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Have you ever done a trade show or expo?

Exhibiting at tradeshows and expos are a great way to get new clients for your business.  These events can also be a terrible waste of money.  I’ve been doing trades showsfor the past 3 years and have had my fair share of bombs and success. That’s why I’m sharing 14 keys to killing it at trade shows to ensure your success.

Choose The Right Tradeshow

You want to make sure that your tradeshow is well attended by your ideal client. In order to ensure this, you’ll need to identify who you are targeting with your product. If you are selling a product for natural hair, then a boat show is not where you are going to find your ideal client. However, shows that center around multicultural women would be a better fit.

To help determine if an expo is right for you, ask the trade show organizers for their media kit before committing to the event. This should give you enough information to decide if the show will be busy, if the attendees will have enough time to visit your booth, and if it is attended by your ideal client. If you want to see what a tradeshow media kit looks like, check out this one I attended two years ago. Pinners Media Kit


Pick The Right Booth Space

Even if you pick the right tradeshow, your booth space plays a large part in determining your success. Most tradeshows allow you to choose a booth space and charge according to your choice. There’s a reason for that. High traffic areas are more profitable for you so you should request a space with a lot of foot traffic. These are near the expo entrance, food, corners and main walkways. Avoid spaces in the back left corner. In the U.S. we naturally turn to the right when entering grocery stores and event centers.  That means the worst place for your booth to be is in the back, left corner.  Also, avoid tables near your competition. If you’re selling candles, make clear to organizers that you don’t want to be anywhere near other candle vendors.


Identify Your Goal

Do you want to sell stuff? Do you want to collect contact information to follow up? Do you want people to come into your office? Do you want to encourage event attendees to engage with you on social media?  Once you have an expo goal, you can craft the appropriate plan to achieve it.


Targeted Trade Show Offer

I often craft a targeted offer for every tradeshow that we go to. This means we deeply discount an introductory service, or provide pricing that is only available for purchase at the  tradeshows. Here’s how it works for us. We raffle a Weight Loss Package and also offer body wrap packages for sale at a discounted rate of $25 with a $200 value. The offer is too good for many to pass up.  You can do the same with you introductory services or overstocked products.


Run An “Everyone Wins” Raffle

Free stuff is a surefire way to get engage people at your booth.  When I sent our marketing team out to expos we always had a jar where attendees would enter for a Free Weight Loss Package for 2.  The package included a sampling of our services and a consultation. The trick is that we let everyone win. Yep. We would call all 200 of our entrants and declare them a winner! That way, we were able to introduce almost 400 people to our service and upsell our $5,000 weight loss package. Think about how you can do something similar in your business. Can you raffle a free resume review? Or 15 minute consultation? Or give away a free course?


Mind Your Setup

Weight Loss Set Up

Our tradeshows set up includes chairs.  This was not for our staff but for tradeshow guests. After walking around a big hall all day, an invitation to sit can be too good to pass up. Other ways to ensure that your booth stands out is to include carpet flooring, banners, a table cloth wth your logo, and table decor.


Presentation Is Everything

Be inviting. What does that mean? It means look clean, comfortable, and attractive. It also means don’t hide behind your booth. Stand in front of your table. Smile, compliment people and ask them relevant questions. For example, “Hi there. Enjoying the expo? You can’t leave without entering to win a free Weight Loss Package. C’mon, it will take 30 seconds.”


Give Out Free Samples

This works really well with food. One of the companies I worked for sells a high-end protein shake for weight loss. Often these medical grade shakes taste horrible. The doctors at the events we showcased at would often come by our booth, ask us how the shake tastes, hear our answer and walk away. It wasn’t until we invested in a shake machine and started giving out samples, that we were able to see an increase in leads and new accounts resulting from the events.


Do The Weird Stuff

What’s weird about your business? I’m serious. My marketing team would often exhibit a Brain Tap headphone that guests could try right at our booth. Guests would lie doesn in an anti-gravity chair and put on these white headphones that blink lights and lull you into a meditative state. It was cool and often caused a crowd around our table with lots of curious event attendees.  What also worked well were screenings, and quizzes. Think about unique experiences your particular business can bring to an expo to stand out. If you do career services maybe create a “Will you Get The Job” quiz.

What also works well are screenings and quizzes. We used an HRV machine to measure the brain health of attendees in order to initiate conversations about our health programs. Think about unique experiences your particular business can bring to an expo to stand out. If you do career services maybe create a “Will you Get The Job” quiz.


Leave the Booth

If your booth is getting slow traffic, don’t be afraid to abandon ship. I mean grab your clipboard and walk around the expo center. Take names, introduce yourself, hand out cards, and invite people to visit your booth. This is also a great way to scope out the competition and get new ideas from other booths in the venue.


Ask To Speak

Some expos are coupled with a conference or a stage that features performances and speakers. Inquire with your event organizers to see if there is an opportunity to speak. This is a great way to engage a large crowd and invite them to visit your booth to take advantage of your special pricing or free offer.


Get In The Bag

Is there a goodie bag given to each attendee? Ask the event organizers if you can include your company flyers with your special trade show prices as one of the bag stuffers. If there is a fee, try to negotiate an expo wide prize.  Many times tradeshows offer raffles for all attendees. If you include your product or services as a part of the raffle deal, you can get in the bag or on promo material at no charge to you.


Craft A Follow – Up Plan

What are you going to do with all those leads? Are you going to add them to  your email list? Will you call them all individually? Come up with a follow-up plan that will help you make the most of your money. I always encourge my clients to call leads within one business day to let them know that they won the raffle. It’s best to get in contact when the event is still fresh in the attendee’s mind. You can also send an email with an extended special offer or a coupon code if you didn’t do a raffle.  I also like to include a picture of myself and the booth to refresh the memories of the event attendees.


Keep Stats

Some tradeshows bomb. You don’t want to attend these expos again. That’s why it’s important to keep a record of your success at these events. In our area we got so many emails about different bridal shows that we attended. As staff rotated through the years, it is only our stats from the years before that kept us from signing up for a sucky show multiple times.  So if you attend an event, keep an account of the Event Name, Event Organizers, and # of leads or sales you get. This way you can analyze the results when comparing profitable tradeshows or choosing to attend a tradeshow again the next year.


Hope that helped. If you have a question that I didn’t address above, leave a comment below and I’ll see if I can help!


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