The benefits of attending a trade show can be endless for your business. Trade shows are proof of how powerful face-to-face conversations can be. They can open you up to a whole new audience and possible leads that might not have found out about you otherwise. So much potential doesn’t come without some hard work, of course. Planning the perfect trade show can be stressful, no matter how long you and your business have been attending them. Fortunately, there are a few ways to be sure that you’re planning the best trade show possible. 

For your next trade show, be sure to follow these ten tips to get the most out of it. 

1. Set clear goals

Anyone who’s looked into attending trade shows knows all that they can get from it. However, just knowing you can benefit from a trade show isn’t enough of a reason for going. If you go to a trade show hoping something good will come from it without a clear goal, you aren’t likely to gain much. Before you plan anything else, you and the rest of your team need to have a solid understanding of why exactly you’re attending the trade show. What are you trying to achieve? Look at what your business needs and how attending a trade show can get that for you. You could be looking to build brand awareness.  Maybe you want to keep a close eye on your competitors. Whatever it is, keep it in mind for the rest of your planning. 

2. Establish a budget

You’ll realize early on how expensive trade shows can be. This could significantly impact what trade shows you can attend and what you’ll be able to do at them. For such a large expense, you need to have a budget you know you can stick to before you plan anything else.  Not only will the trade show itself be expensive, but you’ll have to plan for all the additional costs, too. How far away will it be? If you’re traveling further away for it, that will be even more of an expense. Understanding right at the start how much you’ll be able to spend will make the rest of your planning go much smoother. 

3. Take advantage of social media

While you’re going to a trade show to benefit from interacting with people in-person, you still can’t forget about social media. You can utilize social media before, during, and after the show, so you don’t want to overlook all that it has to offer. Using social media to advertise for your trade show lets all of your current followers learn more about the event. The trade show you’re attending is also likely to have a hashtag for the event, so it’s important that you use that as well. This will allow everyone else attending the event to find you on social media. You can’t succeed at a trade show in 2019 unless you know how to use social media for your advantage. 

4. Find out how much space you’ll need

How much you’re able to spend on the trade show could make a difference in the size booth you’ll be given. Most events will have a standard size for most of their booths. Will the size of the booths be big enough for the display you have planned? The size of your booth could affect what you’re able to display and how you can interact with attendees, so you need to work around this. This can vary between different events, so you should never assume. You should also find out in advance where the booth will be located. If you get to this early, you might be able to book a booth in a high-foot traffic area, which gives you a better chance of getting visitors to your booth. 

5. Prepare the right employees 

If you have a small business, there’s a chance you might need to bring nearly your entire staff for a trade show. In this case, you might not have much of a say in who attends. Even with few choices, you need to be picky about which employees you’ll be bringing. As your employees will be face-to-face with attendees at the trade show, you need to be sure they’ll be successful at it. Choose people with the best communication skills who will be able to engage with a crowd for hours. It’s also important that you choose people with diverse jobs. This way, you’ll be able to show off all the skills your company is capable of. Practicing for the trade show in advance once you’ve made your selection ensures everyone will be well-prepared. 

6. Create eye-catching signage

Even at small trade shows, standing out can be difficult. With a lack-luster booth design and displays, you won’t be very tempting when there are plenty of other options available. The look of your space could be the difference that gets people to visit your booth. This is especially true if you aren’t well-known at the event because your appearance could be the entire appeal. People should have a good idea about what your business is about through your signage. Your brand should also be made clear from your signage and display, including elements like your logo and colors. If you’re attending more trade shows in the future, spending more money on quality displays is a worthwhile investment. 

7. Plan giveaways

If you’ve attended a trade show in the past, you know that no trade show is complete without giveaways. People will be expecting this, so it’s so giving away something free is an easy way to get people to visit your booth. Aside from promotional items, food also does a good job of doing this. Anyone who’s gotten a branded giveaway before will also know that they often end up in the trash hours after you get them. This gives you the perfect chance to be different and get promotional items that people will actually enjoy getting. By giving people something with your company name on it that they’ll want to keep, your keeping your business in their minds. This will make them remember your business even long after the trade show finishes. 

8. Host a contest

Giveaways aren’t the only thing that will bring more people to your booth. To make your booth even more appealing, host a contest. Games and contests are engaging and leave people with a good impression of your brand. This can help get even more people interested in your company but has an extra bonus for you. Contests are a great way of getting new leads. To be eligible for the contest, require everyone participating to provide you with their information first.  Since you’ll also be posting about the event on social media, it’s good that you also let everyone know you’ll be having a contest at your booth. 

9. Attend any extra events 

You might feel exhausted just planning and attending the trade show. While this is a lot of work on its own, there could be even more. Many larger trade shows will have speakers and different session that you can attend in addition to the trade show. To get the most out of attending a trade show, be sure that you’re going to everything available. These can give you more insight and updates about your industry. Events like these can also give you the chance to network and speak with leaders in your industry. By attending these, you could be getting the education to help your business even more. If you or someone else on your team feels up to it, you might even get the chance to speak and let everyone know that your an expert in your field. 

10. Follow up with new leads after

After the trade show is over, there’s still work related to it that needs to get done. You might need a moment to recuperate, but don’t let all of your new leads slip away. It’s best to send a follow-up email one to two days after the event is over. Keep in mind that your leads have talked to multiple different companies, so they might not remember you. Because of this, it’s important for you to reintroduce yourself and remind them of how you met. Since they’ll likely be getting multiple emails soon after the event, be sure that yours is personable and doesn’t come off as being spammy. In addition to emailing new leads, you should also be connecting with them on social media.