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10 Tips for Executing a Successful Event or Trade Show

Success metaphorAre you planning your next trade show or event? Do you know you have an average of 3 seconds to make an impression on an attendee?

It can be a challenge to conduct successful events, identify the right display, maximize crowd impact, and get the best return on your investment.

These 10 tips will help you rock your next trade show:

1. Create the buzz on social media. Promote on your website and get the word out with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Ideally, this should be done pre-event, at event and post-event. Include photos of your display with your booth staff. Acknowledge comments on the social media sites by tweeting or liking back.

2. Create the WOW factor. Choose graphics wisely. It’s best to use between 5-10 words, depending on the size of your display. Let your booth staffers tell your organization’s story. Use a video loop on an iPad or flat-screen TV to showcase your organization and draw in attendees. Your logo printed on a tablecloth is the finishing touch.

3. Choose the right types of displays. Having a display that requires minimal time and labor is a huge help in your show success. To give a shameless plug here, Skyline Windscape® is a great solution for easy set-up and tear down with the press of a button! It’s the world’s first air-powered exhibit system and it stays inflated the entirety of the show. It does not need air flow to keep it running and standing. It’s available in 40+ sizes, including tabletop and 10’ backwall. See the video here.

Tabletop displays are often blocked by people’s height. If using these, we recommend overhead lights to draw attention to your display and stand out at the venue,

4. Use promotional giveaways with your company logo. Useful items go a long way, but don’t just choose a giveaway because it’s popular. Just because it works for another company it does not mean it will work for you. Your giveaways should be tied to your message or your brand. This article will help you immensely.

5. Use the right booth staff and be engaged. Have a raffle using interactive games or questionnaire on iPads or tablets. Set up the iPad or tablet to capture the leads for follow-up after the event. Prizes could include gift baskets geared to your audience, a discount on your products or services, gift cards to coffee shops, local restaurants, or museums.

Don’t let your booth staff eat in the booth. If someone needs to eat, have them step out of the booth and rotate their breaks with other staffers. Be Approachable. Stand in front of your booth and 2-3 team members are recommended. It’s best to avoid cell phone use unless live tweeting. For more in-depth tips about great booth staffing, check out our free educational book here.

6. Sponsorship. Sponsor an event or trade show. It can be worth the money to receive the attendee list and exposure on the website, pre-event marketing, invitations and e-newsletters.

7. Referrals. Consider this great referral system – printed business cards with a line for writing “referred by.” The attendee writes in their name and passes the cards out to applicable business associates and friends. In return, the attendee receives an incentive gift card.

8. Business Cards. Have plenty available of the key contacts and use business card holders.

9. Literature. Be sustainable! We are seeing less of printed materials and brochures at events. Some are spiral-bound or in literature racks. If you display any, remember less is more. One staffing firm executive includes a one-page handout with resume tips and career resources. A hospital executive uses a one-page fact sheet. Your best option now is to ask for someone’s email, and then tell them you’ll follow up with a pdf of their requested brochure or an information email after the show. This gives your client less to worry about and will also give them satisfaction when you do follow up as promised.

10. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up! Almost 80% of leads are not followed up. This article will help you accomplish this daunting task.

Remember: You have an average of 3 seconds to make an impression on an attendee. Make sure you captivate them and don’t make them work too hard. Convey a clear message and design your display wisely.

tst-new-exhibitorIf you’re new to exhibiting or if you’re looking for sure ways to boost your trade show exhibiting, read Trade Show Tips for New Exhibitors. This book is packed full of advice and helpful ideas to help you become the best exhibitor you can be. Click here for your free copy.

About the Author

Anne Hydock was a Business Development Manager for Skyline Event Services in Cleveland, OH.

15 responses to “10 Tips for Executing a Successful Event or Trade Show

  1. Great article Anne! I’m glad to see how much emphasis you put on Following up! It’s unbelievable how few companies actually follow up on leads they have acquired at trade shows. I have seen thousands of business cards and lead forms simply get put in a box and never looked at again.

  2. Good info, but not sure about #9. A physical object in the hand (fact sheet carefully researched) that can be filed and easily referred to will be remembered and used. Talk to people in offices – emails, tweets, etc. disappear forever into bottomless pits – the volume is simply atrocious!

    1. Hi Len, thank you for your note. You are right about a physical object in hand. I mentioned single sheets of paper and less is more to be sustainable. Most heavy printed material gets tossed in the trash at the show hall or hotel. And it can be an added cost shipping those materials back.

  3. Thank you Ann for sharing these insights. I agree with what you said on social media– you really need to keep doing it before, during, and after the trade show. That’s how customers are going to remember you. Really enjoyed reading this!

  4. That’s a good tip to create social media buzz about your tradeshow event. That way you can start developing brand awareness online. My cousin once had a video go viral, so it makes sense that social media is really good at getting people more aware of your event.

  5. Thank you for pointing out that companies who are planning to have a tradeshow must have their logo printed out in the fabric. I also agree with you that they must give away promotional products that are tied up with their brand. Well, if I had a company, I would make sure to rent an LCD tv screen because this will help show off our commercial and marketing campaign.

  6. Thanks for your tips on creating a successful trade show display. I agree with you that there needs to be a wow factor. I think a good example of a wow factor to incorporate would be a live cartoon artist to grab attention.

  7. Great Blog! You have shared a very useful piece of information. The knowledge that you have shared through your blog is great. Keep sharing such blog in the future too.

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