Trade shows allow you to come face-to-face with business professionals and would-be buyers within your industry; these events are an amazing place to network with movers and shakers while learning new tricks of the trades from keynote speakers and other discussion sessions.

If you’re considering making a move to represent your business and brand at a trade show then consider these five different tips to maximize your results and effort.

1. Setup an Awesome Booth

trade show booth
photo credit: Chocolate And Steel

The booth needs to be awesome if you want to catch the attention of those passing through the trade show floor. You want your presentation to jump out at the individuals but also have a clear message as to what they can expect if they come up for additional information.

First, do your research and find companies that provide great services for building trade show booths and talk with them about creating a unique design for your brand. Second, reach out to a designer to create specs and have them sent to the booth company. Third, come to a fair price and then use a trade show shipping company to get everything over in time for the show. Fourth, get everything setup and stock it to the brim with excellent marketing material.

Treat the booth like a book – they’re going to judge on first glance so you may as well go all out in order to grab their attention and get them wanting more.

2. Give out Swag

swags
photo credit: John Biehler

Swag, not to be confused with the overused expression, are items and other miscellaneous freebies a business would hand out during an event. For example, it’s common to see pens, bags, and stickers as a regular staple when browsing through a tradeshow floor.

For a measly investment of about $100 (or less) you can put your name in the pocket of those visiting your booth. Use search engines to source companies that do custom printing on these trade show items and you can quickly get your message out to nearly everyone on the floor if you push hard enough – just make sure to show your website and contact details!

3. Work with Energetic Individuals

rcs trade show
photo credit: Kris Krug

Nobody wants to visit a booth and feel as if they’ve stepped into the DMV; people are coming because there was something about your booth (and its marketing) that caught their eye – you’ve got their attention and so now you’ve got to keep it!

Bring only those individuals within your company that are extremely enthusiastic for talking about its products and services. You want the individual that can flow with a conversation no matter how the small talk. These individuals will hype the brand and what you have to offer which may spur an immediate deal or at least leave a lasting impression with the visitor in which they’ll feel compelled to do additional research when they have the time.

4. Mingle (especially in the Halls)

trade show mingle
photo credit: S C Hargis Photography

The keynotes, discussions, and trade floor isn’t the only location to pick up contacts and represent your brand; you should include any opportunity to connect with other individuals and share your sales pitch.

The hallway at many convention halls are some of the prime areas for doing so because it’s less hectic, at times, and you can dip off to a corner to get down to business. People also happen to be relaxed when they’re off the floor which makes for a great time to catch their attention. Just make sure you get them a business card before they walk off, though.

5. Don’t Forget the Online Element

inbound 2013 landing page
Inbound 2013 marketing event landing page

Once you’ve landed the interests of those coming to your booth or talking to you when wandering about you need to provide some sort of value for those willing to take the additional step and get in touch with your business – this should be through the clever use of targeted Web pages on your site.

Have your web developer create a specific landing page for those discovering your site via contact at the trade show. Consider repeating your pitch they’ve heard while on the floor and include an additional incentive to get in touch such as a gift, free quote, or coupon.

You can even track this strategy by using unique URL’s printed on your business cards and booth marketing materials; track the URL and you will be able to tell how effective your presentation was during the event and have the ability to rework strategies for the next.

Don’t forget to handout feedback forms as well, this is important. Getting people to fill out feedback forms will give you an understanding of how your marketing team did on the day and will let you know if any changes need to take place, people are very truthful on anonymous forms, they are very blunt!