Trade shows can serve to be dynamic environments that kick start the next wave of growth for your business or they can be a tedious waste of time and money. The key to success is largely in your preparation and presentation on the showroom floor – and that doesn’t happen by accident. Being properly equipped with the right materials and engaging display are critical to your success.

Start With An Eye-Catching Display


If you have ever attended a trade show or convention as a customer, you will quickly recognize that there is a lot of competition for your attention. The space can be crowded and noisy, and with a room full of marketers each vying for success, unless you are in the market for a specific product or service, it may be difficult for a vendor that you hadn’t considered to get your attention.

It’s important to think like a customer when you develop your trade show display. The banners or signage that you have to identify your business and get the show patrons to stop for even a moment to explore it in greater depth could be the one chance to you have to grab their attention and tell them more about you and what you do.

The cost and design of a standing display that spans the full width of your booth has evolved greatly over the past generation and now, with advances on printing and materials as well, there is no excuse not to show up with a full color display that includes striking imagery that is sure to capture the attention of even the most passive show patrons.

Your imagery should speak to your audience. If you are in the travel business, you might want to include an image which shows the view from a lawn chair on a tropical beach – both to draw upon the desires of people to travel, but also to create a stark contrast to the congestion and chaos of the trade show environment itself. This might prompt people to step into your booth as though they have found a temporary oasis in an otherwise hustle-and-bustle setting.

When considering your options for a display, consider how many members of your team will be involved with set up and tear down. Look for hardware that is lightweight, comes in a wheeled case, and is easy for one person to set up quickly and with minimal effort.

Practice Your Elevator Pitch


With so many sights and sounds to compete against, you may only have one chance to grab a patron’s attention. If you aren’t prepared to share your message quickly and concisely, you may lose out on the opportunity to close the deal and land a new client.  Give careful consideration to how you will represent your product in 30 seconds or less. That summary should let the customer know if they need more information, or if their time would be better spent elsewhere.

Yes, printed material and marketing brochures are great for the client to take away and keep you in mind, but they are only going to hold onto that paper if they have made a genuine connection with you at the event. Don’t lead with your “take away” content and district them from your message. Lead with your pitch first, then support your message with your hand out material.

Promotional Items


If you’ve spent any time at trade shows, you’ll recognize that there are some people who attend these events specifically to mine for the free prize draws and promotional items that are available for give away. While those types of event patrons may not be who you hope is picking up your products, the fact is that people love to get something for free and a branded promotional item can have a strong appeal to get people to your booth where you have the chance to engage them in greater detail.

While as a business owner, you may be considering the cost of your marketing material, so that you can purchase in mass volumes to reach a wider audience, it is important also to consider the originality and usefulness of the product. The relevance of the item to your business or to your clients is also important to consider. If you are a medical company that deals in supplies for those who are suffering from cancer, you may not want to put your logo on an ashtray.

In terms of usefulness, one product that may be sure to survive the event and make it back into the customer’s home is a canvas tote bag. In a trade show environment, patrons are picking up brochures, magazines, catalogs, promotional items from other vendors – by the time they get to you, they may simply have their hands full. A canvas bag is a thoughtful item that you can offer or patrons might seek out, referring others to you as they get overwhelmed with items as well.

Pens, refrigerator magnets and keychains are also popular as they are small, portable, easily carried or stashed in a pocket. But before you commit to these items, you may want to consider what other booths may have to offer. If you’re offering the same thing, or worse, a lesser quality item, you may not help your cause.

Other popular items now include mobile technology devices – computer memory sticks are popular as they allow you to brand a handy devices that many working people need readily at hand for personal and professional use. They are sure to hold onto this item and see it regularly. One of the added benefits of the memory stick strategy is that you can pre-load the device with material about your business – electronic versions of brochures, photographs, and more can be put into the user’s hands and viewed any time that they plug the device into a computer port.

Mobile tech has continued to change the promotional product market. Now, options like charge cords for phones or tablets, or other similar accessories are gaining increasing popularity as businesses look to be seen as relevant, current and hip to evolving trends.

Know Your Competition


For many trade shows, the vendors will be issued a layout of the floor space with a map identifying where their booth is located. For event organizers, this is intended to help with a more efficient move in and set up in advance of the show opening. However, if you only use this material to figure out your game plan for set up and teardown, you are missing an opportunity.

Take the time to see which businesses are going to be in neighboring booths, find out where your competitors are set up and consider your placement in your marketing strategy for the event. This may also help to inform what types of promotional products and materials you bring with you. This might also inspire how you decorate your booth to best set yourself apart from your neighbors, or draw upon shared demographics from the neighboring businesses displayed. If you are selling ATV’s and your neighbor is a camping retailer, there could be some mutually beneficial collaboration through advance coordination.

Create a “one stop shop” convenience to inspire more on floor sales.

Complacency is a Killer


Probably the most important thing you can bring to a trade show is your undivided attention for the patrons. Trade show traffic flows in waves and during the slow periods at any event, it can become easy to get distracted by your phone or tablet to check e-mails, scroll your social media feed, or respond to text messages.

While this may feel like being efficient as a multi-tasker, it conveys a complacent and dismissive attitude to passing clients, who may simply pass you by undetected. Find ways to remain engaged and attentive to the traffic on the trade floor and eliminate distractions. Should you find yourself in a position where may you have to manage business at your office remotely while representing your brand in your booth – schedule a partner to attend with you or to take over at key points throughout the day to give you an opportunity to refresh, tend to business, and reduce distraction from the task at hand.

Need Help Getting Started?


If you are just getting into the trade show game to market your business, getting started with the right resource materials and products can be quite overwhelming. At Laser Screen Printing we have worked with many business owners in your same predicament to create striking, visual displays and memorable promotional products to make your next trade show experience a success.

We welcome you to get in touch with us and share your challenges, ideas and needs to help us get you started on the path to success. Let’s get working on your jaw-dropping, customer-inspiring trade show package today.

Leave a comment