Few things light a fire inside a marketer’s soul quite like a trade show. What could be better than getting out of the office and spending some quality time showing off your company’s capabilities or products, while networking with a bunch of interesting people? You might even get to take in the sights and sounds of an exotic location while you’re at it! Trade shows are an incredibly effective way to connect with prospective clients, develop new leads, and get a beat on what the competition is up to. That is, they can be all that and more, but only if you create an effective trade show presence – one that’s inviting and informative and impressive.   

Most of us think of a trade show as the time spent in the exhibit hall. If success is your goal – and it’s a pretty safe bet that it is – you need to flip that mindset on its ear and adopt a broader view that incorporates everything from selecting where you want to exhibit to deciding what your booth should look like and preparing the people who will be staffing it to following up with potential leads and evaluating the success of the endeavor.   

Before you can begin printing banners or designing the obligatory swag, you need to take a close look at your brand and the materials you’ve employed at previous trade shows. Consider who’s going to be in attendance at the upcoming show and ask yourself whether your existing materials are right for that particular audience. Will they speak to them and engage them in what you have to offer? Are they even written for the right industry? Potential clients are going to be turned off by literature containing all kinds of jargon that doesn’t apply to their business at all.  

Another important consideration is your visual presence. The goal should always be to project a strong brand through signage, literature, and an overall presence that captures attendees’ attention as they wander the show floor. Be clear about what it is you have to offer. There’s nothing more annoying than a booth that’s so incredibly vague, you have no idea what the company even does. Your display should be a representation of what you can do for prospective clients. If your booth consists of little more than a card table, a package of Chips Ahoy, and a stack of brochures, it’s going to be difficult for prospective customers to imagine you delivering anything more impressive for them.  

In your zeal to communicate your capabilities, be careful not to cram your booth so full it’s nearly impossible for attendees to enter, much less have an engaging experience. Always consider the show environment and what things are a match for the venue. Don’t lean too hard on something that won’t work in the space. This is especially true when using audio or video materials. If a show is particularly loud, the effectiveness of such vehicles will be lost, as no one will be able to hear them. Likewise, a constant audio loop blasted in a quiet exhibit hall is likely to annoy attendees and lead booth staffers to the brink of madness.  

Finally, make sure the people staffing the booth are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to explain your product’s or service’s attributes and answer attendees’ questions. Look beyond sales and marketing and consider bringing in a cross-section of professionals to engage with prospective customers.   

By putting a significant investment in time, energy, and creativity into projecting a strong brand, you tell potential customers you care about the details and the message your materials convey. That translates into interest, as they naturally assume you’re going to put that same level of care and professionalism into the work you do for them. 

At Chartwell Agency, we’re here to help chart the path to trade show success. Whether you’re looking for a complete rebranding, content strategy, design strategy, or implementation, we’d love to chat.  

Now that you’ve created an effective presence, the focus shifts to building excitement and driving traffic to your booth. See you next time!