A few times a year, tradesfolk and craftspeople climb out of their workshops and offices, turn their faces to the too-often unseen sunshine, and head like a migrating cloud of quirky but perpetually stressed-out butterflies to the gatherings of their people and potential clients, known by mere mortals as “trade shows.” Ah, trade shows, with their miles of cardboard signage and wire grid displays, enormous crowds that ebb and flow like particularly noisy and heavily branded tides, permanently-grinning salespeople who could really use a chair and a break, and the overwhelming smell of a cookie vendor that no one can ever seem to find. They can seem overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time exhibiting in one. But fear not, for we have tips!
Get people excited about your booth! Let everyone on social media know where you’re going to be and when, and be sure to tell all of your customers and friends about it as well. Send out mailers, make posters, or send out the word via carrier pigeon and singing telegram. This is your party, so make sure you have some friendly faces there!
Location is Key
Getting a booth space that is close to where the action is can make or break a convention weekend. You want to look for spots on main aisles, corners or row ends, and near (but not right on top of) entrances, bathrooms and food courts. Be where the people are.
Make a Good First Impression
In such a hectic, jam-packed event like a trade show or convention, it’s important to make sure your best side is presented at all times in order to be noticed. Make sure your booth is bright, clean and inviting. Put your big sellers front and center, as well as your most eye-catching inventory. And don’t be modest – if you have any awards or accolades, show them off! You’re here for business. Make sure the attendees know it.
And while visual impressions are important, don’t forget about your staff. Friendly, approachable and well-informed staff (in uniform, if applicable) are the backbone of your store, and showcasing your amazing talent is just as important at a show, if not more so.
Does your store do classes or events? Do you make neat things? Then show off! Everyone loves a show, so put on a good one and you’ll get the traffic you’re looking for.
Bring a Friend (or Three)
We are, by and large, a herd society. We like to be where people are and do what other people are doing. Having some friends or family milling around (with purpose, naturally) near your booth can show to other attendees that you’ve got a busy and thriving business, and people will respond to that.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that people love free stuff. It doesn’t even really matter what – be it pens, lanyards or decorative tea cozies – people will want it if they don’t have to pay for it. If you can get some branded stuff (or better yet, snacks!) out into the general public, it can do a lot to improve your brand awareness.
Similarly, you could try doing a giveaway or drawing. It’s a great way for people to get interested in your business, with the added bonus of registration names and email addresses for your mailing lists!
Be Friendly and Observant
If this is your first show, be sure to be nice to your neighbors. They may be old pros with tips that even I, with my infinite wisdom and the vast reaches of Google, didn’t know about. They may know lots of good information about the particular venue or any other nearby shows, so it’s always beneficial to strike up a friendship or two (and it’s just good manners).
Follow Up Soon
During the shows, offers and websites and information are being thrown between vendors and attendees left and right, so don’t forget to follow up on any big prospects you might have gotten. And sooner is better; the longer you wait, the more your contact might have forgotten about you. It’s recommended to go standard first date rules: wait 1-3 days to reach out and follow up.
Want more inspiration for your next show or expo? Check out our Pinterest page!
PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.