Boost Trade Show Booth Traffic with 5 Strategies

Learning to boost trade show booth traffic is the the holy grail of any of your convention marketing. More importantly you want them to be qualified visitors. What is the point of having a big crowd in front of your booth if the mob is made up of nothing but people interested in taking home a tote bag full of swag.

Getting someone to head home with some desk widgets or tools with your company logo on them can be excellent for brand retention, but what about getting more people to visit your booth that should have a genuine interest in your product?

There are many great tips out there that have suggestions for doing just that.

 


 

1) Plan Ahead to Boost Trade Show Booth Traffic

There is no goal that can hope to be achievable without a strategy and good planning. Christine Lagorio-Chafkin writes on the importance of pre-show planning as a two pronged approach:

“The first would be to contact your in-house file – that’s your regular customers, local contacts, and solid prospects. The other? Registered attendees of the show…You should conduct some outreach to them – or a segment of attendees that might be interested in you – either through direct mail, e-mail, or even phone.”

In this way your expectations for success on the actual day of the trade show improve. By reaching out to your existing clients you begin to shape a real world view of your convention audience. This should help ensure that the trade show you want to exhibit at will contain people who are there to see your product and similar.

Use this valuable time leading up to the event to reach out to your existing customers you want to become closer with, or prospects that might close if you could just get a face to face conversation. Christine adds:

“While you’re at it, make a substantial effort to contact and make appointments with your local clients, suppliers, or anyone you do business with in the geographic area of your show. It’s a simple way to get face-time with folks you might not otherwise be able to sit down with – and a way to make sure you or your employees aren’t wasting time standing around in an empty booth.”

Whether your expectations for the upcoming trade show relate to improving brand recognition with a gambit of in person discussions or you have more grandiose outcomes in mind, your ability to achieve the goals you set is going to relate to the strategy you plan.

2) Interaction

Fulfilling your trade show expectations depends on having the booth traffic to make headway with your goals. This means having enough visitors to make a measurable effort and figure out what works and what doesn’t. This becomes a ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario where you need visitors to get leads, and your most qualified visitors would come out of your existing customers and leads (remember pre planning).

Now that you are prepared to engage with your attendees, you’ll want to have a logical next step in mind to send someone once you’ve peaked their interest. There are many clever ways to attract more attention toward your booth such as games, contests, and prize raffles.

Normally you want this process to be as easy as possible to avoid making your attendees work. Sometimes however, you can capitalize off of someone’s need to go beyond the status quo and discover something more.

An email campaign to your existing customers may offer a discount for attending the show that can be redeemed at your booth. This sends qualified traffic your way that comes to the show having a preconceived plan of companies they want to visit. Similarly you can create a scavenger hunt that rewards users for seeking out more information on your brand like a QR code. Scott F. McFadden of CSW Corp. points out:

“QR codes (Quick Response codes) are a great way to be innovative at tradeshows. They can be imprinted on banners, shirts, your booth, chairs, rugs, and all your tangible marketing giveaways. They are a great conversation starter to encourage visitors to download a brochure, watch a video, visit your website, or follow you on different social media channels.”

Using QR codes to boost booth traffic

QR Codes allow you to post cryptic emblems in your emails, website, and all around your trade show booth that allow attendees to interact with your brand and feel technology savvy at the same time. While these tech tools can be great at sparking interest, you’ll want to make sure they are a part of a bigger strategy that does not rely on this sort of gimmick, McFadden warns:

“These aren’t exactly new and trend setting anymore. In many cases they’re overlooked and a novelty. However they represent a merge of technology, interest, and spontaneity. Take advantage of this quick lookup for that moment when you have someone’s interest peaked. They go through the effort to snap your code and look at your promotion, so try to have something worthwhile there to keep them with a favorable memory and not feeling like their time was wasted.”

3) Become the Experience

Sounds spooky and existential – but what does it mean? A trade show can be a lot of fun and a lot of work for attendees. To improve your brand awareness and drive people to your booth try thinking about how you can alleviate headaches and improve their experience.

When you’ve been walking around talking for hours and someone hands you a bottle of water, whatever you were feeling is paused for a moment as you thank them, notice who was so kind and continue on your way. In that moment of refreshment the water giver has become part of your experience and helped it improve.

