The (Unofficial) Idiot's Three Minute Guide to
Trade Show Displays



Trade Show Booth Promotion

So you've finished reading The (Unofficial) Idiot's 3 Minute Guide to Trade Show Displays and you've decided to go to a trade show and exhibit at it to to market your business, product, and/or service. Following the (Unofficial) Idiot's advice, you've done your research and you've selected a trade show, and now you're signed up for a trade show booth space at the show. So now what do you do? Well, if you're of the opinion that you can just go to the trade show and then people will magically show up at your trade show booth with orders and cash in hand, you may want to stop reading this and keep on dreaming. But if you recognize trade show marketing is tough hard work and you desire to learn the fundamentals of trade show booth promotion, then continue reading. Promotion for trade show booths is just a fancy way of saying getting qualified traffic to come to your trade show booth and then converting that qualified traffic into paying customers. If you desire your trade show marketing to be successful, you need qualified traffic. If you want qualified traffic, you must promote your trade show booth. I break trade show booth promotion into three simple steps: Before The Show, At The Show, and After The Show. Really, the third step is not so much promotion but transforming your trade show promotion success into business success!


random trade fair scene 3Of course, first you need to pick the right trade show for exhibiting at. Then you must develop a detailed and accurate budget with all the costs for exhibiting at your show included. Then you need to make sure there is potential to make more money from exhibiting at the trade show than it costs you to exhibit (this may seem like common sense but many first-time exhibitors miss this). After you're done with that, you can turn your focus on your trade show booth promotion. The majority of trade shows will provide you as an exhibitor with a mailing list of the attendees that are going to the show. Be sure to get the attendee list and then mail out a pre-show mailer. You need to put together a mailer that will create trade show magnetism. Your pre-show mailer should tell attendees that you'll be exhibiting at the show. It should also say where your trade show booth will be, and why they should visit it (how your company can help them). I am also a big proponent of providing a good incentive for them to visit, such as trade show giveaways (also known as "trade show schwag"). Your trade show giveaway should fit into your budget of course, but it also has to be valuable enough to entice attendees to stop by. It also must be valuable enough or useful enough to guarantee people keep it when they depart the show. You don't want it to end up in their hotel trash can. And naturally your trade show giveaways should have your business name and contact information on them. You might want to think about coupling your trade show giveaways with a raffle or contest. You could offer everyone that comes to your trade show booth a "courtesy gift" and also have a raffle to give away a new Prius (or $50 Starbucks gift card, depending on that pesky budget). Part of your pre-show preparation should be ensuring you have a trade show display for your trade show booth. You want your trade show display to be attention-grabbing and eye-catching, and of course, it must have a clear message that is focused on your prospective customer - remember the points in The (Unofficial) Idiot's 3 Minute Guide to Trade Show Displays?


After you arrive at your trade show booth and set up your stunning trade show display (you invested in stunning trade show display graphics, right?), you'll want to prepare for the onslaught of booth traffic you're about to face (you followed step one, right?). At your trade show booth, you should be polite and professional, but you also need to qualify people that come to your booth and decide quickly if they are qualified prospects. If they aren't qualified prospects, then thank them for stopping but politely send them on their merry way. However, if they are a qualified prospect, then make sure you get their contact information for Step Three, and then talk with them about the ways you can help them. Naturally, in order to determine how you can assist them, you'll need ask them multiple questions to determine what they need, and after that you'll need to listen carefully to their answers. Let your prospect do the majority of the talking, but also be sure to tell them how you can assist them. From that point on, it's just standard business and salesmanship. Lastly, because you don't want to have people waiting and then giving up and walking away, it is always a good idea to have at least two people staffing your trade show booth whenever possible.


Some exhibitors make the age-old mistake of thinking their trade show booth promotion work is over and done when the trade show is finished. They think the last step is to pack up their trade show display and then ship it back to the company. While technically the show and thus the trade show promotion is over, if you make the mistake of stopping now, most of your promotion effort will have been for peanuts (no offense meant to peanut farmers or any other farmers, but you want more from your effort than that, right?). Once you get home from the show, you may take a day off to relax and re-charge, but then you need to start FOLLOWING UP! You must email or call all of those valuable prospects that you spoke with at the show. If you call and they aren't available, you can leave a message. But if you don't receive a call back from them, you must call again. Your job now is to transform your successful trade show booth promotion into business success by transforming your trade show booth prospects into customers. Follow up, follow up, and follow up. Don't stop until you've made all that trade show exhibiting work pay off.

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A friendly warning to any scrapers or copycats - please don't be a trade show rapscallion and copy this article from the Idiot's Guide to Trade Show Displays without at least trying or attempting to get my permission! In legal terms, this article is "all rights reserved". In real-world terms, please be a polite person and if you'd like to copy or use this article, write me an email (the email address is on home page) and please be so kind as to ASK me. Peace. Out. Thanks.