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A Manager’s Guide to Surviving A Trade Show

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A Manager’s Guide to Surviving A Trade Show

Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned veteran, it’s no secret your preparedness plays a great role in a trade show’s success. From trade show exhibit design to staff training, you have a lot of responsibilities, and keeping tabs on all of the moving parts while in the midst of a show can be overwhelming. To help trade show managers, we’ve put together this survival guide to keep you organized and confident from start to finish – covering tangible before, during and post-show action items critical for your program.


The Pre-Show Checklist

Set and Document Trade Show Goals

Determining trade show ROI is hard to do unless pre-determined goals are declared. Not only should they be in line with marketing, sales and company goals, but they should also be measurable. Using the SMART formula is a great place to start:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based.

Designing Your Exhibit

Your ability to attract and engage attendees relies on your exhibit design and messaging. Work with a trade show exhibit house so all components of your program are cohesive and relevant. Once a theme has been decided, order promotional materials, giveaways and prizes.

Select Your Space on the Floor

Prime spots on the trade show floor will go quickly, so research the deadlines for claiming your space. The longer you wait, the less ideal your spot will be, which could result in fewer visitors, and less revenue in the long run.

Train the Booth Staff

Even if you have the most engaging exhibit on the floor, a clueless staff will crush that potential. Clearly communicate show goals, staff roles and company expectations to your staff.

Spread the Word

Share with your customers that you are exhibiting at a trade show. Tell them far enough in advance so they can make travel arrangements if you’d like them to attend. You might also want to inform vendors, local and national media, and current prospects to let them know you’ll be at the show.

Pack the Essentials and Then Some

Comfortable shoes are the most important items on your personal packing list, but when it comes to your exhibit, it’s better to be over prepared. Some items to remember include tape, extension cords, basic office supplies (pens, rubber bands, stapler), first-aid kit and business cards.


What to Remember During the Show

Keep a Record

No matter how good your memory is, you will encounter hundreds, if not thousands, of people leaving you mentally drained at the end of the day. If you’re on the front lines, document your interactions as best you can. For behind-the-scene managers, keep a record of what’s going smoothly and what problems have surfaced. These notes can help you better prepare for the next show.

Get Staff Out of their Comfort Zone

If your staff members are simply staying in the booth waiting for prospects to approach them, they’re losing sales opportunities. Encourage them to move freely around the exhibit, engage with onlookers and bring them into the exhibit.

Keep an Eye on Your Staff

Although you don’t want to micromanage your exhibit staff, you do want to observe their behaviors. What they’re doing could either enhance or jeopardize relationships. For staff displaying positive behavior, ask them to demonstrate to their counterparts who may be struggling with one-on-one interaction.  Hold a staff meeting as soon as the show closes on the first day to encourage feedback on changes or different approaches for the following day.

Create a Buzz

Are you on social media before, during and after a trade show? Your attendees are! Leverage social media to entice attendees to come to your booth. You can share information about speakers, giveaways and demo sessions.


Post-Show Action Items

Reach Out to Prospects

You don’t need to be a veteran to know that following up with prospects is the most important step to take once a show concludes. The longer your sales reps wait, the less likely an attendee remembers them. They need to make a point to follow up promptly and personally.

Launch a Follow Up Campaign

The system that you use to collect leads can make this step either very easy or rather complicated, so plan ahead of time how your company will do this. Send an email campaign with custom content to the recipients based on specific company interactions. For example, one set of emails can go to prospects who interacted with product X, while another campaign with unique content can be sent for product Y.

Post-Show Analysis

Pull up your notes and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the event. Did an engagement aspect of your booth exceed expectations? Were attendees unexpectedly excited about a particular service? Doing an analysis of your performance can save you time and money before your next show. During this step, it’s also helpful to review what your competitors did at the show, as well as gain important staff and stakeholder feedback regarding the show.

With all of these things to remember, we want to make your trade show design process is a breeze. Contact us today to learn about your exhibit design options and our dedicated Results Division.