Anything that breaks up the norm, especially if it saves someone time and effort is appreciated and earns you some good will. Doesn’t everyone hate trying to find parking and then walking in the heat toward the convention center? While not within everyone’s budget, Tim Carter explains how becoming a car service does just that:

“Consider renting a small van or bus for the day. It can give you a unique opportunity to increase traffic to your tradeshow booth. Putting the name of your company on the van or bus gives you instant exposure to anyone moving through crowded parking lots. Those who catch a ride may also feel indebted to your company. The least they can do is give you a few minutes to learn more about the products and services that you offer. Of course, running a shuttle bus also gives you a chance to take control of the experience. If you choose a booth near the tradeshow’s entrance, you can use the location as a pick-up and drop-off point.”

Shuttle service to attract visitors to your booth

In one swoop many of your goals of brand awareness, goodwill and an opportunity for face time to explain your product have been achieved.

4) Nurture the Now and Later

Just as you worked hard to set up meetings and promote your attendance to boost trade show booth traffic, you want to carry on that effort after the show to nurture your leads. Megan Zweig at The Core, Marketing blog suggests hiring a photographer to increase demand that people seek out your brand.

“Hire a photographer to chronicle your experience at the tradeshow by taking photos of your team in action along with fun photos of you with your customers on and off the show floor. After the event, mail your customers a card with the photo of you and the customer framed and ready for placement on their desk.”

Trade Show photography helps drive traffic to your booth and follow ups

If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? This classic philosophical adage is my best way to sum up your marketing. In the ever more important world of social media, anything good that your brand has done (sometimes winning points for admitting when you do something not so good) should become part of your social media strategy.

You want to get the word out, and so do the companies you are there to meet with! If you have thoughtfully put some of your budget toward showcasing the people you have met at the show and sending them a little something that pictures them at the show, they should appreciate it. The added benefit is you’ve started the conversation by doing something nice and now they have a way to be reminded of you the next time they need something.

5) Go Above and Beyond

In today’s world of marketing there is almost nothing that hasn’t been thought of already. This doesn’t mean you want to stop trying to exceed expectations as well as boundaries as you seek to reach your audience even after a convention.

While trying to market to exhausted trade show attendees during the after hours will most likely become noise, you can still become part of their end goal: relaxation! While giving out food or drink and offering a quiet place to sit are great ways to improve an attendees’ experience at the show, Megan points out that your efforts can continue on:

“Invite existing and potential customers and partners to your gathering and offer them light bites and cocktails featuring your fresh products. People will head to your booth in droves for an opportunity to attend THE social event of the show. Take advantage of their visit by sharing your latest products/services/news.”

Many of these suggestions may come off as pandering, and that’s not wrong. Anything that calls attention to your brand and leaves a person with a positive mental association with your company is a win. During the busy chaos it becomes the difficult task of your marketing team to boost trade show booth traffic and manage the leads produced. Leave an impacting impression and reinforce that brand recognition in the days and months after your exhibition.

Did we find the best choices? Let us know what your favorite strategies for boosting trade show booth traffic.

The Monster Displays team can be reached at Sales@MonsterDisplays.com or call (888) 484-3344, we’d love to put our experience to work for you.

Read more Monster advice on How to Attract Business at a Trade Show.

Maintaining Your Trade Show Display to Protect Your Investment

Come One, Come All

Each trade show season thousands of companies globetrot between conventions, spending millions on the chance to directly connect with their target audience for a few minutes at their exhibit booth.

In many cases this happens a few times a year, but even if your company only attends one annual convention, the transport, set up, exhibition, disassembly and storage of your trade show display can produce costly wear and tear if not handled properly.

With so much of your marketing budget going into the purchase of a display, it is very important that it holds up to repeated use. After all, budgets rarely get larger and the entire purpose of your trade show strategy is to make a stunning impression on attendees time and time again. Let’s learn the most common pitfalls that companies fall into, and how maintaining your trade show display helps protect your investment for years to come!

Solo Counter Post Chocolate

Help keep your display looking great

A Case Just in Case

Your first line of defense in protecting your display booth investment is making sure you are transporting in a hard back carry case. The most dangerous phase of your display’s life will be the transportation (more on transit safety later) where items will shift in the back of a truck or van and may even have other packages stacked on top.

The easiest way to gain peace of mind is to invest in a carry case with a hard exterior to protect the outer shell from impact, and a product specific case with a snug-fit interior so your sensitive components don’t shift during the move from point A to B.

Think of it in terms we are more familiar with: would you carry a guitar without its case? Protect your display from scratches and dings; those little eyesores will quickly begin to impact your brand’s professional appearance.

