You need months of lead time to plan your trade show exhibits, train your booth staff, secure assets, and make sure your branding and messaging is tight and on-target.
Leave extra time in case a vendor is late with an asset, the printer misspells your brand name on your brochures or merchandise (yes, it has been known to happen!), or you have to hire and train additional staff. There are a variety of details that you do not want to have to take care of at the last minute, when pre-show nerves are at their peak.
- Set clear objectives and metrics. What do you want to accomplish? What will success look like – and how will you measure it? Some brands do it by the numbers: for example, we will be successful if 1000 people come by our trade show displays. Others measure by how many emails or phone numbers they capture, sales they close, or tweets and retweets from influencers. Whatever your objectives, find a way to track them to see if the show is delivering you a solid return on your investment.
- Design a knock-out booth. Attractive and innovative trade show booths draw visitors and display your brand’s unique appeal. Make sure you’re visible across the convention center (think height – assets like banner stands help you reach above the crowd). Graphics, technology, and an open design invite people to come in and take a look. Crowds especially love hands-on activities or demonstrations. Why not use banner stands to create a tech kiosk to display your newest product? When people can do something, they are far more likely to be engaged.
- Promote your appearance. Newsletters, social media, email, and press releases are all great ways to “seed,” or announce, your trade show Get people excited. How? Try setting up special hashtags or running a fun contest on Instagram or Facebook to draw people in before, during, and after the show itself.
You cannot over plan for your first trade show. The more time and effort you put into this stage, the better the results you will see. Is it too early to prepare? Never! Get started now for your next opportunity.