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First Time Exhibiting at a Trade Show? Here’s What You Need to Know to be Successful

Being a first time exhibitor means that you have a lot of things to do before you can consider your event a successful one. If you’re facing your first event, here are a few tips that you can use to prepare for your first-time trade show appearance.

Set Objectives for the Trade Show

It’s not enough to gather a few leads and call your event a success. To truly understand whether attending the trade show was worth the expense, you need to set some concrete objectives. Get together with your team and set some realistic and attainable goals. Do you want to gather 200 qualified leads? Or do you want to increase your company’s sales by 10%? Knowing if you met these goals and attributing direct sales to your custom trade show display can help you determine your return on investment, which can help you decide whether you want to attend future events.

Success Road Sign

Design Your Trade Show Exhibit with Professional Help

Next, make sure that your trade show exhibit is carefully designed. If you expect that exhibiting will become a regular occurrence for your company, you should consider purchasing an exhibit. However, if you’re not sure if trade shows are right for your business, it may be better to rent. Whether you choose to rent or purchase a booth, you can find a custom trade show exhibit with one-of-a-kind configurations and personalized, professionally-designed graphics that will help your company give a great impression.

Don’t Forget to Leave Room in Your Budget for Extras

Your trade show exhibit isn’t the only thing that you need to consider when you’re trying to work out your budget. You’ll also need to think about paying for trade show giveaways, shipping charges, travel expenses (including meals and hotels), promotional brochures, and fees for installation and dismantle service. These costs can all add up quickly and if you don’t have the room in your budget, you will be left scrambling.

Make Sure Your Staff is Well-Trained to Work Your Booth

Lastly, don’t forget to train your booth staff. If they’re left wandering around or they don’t know how to approach potential customers, all of your efforts for the event will be wasted. Beforehand, go through possible scenarios with different types of customers and have your employees practice qualifying them to make sure that hot leads get the attention they deserve. Also, train your staff to be self-aware at all times. By giving off the wrong body language, attendees could view the staffers as unapproachable. Your staffers represent your company and give your company a reputation and association. If the staff has their arms crossed, or if they’re constantly on their cell phones, or if they’re focused more on each other than attendees and potential customers, you can bet that they are driving business away.

Having the right booth staffers is one of the most important pieces to a successful trade show. Get your hands on the 46-page Booth Staffing Guidebook for tools to train and motivate your staffers. Click here to request your free copy.

About the Author

Bob Watson has been helping clients in the New York region dominate trade show marketing events for over 30 years. As President of Skyline New York, a leading trade show marketing resource known for customized exhibit innovations, Bob helps his partners use distinctive modular components to create New York trade show displays and complementing banner stands that captivate and compel crowds while effectively broadening brand exposure and reach. For more information on trade show displays, trade show booths, and trade show exhibits in New York, please visit

3 responses to “First Time Exhibiting at a Trade Show? Here’s What You Need to Know to be Successful

  1. There are quite a few reasons as to why one might exhibit at trade show. Brand awareness, industry exposure, partnerships and alliances, collecting sales and marketing leads are some of the reasons for exhibiting. However, the most important aspect of any marketing campaign is to to measure your ROI. As long as your gross profit is higher than your total investment based on LTV:CAC performance model ( then you’ll post a positive ROI.

    Other creative ways of posting higher ROI, is when you design your exhibit that lends voice to your brand attributes.

    Most important: You have to know your target audience and what drives customer decisions.

    1. I think measuring the “true” ROI of a trade show is a lot easier said than done, if anything you probably more often then not underestimate your return when trying to measure. Sure you can use measurements and do your best to track any direct sales, but it’s nearly impossible to accurately track the total impact. Do you have any tips for tracking indirect sales? I’ve always had trouble with that which makes me think establishing the CAC for the life time value formula would be very difficult. I’ve tried things such as custom url’s on literature, specific promo does etc, but even that isn’t very accurate. And if you have any other promotions or campaigns going on at the same time, that rules out using any historical data.

      Even though it has a bad reputation I like the LTV formula too, but it’s probably just because we’re marketers! Great post though! The article and resources are great!

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