5 Tips to Set up Your Day for Success at Trade Shows

September 6, 2016

When Winston Churchill said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” he probably didn’t have trade shows in mind. But his words speak to one of the biggest mistakes companies commit when exhibiting at trade shows and conferences: They lack proper pre-show planning.

For the inexperienced trade show exhibitor (and even the seasoned veteran), the day of the event can be hectic.

This is why pre-trade show planning is crucial.

Don’t get caught flat-footed on the day of your trade show. To avoid any unnecessary stress, follow these 5 tips for setting up your exhibition day for success.

1. Outline your company’s goals for the trade show.

Your company is unique. Likewise, each trade show and conference is unique, with a unique audience and set of challenges. Therefore, it makes sense to outline distinct goals for each individual exhibition.

These objectives will depend on a lot of factors, including the nature of your business and the type of event you’re attending. But to get you thinking, here are some common goals:

  • Connecting with influencers in your industry
  • Enhancing your PR efforts by meeting with any media outlets in attendance
  • Building marketing lists (e.g. newsletter lists, leads, twitter lists)
  • Meeting with potential customers
  • Establishing your company as a thought leader in your industry


2. Communicate with your booth staff.

As the vehicles through which your message will be communicated, your staff needs to be in the know.

Send an email and orchestrate a pre-show huddle to make sure your staff is clear on both the logistics and goals for the day. Aligning with your team is especially important if the exhibit is out-of-town, requiring your staff members to travel. It will also give them the opportunity to ask questions, which can expose gaps of information you didn’t know existed.

3. Design and execute your pre-show marketing and outreach strategy.

Roughly 70% of show attendees plan which booths they will visit before stepping foot in the convention doors. Therefore, get acquainted with pre-show marketing.

An effective pre-trade show marketing and outreach strategy creates buzz and promotes your presence at an upcoming show. Use these proven techniques in your strategy:

  • Social Media: Publish messages with the event’s details and reach out to your individual contacts inviting them to attend (LinkedIn works great for this!)
  • Email: Send out an email to your preexisting email lists inviting them to the event.
  • Promotions: Attract more visitors to your booth by giving them a tangible incentive. For example, offer a giveaway to the first 50 people that show up to a seminar at your booth.


4. Secure a spot as a conference speaker.

Speaking opportunities are a goldmine – both for your company’s and your personal brand. Before attending a trade show or conference, research if any of these opportunities exist. If they do, jump on them.

Getting the gig can be tough. However, it’s tough for a reason. Speaking at a trade show or conference immediately boosts the credibility of your company as a thought leader in your industry. It’s free publicity, as the opportunity literally and figuratively hoists your brand on a platform.

You may need to submit a proposal to be accepted, but it’s a small sacrifice to pay for the benefit of the publicity. Not to mention, many events offer free or discounted booth spaces and event tickets to speakers.

5. Most importantly, don’t forget the coffee.

Because trying to manage a full day of exhibiting without it would be downright impossible.

Need some help with trade show management? That’s where we shine. Contact us to see what we can do for you.