11 Trade Show Rules of Engagement


Certainly, fewer people are going to trade shows than in the past, but if you find the right one for your market, there may be no better way to meet more people and make a great impression. Trade shows are worth the expense when the right show is chosen. Through these events I have met many clients who I would have never met otherwise.

Here are my rules for participating in trade shows…

1. Make sure that the show is the right audience.  If only a small portion of attendees will be your true prospects, then dont go.

2. Try a local show/smaller show.  Sometimes a regional show has fewer attendees, but may cost less to get into and have better prospects.

3. Find out who is going to the show.  Use social media and searches to find out who has been to the show and what their feelings are about the exhibit hall.

4. Try to find other ways to cut your budget.  If it is the right show, nothing beats making a face to face connection.  To save money take fewer materials.  E-mail pdfs to prospects instead of taking lot of brochures to the show.

5. Don’t waste the opportunity after the show.  Make sure that you follow-up with prospects within 7 days.  Use electronic newsletters and postcards to automate the process.  And, e-stuff is nice, but make a personal connection by phone.  Even if you only get vm, a nice message will make a positive impression.

6. See if an email list of attendees is available after the show.  This can be used to touch base with attendees who didn’t visit your booth.

7. Seek out speaking opportunities at the trade show.  This will increase your visibility and make you exhibit seem more news-worthy.

8. Preview the show as a guest instead of getting an exhibit.  Seeing the exhibits in action may be the best way to see if the show is really right for you and your company.

9. Don’t take too many people.  Hire local talent to assist your key people.  Travel expenses eat into any budget quickly.  Send only your key people and then supplement them with professional local talent who can assist with lead card gathering and small tasks.

10.  Spend the right money at the show.  Invest in an electronic lead system from the conference if possible.  They will keep all of your leads in one place and make sure that the people in the home office will be able to read them when they get back home.  Most systems have a back up so that if you lose the thumb drive after the show, they can send you a replacement of your list.

11. Don’t use premiums, tchotchkes, or swag to attract attention.  Takers of these freebies may only be interested in your swag and not in your message/product.  You’ll save a lot in production costs, shipping, and more.

By guest contributor, Charles Greene III

Charles Greene III has 25 years of trade show experience. As a corporate magician he uses sleight of hand magic to promote his clients’ messages to booth attendees. He also exhibits at trade shows to promote his own company, Corporate Shuffle.

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