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First-Timer Trade Show Attendee Experience

As a well put together company, you want to have a booth that catches the eye of the average customer passing by so you can engage them. Many of your consumers are most likely not as keen on information about your products or trade shows as you are, so you need to be able to accommodate for this.

That’s why I, an intern at Skyline Exhibits, attended the Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) trade show in Minneapolis to find out what attracted and detracted a new-comer from booths and displays within a show. Here are a few tips to make sure you aren’t losing too many customers before you even have the chance to speak with them:

Don’t Cut Corners
We all want to save money, but if this is taken too far it gets in your way of ever making any to begin with. There were certain companies at the MD&M trade show that were hurting themselves by having cluttered cords, wrinkled pop-up banners, leaning displays, and other cheap-looking characteristics in their models. This immediately lowered my impression of the company due to the lack professionalism. It’s important to keep your budget in mind, without losing sight of your company’s image in the process.

Remember the Little Things
I was surprisingly drawn to businesses with little intricacies that added to their booth designs. One I remember clearly was a thin, blue LED trim around the main table of a company that had a pretty impressive display. Although the entire display was more than adequate, this small part of their booth stuck in my mind and made me remember their company. Obviously budget plays into this aspect, but try to implement design details to help your booth stand out whenever possible.

Consider Using Backlighting
One of the biggest things that stood out to me while at the show was how much of a difference a nicely backlit trade show exhibit design made. It seemed that if done well, it made an entire booth look much more interesting when compared to the surrounding competitors. This could possibly ramp up your prices, but seriously consider this option when looking at simple ways you can make your brand stand out, especially if your booth location is not ideal or you are in a darker area.

Optimize Your Message
You need to find a simple, yet thorough way of showcasing your product. There were some booths that were cluttered with so much information that it was impossible to take in what they truly wanted customers to know. On the other side of things, there were some booths that had blank portions of their back wall or completely blank tables and front desks. Either of these outcomes led to disinterest on my side and can easily be avoided with a simple design. Make sure to focus on including your company name, relevant pictures, and keywords that describe the functions of your business.

Have an Engaging Booth Staff
This one may seem like common sense, but it should still be constantly reminded. There were a few times that the staffing of a company seemed to be bored or tired with their assignment. This wasn’t something that was too much of a bother, but it did result in me second-guessing the company’s quality if they couldn’t even get their staff to be attentive to prospects while staffing.

Above All Have a Backup Plan
Things in life rarely go perfectly, but this is even truer in the trade show industry. There will inevitably be a time in which a part of your booth breaks, is lost, or stops working correctly. It’s important in these situations to have a plan of action. This could be replacement parts, an emergency number, or a way to fix what has been damaged. There weren’t many things worse than to see a company that was clearly struggling to market their brand because of a show day disaster. Try to start the planning process of your booth very early so you have time to make backup plans as well.

It is not uncommon to run into a problem along the way of a trade show no matter how much you work for perfection, but it’s crucial to plan to avoid as many of these issues as possible. With these variables in the back of your mind, you’ll finally have the opportunity to come face-to-face with your customers and build a sales relationship.

Booth Staffing Tips & Tools for the Digital Era Reference Guide

Trade shows have been a consistent resource for generating leads and connecting with customers for many years. It’s one of the only ways to gain face-to-face access in one convenient location to a large proportion of your target clients.

This reference guide will provide insight into the changes in trade show booth staffing, what’s causing the shift, and how to best prepare your team. Your staffers – by engaging, qualifying and capturing potential customers – represent your best opportuntity for success on the trade show floor.

About the Author

Collin Brown participated in a mentorship program with Skyline Exhibits in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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