Be a Trade Show-Off

A little planning goes a long way toward making your trade show exhibit a success


Participating in trade show might seem expensive, until you delve into the whole subject a bit more. If you plan and conduct your exhibit well, the cost per qualified sales lead can be far less than with any other marketing or advertising venue. You also might see much more immediate results, because you’ve already made your first sales call-right in your trade show booth.

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), about three quarters (72 percent) of trade show attendees have participated in at least one sales call in the last two years – that means that 28 percent of show attendees have not. A trade show exhibit could be your only chance to reach this other 28 percent of potential customers face-to-face. CEIR also says that this 28 percent of attendees have a net buying influence of 89 percent –with 29 percent having final say in purchasing decisions, 31 percent responsible for specifying a vendor or brand, and 67 percent determining the need for a purchase.

With all this buying power at your fingertips, maximizing your trade show exhibit results is vitally important. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Pick the right events

Choose the trade show events you want to attend when you axe doing your annual budget for the next year. It’s important to make sure that you are exhibiting in the right shows for your market and product. Ask the organizations sponsoring the trade shows you’re considering for a demographic breakdown of attendees from prior years before you make any decisions.

Once you’ve decided what shows you want to attend, see if they fit into your overall marketing and advertising budget.

Set a budget for each show

Make sure you plan to spend enough money to make your exhibit a success, and anticipate every expense item. It’s better to attend fewer shows and do it right than to attend a lot of shows and skimp on what you need to make your exhibit a success.

Costs to consider include:


    1. Travel for all booth staff to and from the show, as well as food and lodging expenses


    1. Direct mail campaign before the show to all potential attendees, inviting them to visit your booth


    1. Following up after the trade show with mailings and phone 6alls – bear in mind that you also need to budget staff time on this activity


    1. Booth space rental


    1. Display and furniture rental (or would it be cheaper to buy your own instead?)


    1. Electrical hook-up for booth equipment and fixtures


    1. Booth signage


    1. Phone hook-up (do you need this or can everybody use their cell phones? Will cell phones work inside the exhibit hall)


    1. Lead collection (most shorts offer the option of renting a badge reader that scans visitor information directly from attendees’ name badges)


    1. Paying to have your booth cleaned and vacuumed each night (would it be easier to bring your own vacuum, spray cleaner, and dust cloths?)


    1. Shipping costs to get your product and display items to and from the exhibit hall (this is usually the largest expense)


    1. Set-up and tear-down costs – in a lot of large cities, you are required to use union labor to perform these tasks, as well as electrical and telephone work (which is often as simple as plugging a cord into the wall).


Location, location, location

Pick the best booth spot you can to guarantee that you get a lot of attendee traffic, Try to get on a main aisle, close to the entrance, on a corner, These spots go fast, so if you’ve dragged your decision-making feet, try to get near any food courts or snack areas, Should you be near your competitors, or far away? Actually, being close to your competitors is an advantage – likeminded attendees will congregate in the area.

Size and flow

Smaller companies tend to rent the smallest booth size – usually 10’ by 10′. Not only does this let everybody know that you’re a small company, it also makes it virtually impossible for visitors to enter your “space” – they’re stuck standing in the aisle being jostled by traffic. Try to spring for a 10’x 20′ booth, and arrange it to encourage visitor flow within yow space.

Trade shows are powerful

According to CEIR, 90 percent of attendees use exhibitions as their number one source of purchasing information and 48 percent only need to hear from an exhibitor once after the show to make a purchasing decision, These customers have checked out the competition, and they’re ready to buy – in fact, 57 percent of trade show visitors will make a purchasing decision in the next 12 months. It’s clear that maximizing your trade show presence and follow-up will increase your sales and decrease your costs per sale.

Related articles:

Small Business And Events

Up Close and Personal

Planning Is Key For Successful Meetings

A Meeting to Remember

Taking the Entrepreneurial Plunge



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