17 Tips for 2017 Trade Shows

IMG_20170304_152924At the beginning of each year, it’s common to try to predict what the future holds. Often, the success ratio of this exercise is on par with a game of Craps in Las Vegas.

Instead, let’s think about the things that you can control and directly contribute to Trade Show Sucess in 2017.

Here are 17 Tips to assist with your 2017 Trade Show planning:

1.) Plan early & plan often – at least 6 months ahead of the show, if not sooner, such as 9 months. I have a handy Trade Show Timeline Worksheet, available to all, to aid in this process. Send me a message if you’d like it.

2.) Switch to LED lights, if you haven’t already. Among the benefits – brighter lights and lower costs!

3.) Set Objectives – Are you exhibiting for new leads? Brand awareness? Meetings with customers? Outline your objectives before the show and share them will all.

4.) Forecast Your Trade Show Results – If we don’t know why we’re exhibiting and what we expect to get out of it, how can we be effective when we’re at the show? We created an online forecasting calculator which is easy & effective to use. I’m happy to share it with anyone who sends me a message.

5.) Update your graphics – Sadly, there are a lot of bad graphics on the trade show floor. If your graphics aren’t new (as in less than 18 months old), it’s probably time for a refresh.

6.) Update your display – Like a car, if your trade show display is falling apart, it’s not going to be helpful to you, the brand or your company’s image. Make 2017 the year that you update your display.

7.) Make all of the early discount deadlines. You’ll save money, reduce headaches and check one more item off your list!

8.) Invest in lead capture. Scanning badges or collecting business cards only gets you a list of names. We provide exhibitors with a system that not only collects contact information but also can help to qualify or disqualify prospects, share content by email in the booth and report ongoing results afterward to make informed post-show marketing decisions.

9.) Go paperless. Don’t ship a bunch of brochures. Share the digitally at your trade show.

10.) Create a booth experience. Pre-show marketing is focused on driving people to your booth. however, if there’s not a reason for them to stay or get engaged, a prospect might walk away before you have a chance to speak with them. Create an engaging experience to compel them to interact with you.

11.) Measure results. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you can measure it, you can manage it!” By measuring your trade show results, you’ll be armed with decision making information to influence the outcomes & successes of your next trade shows.

12.) Create a post-show report. Once we measure results, share it with your team to show them the “fruit of their labor” and share it with all stakeholders to ensure they understand the benefits of trade show exhibits.

13.) Invest in training. Doing the same thing over & over will yield the same results. Take time and invest funds in training your booth staffers to be more effective in the questions they ask prospects and the focus on achieving more at your trade shows.

14.) Continue learning. Never stop learning! We live in the Information Age, so it’s easier than ever before to learning more new things each day. Read a little each day and you’ll gain more & more knowledge that you can apply to your trade shows.

15.) Lower costs. Trade shows are expensive, but they’re also an investment. By using our funds wisely, we can put dollars towards the activities that are most likely to pay back. Use lighter materials to reduce shipping costs. Work with the most effective vendors to ensure costs are in line. There are plenty of ways to lower your trade show costs this year.

16.) Save time. Working with the right trade show partner will help you to save time and focus on the right stuff – the sales & marketing strategies that will affect your trade show results and company’s bottom line.

17.) Try something new! Another one of my favorite quotes is, “If you wait until all the stop lights are Green, you’ll never make it to town.” In other words, if we wait for the perfect scenario to try something new, we’ll always be waiting. There’s never a perfect scenario, so now is the time to try something new – either a new display, a new pre-show marketing campaign, a new lead capture system, a new vendor or a new booth experience – just try it!

What other tips would you add to the list? Comment below with your thoughts below and share this post to help others!

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Michael Flavin sells St. Louis Trade Show Displays, St. Louis Trade Show Booths and Trade Show Displays in St. Louis MO. He has 9 years of trade show industry expertise and 14 years overall in design, sales & marketing.

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