Starting from Scratch: 3 Tips for Your First Trade Show


For many businesses, trade shows are simply not part of the marketing strategy. We know as well as anyone that exhibiting at a trade show takes time, money, and careful planning. But for businesses who have figured out how to minimize the money and time spent, and maximize the leads and customers they gain through their efforts, it's a no-brainer: attending a trade show with the right exhibit can be hugely beneficial.

If your business could benefit from exhibiting at a trade show (and we think it could!), there is still a lot of work between you and that perfect display. We've put together some tips specifically geared toward first-time exhibitors and those who might not be sure where to start. 

Plan Your Gimmick

Prize wheel gimmickOf course those of us with good taste cringe away from an obvious gimmick or marketing ploy, but the fact is that they do work at trade shows! You'll be in a sea of booths and anything that helps you stand out will be worth the effort (and perhaps the cringe). Giveaways and raffles are standard and work well, especially if you're giving away something significant or unusual. Candy is simple and effective. Even a product demo done in an interesting way can be a gimmick that draws in visitors! Get creative.

Location, Location, Location

Trade show floor planIf you've never been to a trade show before, you might not have a sense of how visitors to the show flow through the space and congregate in certain areas. It can be helpful to try out a few as a visitor before you commit as an exhibitor! You'll find that certain sections of the trade show see more visitors in general, or get more interaction with visitors. When choosing a booth on the floor plan, you'll want to get a booth in one of those areas if at all possible! The entrance to the expo is a good spot, as are booths near the food, bathrooms, demo spaces. Even a major, big-name exhibitor can be a good neighbor if it brings more foot traffic your way!

Sharing is Caring

Sharing trade show boothsIn terms of cost and clout, you may find it hard to get a good booth in a great location at your first show. Don't give up! If you have a close B2B relationship that fits logically into one booth, try going 50/50 on the space. Or recruit a friend that offers services that dovetail with or complement your own. This will obviously help you spread out your costs, but it can also draw in twice the foot traffic, since your booth-mate will be drawing in their contacts and target audience, and you'll be enticing your own. Once they've come in for a closer look or a chat, it's easy to cross-pollinate those leads!

Obviously we've just scratched the surface here – so stay tuned for more tips, tricks and ideas for starting off on the right foot. Get in touch with us or request quotes when it's time to choose your trade show visuals!


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