This guest post was written by contributor James Trotter, of Colour Graphics, a display graphics company based in the UK. 

You are all ready for your first trade show event. You have roller banners galore, and you are poised, brimming with confidence that every aspect of your booth or stand will be a success.

However, many people come away from their first trade show feeling despondent––it was not the success that they assumed it would be. There are many reasons why this happens, but it is true to say that many failures come under one umbrella: failing to plan. Here are 6 top tips for making a trade show marketing plan.

Creating an Effective Trade Show Marketing Plan

1. Closing

Every business, from the start-up to the global corporation (and everything in between) needs revenue. At any trade show, your team should have their eyes firmly fixed on the prize: garnering insight, interest, leads and sales.

You might think you have the gift of the gab, but do you really? Have some one-liners pre-planned, and make sure that you and all your team know the bottom line for any products and services you are selling. Identify opportunities and act on them!

trade show marketing plan

2. Humour

Being comical is a funny thing; it can be memorable and engaging, but it can also be offensive and off-putting. There is a fine line between being funny and being offensive.

But when used in good taste, humor is a great way of attracting attention. There are some great examples of when companies have used tongue-in-cheek humor to create interest in their stand or trade show presence.

The company Central Desktop is all about clouding computing and software. At a recent trade show, they had a staff member in costume, inviting people to “take a look in the cloud.” Perfectly pitched, non-offensive, and great for raising a smile (and their profile). The same kind of thing can work for your wholesale business, whatever industry you may be in. Being controversial can seriously backfire so tread carefully!

3. Budget

There is a difference between economical and cheap. No trade show stand should be so expensive that is draws significantly on your bank account.

Trade shows are not vacations. They are hard work and they’re exhausting (if you do them right). Spending thousands on gimmicks is not the way forward, but spending money on a team of sales staff who can engage people, sell and create interest in the business is the key.

If you don’t have a staff tea, and you’re running a small business, then the mantle falls to you. Dig in, and get talking to people.

4. Work out your message

Another aspect of trade show planning that many newbies forget or remain unaware of is what their message actually is. On one hand, you have your brand, logo, and tagline. When someone asks ‘what do you do?’ you have your answer ready.

Great. That’s half the battle. Take it further by having a written plan of what it is you want to achieve from the trades how. How are you going to introduce your brand and your business to passers-by? What is it do you want attendees to remember about you?

5. Goals

In your trade show marketing plan, remember to strategize your goals. Lack of preparation and planning on this score has led to some dismal, wasted performances.

You may want to think about some SMART objectives, for example. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound are five great criteria to use when thinking about what it is you need and want from a trade show.

This is only a starting point however, as once you know what you want to achieve, you need to think outside the box. Be bold and creative in how to attract people’s attention.

6. Personality

And finally, approaching a trade show with a robotic response will literally get you nowhere. Your business’s personality needs to shine through. This is essentially your brand; if you are a happy, young and funky company, your trade show booth needs to reflect this. If you are higher end in terms of service or product, your stand needs to match that image.

Never head onto the trade show floor without a plan. Prepare for each and every single show, learning lessons from past ones and making changes accordingly. Be organized and prepared for the unexpected. And finally, every now and then, take a break, get some air and have a walk around to see what the others are doing. You can learn so much from those around you.

How do you plan for your trade shows? Let us know in the comments.

Author Bio:

James Trotter is a marketing assistant for Colour Graphics. The information in this article was provided by www.colourgraphics.com. For more trade show marketing tips, visit their blog.