6 Innovative Ideas to Make a Splash at Trade Shows


Trade shows, every industry has them.  If you are new to the market, then you know that making your mark at one can be a daunting task.  The general rule of thumb is that you need to go through three trade show cycles before customers will begin to have faith in you and your product.  Let’s face it, no one has the time or money to survive that long without any orders.  So, if you are looking for a way to make a splash at trade shows, then this article is for you.


  1. Know the Show


Knowing the show can be the difference between trade show success and failure.  I am not talking about knowing what industries the show caters to.  You need to go deeper and find out who the buyers, where they are coming from, and what they are looking for.  In addition, check out the other exhibitors to find out what they are offering at the shows and what they are doing to stand out from the crowd.


One of the best ideas is to visit the show before becoming an exhibitor.  This is an extremely powerful approach as it allows you to get a first-hand feel for the show.  More importantly, you can talk to exhibitors and other guests.  Who knows? You might even get a few leads out of the visit.


  1. Fine Tune your Messaging


You have one chance to make a first impression.  Now multiply that by hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of visitors.  As you can see, it can be very hard to get someone’s attention at a trade show.


To be successful, you need to have a rock-solid elevator pitch – one you can deliver in 10 seconds or less, and goes right to the customer problem you are solving.  Also, you need to have a first-class booth; something which catches the attention of the passerby and forces them to stop and look.  To achieve this, you might want to look at a tradeshow sign examples to see what works.


  1. Get Busy


Here is a dirty little secret about trade shows, the booths with the most meetings get the most business.  When a passerby sees that someone is in a meeting with a potential buyer it piques their interest.  If you are just starting out, then you might want to consider hiring a few actors or models for your booth.  Some could be presenters, while others could be strategically staged to make your booth seem busier than it is.  This works! I can tell you that the times we are busiest at our booth tend to be the times when most potential buyers will pop in.


  1. Network & Get Everything into your CRM


Trade shows are a great opportunity to network.  Unfortunately, most people just end up with a pile of business cards in a drawer.  To be successful you need to hire someone to enter all the business cards and other contact details and follow up notes into your CRM as it happens.  Follow up is the key, and it starts by getting everything into your CRM before the show is over.  You might even be able to get a couple of new meetings out of it.


  1. Set Appointments


Don’t just wait for people to come to your booth.  Another great trade show idea starts two to three months before the show.  It starts by getting yourself a list of potential customers, then emailing and calling to set appointments during the show.  Everyone is busy, but try to set 10- to 15-minute meetings during the show.  These can be introductions and demonstrations, especially if you are new, or they can be chances to take orders.


A good rule of thumb is that you will need a minimum of 100 contacts for each day of the show.  For example, you should have a list of 400 contacts for a four-day show.  You probably won’t get anywhere close to 400 appointments.  But walking into a show knowing you have 10 or 20 appointments scheduled is such a confidence boost.


  1. Have a Plan to Win


Trade shows cost money, a lot of money.  As such, you need to set clear goals and have a plan to win.  I know this sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised how FEW people do this.  Stand out from the crowd, have a plan and make it work.