Industry trade shows are a great way to discover new business opportunities, to meet customers and clients face-to-face, and to help build a brand that’s recognized within your market niche.

Of course, attendees have to find your booth first, and most of these attendees will look for indications of what your company does, how it can help their own businesses, and reasons to stop and chat about synergies that can help both companies.

Preparing for an upcoming industry get-together should start as soon as you decide to attend. You’ll have to make some decisions – everything from the size of your booth, to signage that draws in attendees eager to hear more about your products or services.

Nevada hosts hundreds of trade shows, conventions and other gatherings of people in different industry segments. To get the most out of your trade show space, planning ahead is critical.

Here are some tips to enjoy greater success at your next trade show.

1. How much booth space will you need? Booth space costs money. That’s one way trade show organizers make money – leasing booth space for a few days to small businesses and global enterprises. The more space you take at a trade show, the higher the cost.

However, it may not serve your company’s best interests to reserve a small 10 x 10 foot space when a national company has leased two 40 x 50 foot spaces right across the aisle from your little booth.

Decide how much space you can afford, or will need, and register early so you can choose the best space for your company.

2. Ask about the extra costs. Nothing is free at most trade shows. You may pay for chairs, a display table, a power cord to run your computer loop. The organizers of the trade show should provide a list of available extras that might pull in more foot traffic to your booth regardless of size.

3. Have lots and lots of take-aways. Brochures, manuals, catalogs, sell sheets, business cards – make sure you have plenty of materials that attendees can take with them. Why?

The people who attend trade shows see a lot of businesses and talk to a lot of people. Even if they stop by your booth to hear your pitch, they may quickly forget all about your business and the benefits you deliver after visiting 30 or 40 other vendors.

Make sure those who stop by your booth walk away with a stack of helpful information – the kind of information that gets read on the plane trip home, for example. Even if you own a small company, a handsome tri-fold brochure listing services and benefits can make a sale with the right customer. Make sure your materials list all your contact information: website, Facebook and Twitter pages, LinkedIn, etc.

4. Promote your place at the trade show before the trade show dates. Send out announcements to existing customers that your business will have space at the upcoming trade show and encourage them to stop by your booth to say hello. In today’s business world, a company owner may not have much face time with a client company.

An industry trade show can provide that all-important personal contact. In fact, make appointments to meet prospects and existing contacts to make sure you’re at the booth instead of away buying coffee. Arrange meetings in advance.

5. Teach the booth staff about client relations. The men and women who hold down your booth may not have a clear picture of your objectives. They know what your company does, but they may not understand your objectives for this particular show.

For example, one objective is to sign up new clients. That’s easy. However, another objective might be to find an industry insider you’d like to hire for a key position in the business. Or, you may be looking for a knowledgeable consultant to take your company to the next level. Booth personnel need to know why they’re at the trade show – your goals.

6. Choose the “boss” of the booth – the individual with authority to make decisions, and even sign contracts with new consumers or vendors. Next, make sure you have enough people to handle all trade show attendees quickly. There’s a lot to see at most industry shows, and attendees may not want to stick around waiting for a rep from your company to explain services.

7. Put down that cell phone. Visitors don’t want to interrupt an important phone call, so they may just walk past you if your trade show lead is chatting on his or her smartphone.

8. Don’t just sit there, do something! Get out from behind the display table and greet passers-by with a handshake, a smile, and a take-away brochure. Pull in visitors and encourage them to hear the benefits your business delivers.

9. Be at the booth at all times. If you’re out doing the meet-and-greet with other industry insiders, who’s managing that expensive booth you rented for the next few days? Never leave your booth empty. Have an expert (or several experts) in place to answer questions, gather business cards from other attendees, and perhaps make an appointment for later in the day to get together to talk.

10. Collect business cards from attendees. These business cards are a treasure trove of information. The name and title of the card owner, the location of the business, the company’s URL, telephone number – it’s all there on a well-designed business card. Have a contest and offer a prize to a lucky person who leaves their business card.

Follow up on meetings with prospects ASAP. If a prospect asks specific questions, send specific answers by email or regular post as soon as you get back to the office, and your company is still fresh in the minds of trade show attendees.

Trade shows are a great way to strengthen a company brand, find sub-contractors and vendors interested in selling their services or products to you, and of course, these industry-specific shows provide an excellent opportunity to sell your company’s products or services.

To get the most from any trade show, come prepared, practice your pitch, and most importantly, define the reason you’re taking space.   


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC