10 tips for maximising your impact at a trade show

Trade shows can be a fantastic marketing event for your brand. They can be hideously expensive, yet yield a high return on investment. The trick is to plan and get it right first time. With trade shows, there are no second chances - once the day is gone, it's gone, and you will find the day will fly by far too quickly.

To get the most of a trade show you need to engage as many of the attendees as possible. This is about making your stand bigger, better, and more attractive than those of your fellow exhibitors. Time is short and you cant waste a single minute.
Here are ten ways to make your stand attract that all-important attention:

1) Clear, engaging exhibition stands and banners are a must. Your banners need to tell attendees what you are all about. If they dont know, they wont approach you. If theyre not interested in what you do, then they wont waste their or your precious time. Give the attendees a good idea about what you do and let interested people find you.

2) Have an attractive, stylish stand that people want to visit. Exhibition stands can be a bit twee and traditional. So why not stand out with some contemporary exhibition furniture, which can also double as a welcome resting place. Think sleek, clean lines and create a stylish ambience.

3) Have plenty of literature ready. You dont have to have lots and lots of different leaflets as too many will confuse visitors, but having a good supply of two or three of your company brochures and leaflets will mean that every visitor has something to take away to learn more about what you do.

4) Freebies! If you dont have something to give away then you may as well not bother exhibiting. You can guarantee your competitors will at least have some free sweets or drinks to attract visitors. If you dont have something - sweets, branded pens, T-shirts - then youre missing a trick.

5) Get a good position. Some stands will be in a better position for attracting traffic than others. Book early and make sure you get a prime location. This could be next to the presentation room (or even the toilets), or on the end of an aisle. Check the exhibition layout in advance and if youre not happy with your position, ask for a better one.

6) Have a prize draw. Having a nice prize on display to give away will attract people. Make giving you their email address a condition of entry, and you also have a nice mailing list to use after the trade show. A competition which sparks the attendees imagination is good but even a standard fill in the form type draw is better than nothing.

7) Have a gimmick. A game of skill with a leader board will attract attention and give people something to talk about. Don�t be afraid to use fancy dress if you can find an angle. No-one talks about the stall where nothing happens and everyone is dressed in suits. Find something that will get people talking.
8) Smile! Seriously, exhibiting is a human process and no-ones going to approach you if you look tired, dejected, and not happy to be there. It can be a long, tiring day so keep yourself going with bottled water and snacks, and smile. You can always be miserable once youre back home.

9) Pre-publicity is essential. If you can tell people in advance that you are going to be exhibiting, they will make an effort to seek you out. Use social media, your company newsletter, and the trade shows publications to spread the word. Dont forget to pre-schedule some social media updates for the trade show as you may be too busy on the day.

10) Take samples of your product. If you have a product then telling people about it isnt enough. Let attendees have a play, or take one away so they can try it later. A goody bag including your product and a company brochure with all your contact details on is a winner.

And is the shoe on the other foot? This article from Sage gives attendees some great tips on making the most of their time at trade shows. Give it a read. If you can see trade shows from the perspective of those who are planning to attend, you can use it to your advantage.

Cheryl Luzet
Wadada