How to Attend your First Trade Show

Technology has reshaped the way we do business, but it will never entirely replace the importance of human interaction. Trade shows offer a means to get your business in front of people and communicate face-to-face, and if you haven’t already done it, you need to start planning on attending one.

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We're not talking about just showing up, either. You won't reap the benefits of the trade show crowd without having a real presence there — and that means setting up a booth. Follow our advice, and you might just surprise yourself at how rewarding the trade show experience can be.

Here are five secrets to getting attention at your first trade show.

  1. Incorporate Your Brand

People have short attention spans, and at a trade show, their attention is at its best. To earn people's time — and hopefully their business — your booth needs to be exciting and different. It also needs to scream your brand. You want people to walk away with your logo burned into their brains and the desire to know more.

Branding is an essential part of marketing, and it's a crucial aspect of the display you’ll build for the trade show. Spend some time with your marketing department to agree on a target demographic. Have a color scheme and graphics cookbook for your trade display, and do some roleplaying to practice responding to different types of customers.

  1. Make It Active

One of the best ways to get people who visit your booth to stick around is by giving them something interactive to do. It might be as simple as a photo opportunity with your brand mascot, or perhaps you can have staff members challenge attendees to a game.

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  1. Have the Right Team

Running a booth requires long hours and lots of interfacing with customers — you can’t do it alone. Make sure you bring along a knowledgeable team of employees with strong interpersonal skills. Not only will they help earn potential customers at your booth, but having a larger group will allow you to see other tables and network.

  1. Give Out Free Swag

When your next potential customer leaves the booth, they need something to remember you by. Make sure you have plenty of stickers, company T-shirts and other fun swag to give away. When people get home at the end of the show, your brand might be the one they remember because of the awesome new shirt they picked up. It's worth the investment, so don't skimp on swag.

  1. Listen to Your Audience

Customers and competitors alike will be in attendance, so don’t waste the chance to learn from both. You might come up with a new idea that can revolutionize your brand by spending some time chatting with someone you think of as a rival.

Ask customers what their experience with your brand has been like. They’ll be more likely to provide candid feedback in-person than to fill out a form on your website, and by taking an interest, you let them know they’re important to you. Expect to come away with some actionable ideas for improving your product or brand.

Attending a trade show is a smart way to interact with unfamiliar businesses and make new friends, and on top of that, you can expect to grow as a company if you get it right. Follow these tips, and you’ll come home feeling positive about your first trade show experience.

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