Disassemble with Care

Your display is relatively safe when the booth is set up (making sure to keep food and drink far away). Most of the damage comes when a convention is over and your booth staff begins taking down the display in a hurry, eager to put a long day behind them and get back to the after hour social scene.

Hastily removing panels and graphics can cause them to tear or become wrinkled. It is also important to train anyone handling the display on common things to avoid and areas where it is more prone to damage, such as lighting kits.

This is one area where you get points for taking the time to do it right, and gives you the chance to inventory your pieces to make sure you don’t leave without any crucial components.  Also make sure to use all protective packaging included in your booth.  All those bags, inserts, dividers and boxes are there for a reason.

Develop Good Habits

It is always good to get in the practice of inspecting your display before packing it to the next event.  Look out for tears, fading color, wrinkles, broken parts and missing screws so you can try to get everything fixed on time.  This helps you avoid the ever too common last minute trade show rush, which often costs you more money versus having the time to price hunt between competitors. You will also be able to better tell whether your display got damaged before or during the show.

Before packing your display away for your next show, always do a quick cleaning to get rid of dust or gunk that accumulated during the show. As with most materials, the longer a mess stays the more damage it does and the harder it is to clean later. You will want to use a mild mixture of detergent and water for this quick ‘once over’ wipe down, remembering to never spray directly onto your display.

Simple rubbing alcohol can work wonders for this, while others prefer to use on hand cleaners like Windex, 409, or Mr. Clean spray bottles. Similarly to technology and other delicate surfaces, never spray directly onto your canvas or frames. Instead, spray onto a towel and gently wipe your booth for best results.

Keep a policy with your staff of avoiding any food or drink near the booth. Staying hydrated and not running on fumes (uh-oh cranky booth staffers) is important since conventions often last most of the day – just not near the marketing materials! Spilled soda will certainly cause damage as the moisture and sticky syrup invades the folds and spaces between the display.

Treat Graphics with Care

The graphic elements of your booth are like beautiful flowers, they are the livelihood of your exhibit space.  These areas should truly be a focal point of maintaining your trade show display. They thrive with persistent care; wither easily when mistreated and before you know it they will be replaced with a newer, fresher message that fits the changing needs.

The type of care needed will depend on the type of material used.  Some graphics will have a laminate layer – these are the easiest to maintain.  Just wipe them clean with a soft cloth.  Use rubbing alcohol or lighter fluid to clean up dirt.   If the panels are stored rolled up, always roll them up with the graphic facing out.  I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the right way so that the layers stay together.  Try it the other way around and you will find your graphic panels full of air bubbles and nasty waves.  If your laminate is good, it will be some type of polycarbonate.  The downside of this great material is that dents are permanent and visible, so be extra careful as you handle them.

Tradeshow backlit display

Graphics are the focal point of your message

Let’s talk about non-laminated graphics now.  Although they are more common with the new technologies that offer better quality and adherence of the ink to the media, they are still very fragile, so stay away if possible.  Clean them only with a soft cloth, no water or cleaning agents.  They will scratch a lot easier and will not last as long as their laminated counterparts.

Finally, let’s look at fabric. There are several print technologies to decorate fabrics.  The best solutions will offer results that are washable and hold up to steam.  Not that you will throw your trade show graphics in the washer, but you can use mild detergent to wash away dirt.  A portable steamer will be a great addition to your exhibit tool-kit, to help them look crisp and clean every moment of your event.  To store them, make sure to fold gently and place in a plastic bag or container, to protect from moisture or external agents.  If they attach with Velcro to your frames, make sure to keep them away from the hook side of the Velcro, to avoid tears.

Shipping and Storage

Avoid hot, muggy areas like garages and storage pods that don’t have temperature control. Heat and moisture are enemies of any trade show display. Your panels will warp and begin to create rippling in your graphics. Leaks or flooding can cause mildew to grow and any exposure to water will almost immediately begin to ruin any wooden surfaces permanently.

Another down side of heat and moisture are the pests. You want your display’s storage area to be free of insects and rodents that would love to chew it to pieces or leave behind nasty reminders of how you could have done better.

trade-show-display-protected-transport

Professional Transport Helps Protect your Investment

When in doubt, hiring a professional takes the stress off your hands. You wouldn’t dream of drilling your own teeth, but in an effort to cut corners companies most often handle transport logistics themselves. Your exhibit booth is often worth thousands and trying to maintain and take care for these materials yourself can become a costly mistake.

This is especially true if you are running behind schedule and unpacked your display to check its condition much too close to your convention date. The last thing you want when stressing about planning your marketing presence, transportation, and booth staff is the revelation that the musty garage you stored your booth in has been warping your graphics the last few months.

