Your Checklist for Attending a Trade Show as an Exhibitor

Illustration by Mary Stalter via Dribbble

Companies of all types depend on trade shows for lead generation. In fact, trade shows are the second largest source of B2B revenue in the United States. There’s a lot that goes into making the most of exhibiting at a trade show, though.

Take a look at our quick checklist of to-dos and event signage ideas to help you prepare for your next show.

 icon-check Book Early, Especially for Sponsorship Opportunities

Some trade shows fill up faster than others. It’s important to understand the current event landscape and have a plan for which events you plan to attend. Ideally, you should have an event plan with a budget for every year, paying particular attention to larger events.

In this plan, make note of the deadlines for registration. Don’t wait till the last minute – review the floor plans and commit to booking early enough to get a good spot in the exhibit hall.

 icon-check Work with the Venue

There are many event logistics that must be handled in order to make your exhibition successful. Remain in contact with the trade show venue and event planners. They will provide information on shipping and handling addresses, booth storage and so on.

Many times they will also help promote your presence in advance, and they can give you event signage ideas specific to the space. Work with your marketing team to cover:

  • Registration for your booth and all staff
  • Reservations of any meeting spaces, restaurants, hotels, etc.
  • Obtain a floor plan of the building and expo space
  • Booth creation and storage – include a timeline for getting all of your booth elements and event signage produced and then shipped to the event venue

 icon-check Design a Booth and Backdrop that Attracts Attendees

Research shows that most trade show attendees have the authority to buy – but you have to get their attention first. Compelling booths are modern, noticeable without being overbearing, and have plenty of space.

Standard sizes are in increments of 10 feet. Most booths you see will be 10 X 10, 10 X 20, or occasionally even 20 X 20. That’s a lot of space to plan for, but a bit of creativity goes a long way.

You want to be sure that in addition to implementing unique event signage and design, you also plan the physical space well. Ensure there is room for your booth staff to talk to prospects, and even sit down if longer conversations might take place.

Trade Show Booth Design Illustration
Illustration by KEMDU via Dribbble

Additionally, you can use technology such as self-service kiosks or digital signage to display your products. Here are some additional event signage ideas to incorporate:

#1. Directional signage

Another name for directional signage, is wayfinding signage. It helps direct visitors to your booth. When possible, include directional signs that guide people to your booth, experts, or other items of note. If you’re a speaker at the event, have signage that shows where the hall is, the time of the talk, and your logo. Other directional signage could include floor decals or floor graphics which direct queues to your booth.

#2. Self-service kiosks

Guests can use these to input their own information or view items that are of particular interest to them. You can create custom kiosks that provide interactive video or touch screen capabilities. These are particularly helpful for having leads enter their contact information so that you can narrow down their interests before following up from the show.

#3. Digital displays for content

People walking by are going to see something. Why not mix it up? Use digital event signage to rotate through company or product information, advertising, photos, or PowerPoint slides. Keep the visuals interesting and put them on a rotation schedule to better attract attention.

#4. Electronic boards for user-generated content

User-generated content is becoming more popular. It’s cost-effective, and why not let your customers help market for you? Encourage people to take photos using your product. Then, rotate those photos on a large electronic board that attendees can see as they walk by your booth.

#5. Artistic displays

Digital signage makes it easy to get extra creative in large spaces. Design an eye-catching media wall with large screens, or a multi-screen installation displaying different components that work together. Durable options like banner stands can be used for many different purposes. To see how impactful large-scale video displays can be, check out our image gallery.

#6. Social media highlights

Modern marketers know that social media exposure is an important part of event strategy. These event signage ideas are great additions to social media promotion:

  • Digital signs showing hashtags or social media handles for the even
  • A TV screen rotating through the posts you’re getting on social
  • An attractive branded display with your logo that people can stand next to for photo opportunities and then post to social
  • Signs with social media information for any special events you’ll host at the show

 icon-check Make Sure Event Staff is Well Prepared

The greatest exhibit in the world won’t help you if you don’t have a well-trained, engaging staff. You need to ensure you have enough people in the booth to handle the traffic, and that they are prepared with talking points.

Hold a “practice” session where employees can come through the booth, use the interactive elements, and ask questions. Ask your business development team to prepare a list of the questions they most commonly receive, and hand it out to booth staff.

Decide ahead of time what everyone will wear to look on-brand and professional. Some companies like to use different outfits for each day of the show. Make sure all of your trade show staff has a thorough understanding of the show schedule and their booth shifts. Encourage any sales people attending to plan meetings and keep those meetings in mind when you create an overall event schedule.

 icon-check Remember to Follow Up

Follow Up Illustration
Illustration by gamma valeri via Dribbble

Trade shows are a serious investment. The average company uses 31.6% of their overall marketing budget for events and exhibits. That means it’s really, really important to get the most bang for your trade show bucks.

Before the event, set specific and measurable goals. Ensure that your staff is ready to move conversations into a qualifying stage, and collect as many leads as possible. Before the event, document a follow up strategy combining unique ways to nurture leads.

A combination of phone calls and sending helpful content is the most effective way to reach leads from an event. Then, hold regular meetings with your marketing and sales staff to discuss leads and progress.

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