Trade Show Tips for Exhibitors: Survival Guide

Mandy Movahhed
June 22, 2015

No matter how many months of planning you put into it, when the day arrives to kick off a big trade show, it can rattle even the most seasoned wholesaler. With big crowds, high energy, and competing agendas, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals. Here are a few trade show tips and tricks to keep you and your team focused and successful.

Trade Show Tips for Exhibitors

1. Prepare yourself, not just your booth:

While of course it’s important to make sure you’re well equipped on the business end of things, it is equally important to make sure you are taking care of yourself during the show. Trade shows can be long, chaotic and stressful if you are ill prepared. We’ve come up with a quick list of tricks to keep you looking and feeling your best, so you can spend more time concentrating on leads and sales:

  • Pack yourself a survival kit: As a team, you will probably bring a first aid kit, a cleaning kit, and office supply kit. But you may want to bring a few things for yourself as well: this could include things like a portable charger (we feel so strongly about this that we even wrote a whole post on it), Ibuprofen, eye drops, hand sanitizer, snacks, and any other personal items to get you through the day. We aren’t talking a suitcase here, just a small bag you can tuck away so when you’re feeling like you’ve hit that afternoon plateau or if you’ve got a headache coming on, you’re prepared.
  • Stay Hydrated: This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is easy to forget to get your 8 glasses a day when you are constantly on your feet networking. Make sure you make an effort to eat well and always keep a water bottle handy.
  • Wear the right shoes: While you want to look your best, you’ll also be on your feet all day meeting and greeting. Don’t limit your sales and networking potential because your feet hurt too badly to walk around the exhibition hall.

2. Come up with a timeline for each day:

As important as it is to have trade show goals, they are useless unless you have a plan to achieve them. A great way to do this is to create a timeline for each day and break it down.

  • Factor in the commute: Chances are, if you are arriving and leaving at peak hours, you will lose time on the floor to long cab lines and rush hour traffic. If you can, plan to arrive early, opt for a hotel closer to the exhibition center (even if it costs a little more), and spend less time commuting to and from the show. This will maximize the amount of time you spend on the floor, rather than traveling and setting up.
  • Keep your goals in mind: Before you get to the event, research other attendees, identify your targets and come up with a strategy on how to reach them. Whether it’s blocking out a certain amount of time to spend walking the floor, holding demonstrations or building connections and capturing leads, these timeframes don’t have to be set in stone, but a schedule will help you stick to your goals. Hold a quick meeting with your team each morning to go over the schedule and reaffirm your plan for that day.

3. Get Creative:

We are all looking for those “out of the box” ideas that will make your booth stand out. It takes creativity to get ahead of the competition. Here are a few ideas on how to stand out from the crowd and keep the energy up at your booth:

  • Ask questions: Instead of hammering your pitch at people, try to spark a conversation. Go beyond, “Hi, how are you doing?” Instead, think of talking points about your product and come up with ways to work them into interesting questions. Have a brainstorming session with your team and come up with a list of good opening lines and engaging questions. People will be more inclined to chat with you if they feel like the conversation goes both ways.
  • Plan a party: There will probably be an array of events happening around the trade show. Get in on the action. Rent a room or host a cocktail hour at a local restaurant for after show hours. Hand out invitations at your booth to potential leads. You will get them in a relaxed atmosphere and it gives you a chance to build rapport.  Don’t forget to use Linkedin every night. It is important to solidify connections when they are fresh in your mind.

Other trade show tips and tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below! For our trade show preparation checklist, click here.