Trade shows and exhibits at conferences can be intimidating. You feel that you're going to be swallowed up by the sheer amount of vendors around you. As you watch the visitors, you see a continuous line of blank faces, picking up cards and flyers, fingering the merchandise or running their hands along the displays. Just as you approach to speak, someone grabs their elbow and off they go. Another potential client lost.

So how do you stand out and get noticed so that you can secure new business?

Try incorporating these easy tips for your best results:

1. Location, location, location

It can never be said enough. You want to be where people will see you. If you can look at a lay-out, try to choose an outside or next to outside booth. If you're able to get close to a vendor that sells refreshments, you'll have the advantage of speaking to people who are taking a breath and looking around. Also pay a little more for a corner booth. People congregate at corners and again that gives you more chances to talk to potential customers.

2. Choose your display wisely

Booths generally measure 10x10 in large trade shows, sometimes 10x12. Choose materials that will display your product without crowding. Find merchandise that will highlight your business or service without bringing the entire line. A small sample along with a card or pamphlet will give them a tease and the information will help them contact you at a later date.

3. Find a booth that will wow them

Trade shows are big business and there are rental services that will help you design a booth that will keep them coming back for more. Truss displays, for example, can be set up easily and redesigned so that each show is unique. If you do multiple shows, you might even consider purchasing a light weight model. One thing to keep in mind is lighting. Make sure the lighting highlights your products. The more interesting and inviting your booth the more customers you will have ( I once had a full size T-Rex to help get attention).

4. Be available to your visitors

Don't stand at the back of the booth, looking at Snapchat, talking on the phone or pretending you're busy with other things. If you're not talking to a visitor, you're not bringing in business.

5. Include a give-away for a reminder

Small items such as pens, magnets and little calendars give a daily reminder that you are available and keep you on the fore-front until you're able to follow up. Use this to help gather business cards that you can then add to your mailing list.

6. Prepare what you will say

You are among a sea of people on the days that you are counting on picking up business. You've paid for the booth and committed to spending your days in a box. Make them count. If you're only able to shake a hand and pass out a pen, be sure to make eye contact and remind them that your number is right there on their gift.

7. Be sure to follow up

Keep a list of those you talk to. Ask for their contact information. They will be impressed that you took the time to take down their name and let them know that their business is important to you. Offer to send a friendly, non-intrusive text or email to expand on the services you can provide.

It's important to make a positive first impression. With these tips you can make shows profitable and a valuable way to grow your business.

Published on: Jan 30, 2017
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