How to Stand Out at a Trade Show as the Little Guy

Going to a trade show isn’t just about getting your name and brand out into the world (although, that’s part of it, undoubtedly). Trade shows provide you with ample opportunity to learn about industry trends, get inspired about your next service or product, network with other business leaders, and keep tabs on what your competitors are doing. Not to mention, the companies who are exhibiting may also give out discounts to attendees – possibly giving you a sweet deal on a product or service that will enhance your business process.
However, one question you may ask yourself is how do you stand out in a trade show environment where everybody is vying for attention?
In this article, we’ve gathered some tips to help you stand out from the teeming masses. All it takes is some attention to detail, investment, and thoughtfulness.
Negotiate a Location
Location, location, location. Not only is this phrase true for real estate – it’s also true for trade shows. For example, an ideal spot is by the entrance or by a food venue where people are likely to congregate and hang out. Make sure you get on a jump on this early and find the exact people who are in charge of these details.
Book Everything Early
When your team arrives at the trade show location, you are going to want everybody to be focused on the task at hand – making an amazing, interactive booth display. What you don’t want is your team scrambling to book hotels or accommodations late. This creates stress and distraction that might throw the entire trade show experience out of whack.
Book early, plan early, and give everyone on your team advance notice of any changes.
If you’re not great at planning, consider looking into corporate event planning companies to help you get all the details nailed down. By outsourcing these travel tasks, you can get down to focusing on your trade show strategy and game plan.
Coordinate Your Team’s Dress Code
If you’re going to show up to a trade show, you will want your team to be easily identifiable. Research has shown that wearing similar outfits increases brand recognition as well as customer satisfaction. With that said, don’t try to stand out too hard with your clothing. Whatever you wear should be business appropriate and on-brand.
Create a Social Media Presence
Before the event happens, spend time building an online presence. Find some unique hashtags and reach out to clients to build anticipation before the trade show.
Two Words: Free Food
Happy Business PeopleHumans love freebies. Humans also love food. If you put those two elements together, you’ve got a winning combination on your hands. Stick to non-messy finger foods and alcohol, if allowed. Candy is always a go-to, wine or beer are great, and small charcuterie items like cubes of cheese and meats are ideal. The idea is to make people stop long enough at your booth with some smart marketing tactics so you can quickly go into your 30-second elevator pitch.
Pro tip: Order more food or bring more food than you think you will need so you don’t run out. Caterers helping out at trade shows are likely already overwhelmed by orders from exhibitors so it might be hours until you can get a restock.
Carefully Plan Out Your Visuals
Here are some tips for planning out the visuals of your booth:

  • Use a maximum of three bright colors: Any more and your booth becomes both overwhelming and distracting
  • Integrate a video: If a prospect walks up to your booth and all team members are busy, a short 30-second video with your elevator pitch gives them the chance to get familiar with your product or service before you actually talk to them
  • Use QR codes: If you can incorporate functioning QR codes in your visual display, this provides a fun, interactive element to your booth.

In Summary
Trade shows might be a little overwhelming for a small company. After all, you’re vying for attention at a trade show where big hitters tend to have a big budget to blow their booth displays out of the water. But with a little creativity and delicious food (if the venue allows), you will be surprised how much face time you can get with prospects.

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