35 Trade Fair Tips and Suggestions

35 Trade fair tips and suggestions for maximizing your time attending or exhibiting at trade fairs or business conferences.

Some of below ideas about attending or participating in a trade show or business conference are rather obvious but others might be new to you. Please take the time to search around. We hope that you find some new and useful information about trade fairs and business conference strategies in this list of 35 strategy tips and suggestions.

#1 Set clear goals for your trade fair or business conference adventure:

Setting clear goals and objectives for what you are trying to accomplish at a trade fair or business conference is critical to your success. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? Is the primary purpose to get as many leads as possible or is this a branding event? Are you seeking out that one rain-maker client? Be clear as to what you want to achieve at the trade fair or business conference well in advance and plan for it.

#2 Choose the right staff for the right hours:

It's very important to make sure your "A" team is in place during peak hours of the trade fair or business conference. Ensure that you have your best, brightest, and most energetic staff ready at the right time. This means your "B" team opens and closes.

#3 More information isn't always best:

In most cases presenting less information is better at a trade fair or business conference. Information overload can scare people away. Too many handouts and too much clutter doesn't help you. Use clean images with a direct, clear message to make a strong first impression.

#4 Gimmicks are good:

Getting extra traffic to notice your booth at a trade fair or business conference will always be a challenge. With so many booths and so much floor space how do you get the most volume of traffic by your booth? It might sound corny to some but trade show games and contests do work. Things to consider: Prize wheels, money machines, scratch cards and prize vaults.

#5 Giveaway and promotional items will draw a crowd:

Will there be a few hundred attendees or a few 10's of thousands at the trade fair or business conference? Consider giving away two types of giveaways. One cheaper and widely distributed and another for contacts you are investing more time in.

#6 You have to Tweet:

Really, you have to start Tweeting. Almost everyone heading off to a trade fair or business conference is doing pre-event research. This means that they are searching tweets. Be there. Be engaged. Start following your prospects for the trade fair or business conference well before you get there. Re-tweet the blog postings and press releases of the companies that are your sales prospect targets. Re-tweeting is a great way to get noticed. Making connections before the event will allow you to hit the ground running. While at the trade fair or business conference event, Tweet about your next presentation and the big crowd at the last one. Tweet afterwords about the new customers or contacts you've just made!

#7 Dress for Success:

Unless you are Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page or Sergey Brin, you have to wear business attire at every trade fair or business conference. Period.

#8 Sorry, no sitting:

If you sit down while you are manning a booth at a trade fair or business conference no one will approach you. So don't do it. You might as well go home.

#9 Spend more time listening than talking:

Every time you speak you stop listening. Your purpose at a trade fair or business conference is to quickly prequalify leads and set up a follow-up. Don't give your standard sales pitch. Engage the prospect. Listen to what they need and you will be further along in either establishing a new relationship or saving your vocal cords for more qualified sales prospects.

#10 Banner Stands are popular for a very good reason:

At trade fairs and business conferences banner stands are popular because they are extremely affordable, lightweight, and can be set up quickly - even outdoors.

#11 Don't go to the wrong trade show or business conference:

It happens. Really. You've spent your company's money and your time going to a trade fair or business conference somewhere where you will NEVER find any customers. Do your research carefully. Narrow down where concentrations of your customers might be by speaking to some in advance.

#12 Go as an Attendee first:

Before diving into exhibiting at a specific trade fair or business conference it's best to have visited as an attendee. Walk around and see if the visitors match your profile goals. Look at the exhibitors displays. You can still make lots of contacts and your bosses might jump at the idea of saving some money too ;-)

#13 Social Media IS your primary communication platform:

If you tell people at a trade fair or business conference that you don't know how to use a telephone they would rightly think you are, well, not someone worth doing any business with. It's the same with Social Media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Communication with clients and prospects STARTS with social media. You have to use all three. You need to feel as comfortable with social media as you do with using email or even, your telephone.

#14 Expect more, smaller events to choose from:

Micro conferences & trade shows both virtual and real world are increasingly replacing the major exhibitions, conferences and congresses. They are cheaper, more flexible, and more tightly in line with specific niche corporate strategies.

#15 Renting a display is an option:

Starting with a rental display for a trade fair or business conference is a great way to start. It's far easier to change the graphics on your display than to buy a new display. It's best to test drive a car before you buy. Displays can be very expensive. If you are not planning on driving a lot it's best to rent.

#16 Lead generation is not a reliable measure of success:

Quantity of leads doesn't matter at trade fairs or business conferences. ROI does. This means quality of contacts is more important than quantity. Just having a box full of business cards doesn't pay the bills. Qualify. Qualify. Qualify.

