How to Win Big at Your First Trade Show

While COVID certainly put a damper on trade shows for much of the past year, we’re finally reaching a point where many of the country’s top trade shows are returning. If this will be your first time bringing your business to one, there are a few things you’ll want to be prepared for.

The Power of Trade Shows

If you’ve never been to a trade show, then it’s easy to underestimate just how valuable these opportunities are – particularly for growing businesses that are looking to expand their footprint. Top benefits include:

1. Face-to-Face.

Getting to spend face-to-face time with your target market and customers is invaluable. You can learn more about your customer in a five-minute in-person conversation than in five hours of online research. (And from the customer’s perspective, they’re much more likely to do business with you if they have the opportunity to shake your hand and get to know you.)

2. Motivated Audience.

If someone is attending a trade show as a customer, they’re highly motivated. You won’t find a ton of tire-kickers at these events. This saves you time and ensures every conversation you’re having has the potential to be a revenue-generating conversation.

3. Instant Feedback.

Trade shows are a great place to introduce new products or try out a new pitch. The face-to-face, interactive nature of these events gives you honest, real-time feedback.

4. Industry Research and Networking.

While customers are your priority, trade shows also give you the chance to rub shoulders with other businesses and professionals in your industry. This allows you to (a) research your competition and understand them better, and (b) network and form partnerships with other companies.

4 Tips for Maximum Trade Show ROI

When you add all of these benefits up, trade shows are a no-brainer. But we also understand that it takes a lot of planning and effort on the front end. Plus, it can be an expensive proposition. So if you want to make it worth your while, there has to be a plan. Here are a few tips to ensure you get positive results:

1. Bring Your Best People

Trade show success is highly dependent on the individual interactions you have with attendees. (Your mere presence at the event isn’t going to generate a return on your investment.) And if you want to maximize each interaction you have, you need the right people in your booth.

As you plan for your first trade show, assemble a team that consists of your most gregarious, personable, and loyal employees. You want people who love your business and won’t have any trouble sharing that joy and conviction with others. These are the people who need to make the trip.

2. Bring the Right Marketing Materials

You never want someone to leave your trade show booth empty-handed. They should always have some sort of marketing material in their hand. That’s why we recommend printing custom brochures prior to the event. Brochures are easy to hand out and can provide a full rundown of who your business is and what you’re all about. It’s a no-brainer.

3. Pay for Prime Real Estate

Many trade shows will offer prime booth locations at a higher price point. And if you pay to play their game, you can potentially get a lot more eyeballs and foot traffic. Prime real estate includes areas by bathrooms, food vendors, and entry/exit points. We highly recommend paying for one of these locations if you can fit it into your budget.

4. Leverage Interactive Elements

People love to be hands-on. Any time you’re able to integrate an interactive element into your trade show booth, that’s a huge win. This could look like using the product, being able to touch some of the materials, taste testing food, or anything in between. The more you’re able to immerse people in sensory experiences, the more memorable the interaction becomes.

Turn Your Trade Show Into a Success

Done correctly, a trade show can be the catalyst you need to have a successful year. It can lead to new customers, new partnerships, and an enhanced understanding of who your audience is, what they need, and the best possible way to serve them. Keep these strategies in mind and you won’t have any trouble generating a positive return on investment.