How to Thrive at a Trade Show

Amplifiers. Lingerie. Solid waste. What do they have in common, besides being things you find at a Bon Jovi concert? Answer: They’re among the hundreds of industries that host trade shows each year.

And chances are, whatever market your business is in, there’s a trade show for that, too. Maybe it’s in Vegas, or Orlando, or San Diego. It doesn’t matter where – although Florida in February is quite nice – you should attend. Trade shows are a goldmine for potential customers because the concentrated crowd is already interested in what you have to offer.

Simply attending a show is not a guarantee for success, though. Your competition is there, and they’ve been prepping for months. Some of them even have matching shirts! Don’t worry. There are several ways for you to be engaging and create a buzz for your business. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Become a speaker at the event. Speaking to an audience as an industry expert gives you instant credibility. Depending on the market and the type of event, there are different criteria to become a speaker. Keep in mind, this is all about what you can do for your audience. Don’t be too self-promotional or you’ll lose them to their smart phones.

Promote, promote, promote. Use your social media accounts to build the buzz. Let your followers know that you’ll be attending the event. Send e-mail notifications and reminders to contacts in your address book.

Be creative with your booth. You’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Well, with trade show booths, that adage gets thrown out the window. People will judge you – and thus a portion of your brand – by how your booth looks. Allocate some of your budget to making it stand out. There are professional designers who will make sure your booth is impressive. And if you’re looking for a trendy twist, virtual reality is a fun way to get people’s attention and make them remember you.

Throw in a freebie. Winning something is exciting, even if it’s just a free lunch. You can raffle off a free meal by having participants give you their business cards. It’ll be a chance to speak with more people and to add to your contacts list. Also, put out a steady stream of snacks or treats. Your goal is to get traffic to your booth and to engage potential clients – so reel them in with the allure of the chocolate chip cookie.

Wear comfortable shoes. Happy feet, happy mood. Not sure if that’s been scientifically proven, but you’ll thank us.

Trade shows are an opportunity to shine. Go. Revel in the air-conditioned ambiance. Have a kick-butt booth. And remember, if they can engage clients and create exciting booths at the World of Concrete show – yes, that’s a real thing – then you certainly can up your game for your industry’s big event. Just don’t forget the cookies.