#17 Lead tracking is critical:

Lead conversion tracking is critical for your ROI at a trade fair or business conference. Many software solutions are available to track and monitor the progress of sale conversion from contact to lead to sale.

#18 Success takes a variety of forms:

Attendance at trade fairs and business conferences have a variety of intrinsic values beyond lead generation. Branding, interaction with industry professionals, public relations, are all key benefit areas achieved by participating in trade fairs and business conferences.

#19 In a consumer show try not to use ready-made displays:

Readymade displays generally don't have the drawing power to attract visitors at consumer trade fairs. You should consider custom displays that match your product concepts.

#20 Best trade show ideas come from... trade shows:

The trade show and business conference floor is the best place to see the most current and effective booth strategies. That's right, the best trade show or business conference ideas generally will be found at the event you want to participate in. You will get clear insights into your targets' likes and dislikes by looking around and talking to people.

#21 Appetite appeal:

Get a popcorn popping machine and give it away. It's cheap too. It's another corny idea that really does work. People are drawn to fresh popped corn. I suggest baking cookies too but it's a little messy.

#22 How to make your exhibit really stand out:

Most exhibits at trade fairs or business conferences are in space with really high ceilings. Most exhibitors never take the high ground. Get a banner that reaches up as high as you can for greater visibility and stand out.

#23 A little training goes a long way:

It is so easy to waste time at a trade fair or business conference. The time it takes to engage, prequalify and close a lead card should be less than 10 minutes which includes engagement, qualifying, presentation, and close. Your staff needs to practice before hand and be TIMED.

#24 Most leads are never followed:

Managers beware. You need a system in place to measure, track and quantify your ROI because most trade fair and business conference leads are never followed up on by your staff - according to the Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) which says it's nearly 80%!

#25 Ask their name and use it:

Simple things are really important. At trade fairs or business conferences introduce yourself, ask their name and repeatedly use it. Most don't use people name in conversation and it's a very strong way to bond and be remembered.

#26 Younger attendees require a unique approach:

Younger people generally want more personal attention but prefer to be approached AFTER they have decided they want more information at trade fairs or business conferences. Try to read body language and express your awareness of their presence in a non-verbal way. These folks are prequalifying you for an exchange. Remember, this is the texting generation.

#27 Don't forget Buzz:

It's a given that you'll be using social media to communicate both before and after a trade fair or business conference. What you communicate is critically important. You need to have something for people to talk about, share, and discuss with others. You can plant the seeds in press releases and on your blog. You can keep the buzz alive with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

#28 "The quickest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want":

I am not sure who said this first but I'll repeat it again anyway, "The quickest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want". Put yourself in the prospect shoes at a trade fair or business conference. Think like the prospect and try to really listen to what is being asked for. It's a great way to develop relationships and insights even if it doesn't lead to an immediate sale at the trade fair or business conference.

#29 Don't underestimate the value of networking:

Build your referral system and send leads to your friends on the floor. You'll start noticing opportunities coming your way too. If you've done your ground work you'll know a lot about what is being presented at other booths. Don't hesitate to drop names and pass contacts along.

#30 Leave the salesy pitch at home:

Pushy, bullying sales tactics don't work at trade fairs and business conferences. Attendees are looking for professional relationships and reliable partners.

#31 Be quick to disqualify:

Your time is expensive and important while at a trade fair or business conference. You should have clear goals and criteria for who you pursue as a qualified prospect. Focus your time carefully and have pre-defined qualifying guidelines.

#32 Ask for the follow-up:

Always organize a follow-up date for a qualified lead while at the trade fair or business conference. Whether it's setting a date for a follow-up call or related to sending some follow-up materials, you must plant the seeds for a continuing discussion. People will be much more likely to keep you in the forefront of their thinking once they know that a follow-up is pre-arranged.

#33 Prepare a trade show check list:

Preparation for a trade show or business conference is imperative. You must set goals and objectives, prepare your staff, deliver and set up a booth, and pack for the show. Novice exhibitors generally underestimate the amount of planning, time, and costs.

#34 Hold an online contest to increase your visitors:

Use all your social media tools to conduct a pre-trade fair or business conference online contest. It's an excellent way to get some buzz and get people to your booth. Prospects will need to drop by your booth to see who's won!

#35 Don't party hard the night before:

I know it's hard. You're excited about being on the road and your bosses are paying for the trip to the trade fair or business conference. It's the worst possible time to have a hangover.