Sunday, July 22, 2007

I've picked a Trade Show - Now what do I do?

Your first step is to plan your booth well. Think about your goals for the show, and plan accordingly. If your goal is to book parties or recruit and you anticipate needing a moment or two to talk to people one on one, then make sure those prospective hostesses or representatives can enter your booth and get information from you. If you are selling product and need to control inventory, then block off part of your booth for your use only. This is a tricky issue. Some people swear by making their booths accessible and inviting people in, so they put their tables at the back or along the side edges. However, the general public can sometimes be stand-offish. They may avoid your booth because they do not want to get sucked in. (Afraid of a sales pitch and all that.)

Others will put their tables across the front of their booth in order to put all their products or literature right where people can reach them. But this puts your set up between you and your potential clients making you unapproachable. And if the show is very busy, your clients will end up standing right in the traffic pattern where they can be swept away. Sometimes your best bet is to arrange your tables about halfway into the booth. This allows people the opportunity to step out of traffic to talk to you without feeling like they are walking into the lion's den. It also makes it easier to actually carry on a conversation with all the distraction around you (think "eye of the storm").

In many ways, your booth will be a reflection of your personality. Choose a setup you are comfortable with. The more comfortable you are, the more approachable you will be no matter what the circumstances. And do not forget to use the visual space above the tables. If people are standing in front of your booth, perhaps at a table, can people passing behind them see what your booth is about?

If the show is indoors, do you have a banner at the back top section of the booth with your company information on it? At an outdoor show, you will want a canopy of some type for shade. Use the front of the canopy for a sign or visual display. (Do not rely on the show to provide you with a sign. The signs they refer to are usually just a 3 foot by 6 inch card that has your company name on it just to mark your booth.) Make sure people can find you and know who you are. Try to strike a balance between visually stimulating and distracting.

You want to give just enough information to make them want more. Then they will visit you. One more thing to consider for your booth is a giveaway item. The vendor's purpose for a giveaway is to compile a lead list. Sometimes you can get a list of registered attendees from the show itself (as in the case of a bridal show), but this is not always the case. So compile your own list to follow up with after the show. Make sure you give away something worth their time to fill out your form. Ask questions on your giveaway ticket to get more information from your lead besides just their contact info. Do they want to book a party? Are they interested in free stuff? Would they like more information about a specific product? (List products for them to circle.)

Keep the form short (no one wants to spend too much time filling them out). Trade shows and expos are one of my favorite types of marketing venues. You have the opportunity to speak face to face with so many potential clients in a short amount of time. You can tell them personally what is so great about your business. Keep your booth lively and look like you are having fun. Everyone will want to know what is happening there, so they will flock to you. Good luck!

Deanna Mayer is the stay at home mother of two. When she isn't carting her boys around their Denver suburb, she is busy building her ideal career at She is currently launching her newest product line, Naked Minerals, the first 100% pure pressed mineral cosmetics. Feel free to email her at Source:

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