Top Tradeshow Tips

March 20, 2018   /   by  Diane Callihan

Make the Most of Your Tradeshow Experience

Our Roger West team, along with our fine friends from Digital Brew, recently returned from HIMSS 2018 in Vegas. It was a great show and we met a lot of awesome people, so the jetlag and hangovers were all worth it.

Despite the fact that they say, “Whatever Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”, we thought it might be helpful to share what we’ve learned from preparing and participating in a big trade show for those of you who might be new to exhibiting.

So here are our top tradeshow tips:

  1. Plan ahead. There are a ton of logistical components to exhibiting in a trade show – you’ll need to get your booth space reserved, procure electricity, Wifi, (maybe even carpet!), make travel accommodations, reserve flights, get a booth built, designed, and shipped, ship monitors or flatscreens, create any marketing collateral, promotional items, giveaways, business cards, online resources, videos, presentations, fliers, etc. Give yourself as much leeway as possible and start working on the show at least 4-6 months in advance.
  2. Have a hook. These trade shows are huge and the competition is fierce. Come up with an idea that stops people in their tracks and brings them into your booth. Maybe you have an unusual or valuable giveaway. Maybe you want to lure them in with the smell of fresh popcorn (ahhhh!). Maybe you are a gifted sword-swallower. Whatever your idea is, make sure it draws a crowd.
  3. Brand everything. Establish a branded look and feel that carries over everything at the show. Prior to creating any collateral, we made a design board that showed all of our materials with the same design theme. For us this included the booth graphics, popcorn machine wrapper, popcorn cups, t-shirts, journals, signage, business cards - even a promotional video. Using the same look and feel consistently throughout the show makes your brand more memorable. (Funny, bright orange t-shirts also helped. “I’D CLICK THAT.”)

  4. Collect leads. Don’t forget why you’re there. Whether you use a bar code scanner to collect people’s contact info or are just collecting business cards in a fishbowl (the good old-fashioned way), make sure you get info on everyone you talk to. If you can find the time during the show, take notes on each lead, so when you follow-up later, you can remember what they were interested in. Speaking of which…
  5. Follow up. A discussion at a trade show doesn’t usually land immediate sales – it just provides you with an introduction to a prospect. After the show, you need to reconnect with these prospects, nurture them, and work into turning them into sales over time. Consider setting up a drip campaign that provides your leads with helpful resources that they expressed an interest in. Connect with them on LinkedIn, drop them an email and work to set up calls or face-to-face meetings to continue your conversation from the show. Have a system in place so you don’t let too much time lapse before you reconnect.

Perhaps the best advice is to relax, have fun and enjoy talking to people. Tradeshows offer a rare opportunity in today’s web-based world to actually talk to potential customers in person. Be your true charming self, share your passion for your business, and good things will happen.

Meanwhile, if you need help planning for your next trade show, we can help with that. Let’s Talk.

Diane Callihan

Diane Callihan

With more than 20 years of experience writing for some of the country’s top brands, Diane helped to shape Roger West’s content strategy, lead generation, and PR efforts as Director of Marketing. She currently serves as President of Callihan Content Creation.