You just got an invitation to participate in a trade show and are considering the offer. Trade shows, table top expositions, and organization gatherings are all great places to display your services and products. Space can be very inexpensive, starting around $100. and increase to over $1,000. depending on the venue. Before you decide whether to purchase booth or table space, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of attending?” Do you want to have attendees place orders, increase your mailing list, meet you face to face, or sell your product at the show?
Whatever your reason, you need to prepare
Every trade show will provide vendor information regarding booth size, signage and backdrop, availability of tables, skirting, chairs, electricity, WI-FI, dimensions, and a layout of booth spaces. Read this information carefully and be prepared to purchase items as needed. Don’t assume – always verify what’s provided and DON’T miss deadlines.
YOUR BOOTH: The object is to draw visitors INTO your space. Where you place your table and chairs can invite prospective customers, or provide an ultimate barrier to engaging with you. Consider how your booth can handle traffic and provide visual, engaging marketing material that will attract and retain interest if you are distracted. DON’T stand behind your table, as the table becomes a barrier. DO stand next to or to the side of your table. I’m not a fan of sitting, but if you do need a break, a stool that puts you at eye level, is better than slumping behind a table any day.
DISPLAY MATERIALS: Here is where preparing in advance is key. You will need to “stage” your booth. Must haves include brochures, business cards, table top or floor sized banner, products, sell sheets, giveaways, and don’t forget your MAILING LIST SIGN UP SHEET.
VISUALS: Consider using videos or image slide shows, PowerPoint loops, or virtual albums to entertain visitors should you be with another potential customer. Screens should change frequently to grab attention.
HELP!!!!!: Really, I mean help for your booth. Will you have someone to help you set up and tear down, give you a break to walk around and chat with other vendors, or allow you some down time (especially needed if the show is long or held over multiple days)? You need to remain fresh, so if it means calling in extra help, it may be well worth it.
Oh, and one final thought……
BOOTH ETIQUETTE: I visit lots of trade shows and table top venues and hate to see businesses who have invested in booth space that goes unnoticed. Here are my biggest booth turn offs:
In newspaper jargon it’s called “above the fold”, where top interest stories live and where every business and event wants to be. Getting that coveted position can challenging for small businesses who have no staff on hand to develop relationships with the press.
To get your information into the right hands, it starts with a press release. I have to admit, I don’t enjoy writing press releases. Of all the marketing tasks I do — newsletters, social media, blogs, video, and coaching, creating a press release for a client or event I’m working on gets put to the bottom of my “to do” list. It’s not that I can’t write one, it’s that I never know if I’m reaching the right source or merely sending the message into the abyss, hoping for it to stick against the wall.
This week I decided to brush up on my press release writing skills and attended a workshop called “Press Ready 101″, hosted by Easthampton City Arts. I especially wanted to go because it was led by a local journalist, Sarah Platanitis, Here was a chance to listen to what journalists want from us when pitching a story. Most of the attendees were artists, interested in getting better at the marketing and business side of their craft, some looking for local help, others aiming for national exposure.
Here are some of my takeaways:
Self-promotion can feel uncomfortable and it’s sometimes helpful to work with someone who can help you manage the marketing and event planning details. Preparing in advance is key to a successful event, product launch or new service offering. So, here’s hoping to see you “above the fold” real soon!
Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources.