by Sheila Reed, Director of Trade Shows & Events at Branding Iron
The exhibitor prospectus for potential trade shows will be loaded with information and statistics. Sometimes to find value and make the most of your exhibition you need to dig deeper. Below are five opportunities to look for when exhibiting at a trade show that go beyond the attendance level, competition, and floor plan.
1. Strong Tourism & International Airport
Take the trade show location into consideration. Destinations with strong tourism attract attendees looking to use the trade show as a vacation. Orlando and Las Vegas are two great examples. A strong tourism department means there will be ample restaurants and experiences for entertaining customers during the trade show after hours. It is also important to be at the U.S. trade shows your international customers attend. If the show is marketed as a global trade show, make sure it is accessible to an international airport. If there’s not an international airport nearby it is less likely to attract universal attendees.
2. Advertising or Sponsorship
If you are exhibiting at a trade show with more than 100 exhibitors look for advertising and sponsorship opportunities to make your company memorable. Most shows have sponsorship opportunities starting at less than 1,000. Some of the more affordable options include carpet decals, lobby meter boards and ads in the show app or directory. Carpet decals can be purchased to direct traffic to your booth if you’re located off a main aisle. Ads in show publications or the app are a great way to reinforce your brand presence in the attendees and drive traffic to your booth. If you’re placing an ad always include your booth number.
3. Participate in the Educational Sessions
A great way to stand out from your competition at a trade show is to become active in educational sessions or roundtable discussions. This opportunity will bring the attendees who need your services right to you. You will build a reputation for being the expert in your field. This allow allows you to interact with attendees who may not have had time to explore the exhibit hall or known who you were prior to the trade show.
4. Media Coverage
Look to see if industry magazines and websites will be attending. If so, this is the perfect time to debut a new product or share a company announcement. Write a press release in advance of the show and submit it for consideration to be ran in the daily publications. Also, invite the media to your booth for a demo or press conference. If the product or announcement is engaging, you could be included in the trade show recap or a future article. Trade shows are a great way to strengthen and build relationships with the media.
5. Twofer Deal: Current Customers and Potential Customers Will Be There
Reach out to your current customers and see if they are planning to attend the trade show. If so, this is a great opportunity to have some face time with your current customers while meeting new ones. If they aren’t attending, see if a free pass would change their mind. Some trade shows (for example, Heli Expo) supply exhibitors with guest passes specifically so they can invite their customers and get them to the show.
In Conclusion, the exhibit hall size and attendance levels are great indicators of what to expect from a show but for the best ROI; aspire to do more than set up a booth with a fish bowl collecting business cards. See if there are amazing opportunities outside the exhibit hall walls to entertain current and potential customers, utilize ads and sponsorships and participate in educational sessions. Engaging with your audience outside of the booth strengthens your trade show presence. Also, see if you can spend time building rapport with the media and your current customer base. If there’s an opportunity to offer customers free entry into the show be sure to take advantage of it.