Why Should I Care?

Not practicing good post-show clean up habits can turn a bad situation into a nightmare as you try to replace a gunky part and now struggle to purchase a matching piece. If you are forced to replace graphics that become damaged you’re going to face the almost impossible task of matching up the colors.

Even if you are using the exact same Pantone color, with the same paper weight, and the same coated or glossy scheme – even printing from the same shop will rarely be able to reproduce an identical graphic.

And although the colors, material and scheme all match, the undamaged graphics will have a different level of fading and wear than new ones, further contributing to the mismatch dilemma. It is best to take care to maintain your entire booth, or you may find yourself forced to replace many of its parts.

Never forget that the state of your display booth represents your brand. As with your logo, staffers, and ability to communicate with attendees, your trade show exhibit is going to give a heavy psychological association (sometimes unfairly) with your company’s service.

A prospective client is going to have a hard time looking past your flimsy, wrinkled booth and still purchase with confidence. The mental perception unfortunately becomes “if they don’t care about how they look in front of hundreds of people, how are they going to treat me?”

Regularly practice these expert tips to properly caring for and maintaining your trade show booth and you can ensure it lasts your company for many years (and shows) to come.

Have questions about how to best care for your trade show display? Our exhibit experts are always happy to discuss options and recommend the best display for your company’s needs.

The Monster Displays team can be reached at Sales@MonsterDisplays.com or call (888) 484-3344, we’d love to put our experience to work for you.

Go-To Guide to Trade Show Preparation

The days and even months of trade show preparation leading up to a convention can be very stressful for your team, especially if you are a first timer. Experience is often the only way to know what prep time is required, how else can you prepare for hidden expenses such as electricity or internet access.

Many learn these lessons the hard way through expensive trial and error as their small business grows from a small table top display to a full fledged interactive display booth. Preparation and planning are crucial to help you avoid unexpected costs and hopefully a few grey hairs!

The deciding difference is often having the forethought to create a dashboard of your strategy – give yourself that 10,000 foot aerial view of all the moving pieces (figuratively and literally) that must come together so your team can hit the floor and begin rubbing elbows with your future clientele.

Sure – you could spend the week before your exhibition date barking orders at your marketing team and frantically hoping everything will come together despite the confusion, but let’s do our best to make that your last resort. The ideal strategy is to begin planning at least a couple months in advance to avoid this sort of mad dash. Getting started early allows you have the luxury of being frugal because you have the time to hunt around. You will want to be able to compare pricing on your trade show display, and spend adequate time refining your search for the perfect booth setup.

Step and Repeat Event Banner Back Wall

Pair multiple Retractable Banners into a Promotional Event Back Wall

There are many, many booth configuration options available depending on what size space you’ve purchased. Within that space your display’s style could range from a single retractable banner stand to the popular pop ups and modular types. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination (and budget of course) so identify what added island elements will bring your booth together best, like counter-tops or literature stands. Recommendations like creative use of a podium wrapped graphic for added brand exposure can help you be the one making your booth neighbors jealous.

Begin reading below and see how well your trade show preparation checklist holds up.

1. Trade Show Budget

With all the modular possibilities like interactive flat screen digital signage and countless accessory options, no one can blame you for chasing that bright, shiny object until you’ve built yourself the most awe-inspiring trade show display in the whole exhibition – and indeed succeeded in going way over budget in the process. It is true that careful and savvy budgeting can get you a display that really WOW your attendees, but if you aren’t able to convert enough leads to sales then your company may still be in the red. To avoid this, get started by factoring in all your known convention expenses and forming a budget. This begins to give you an idea of what your marketing department can afford and how much your team needs to accomplish to make up a return on your investment (ROI). In the end, your exhibition display exists to expand your brand awareness and turn interested parties into happy customers.

2. Convention Location

Most industries have a few iconic trade show venues that are held annually. You might want to attend all of them, but many costs such as the price of booth space and fees like electrical usage will always be there, even if you can save money by using an existing display. To avoid burning through your marketing budget without seeing results, identify which venues are going to give you the most value. How do you know if you will make your money back from attending a convention? This is largely an inherent risk, however we again urge you to plan far in advance. By taking the time to identify which of your direct competitors are possibly sponsoring an event and learning as much about which companies from your prospective customer base will be attending a show is going to give you a big boost to reliably gauging ROI expectations.

3. Achievements

By learning the landscape of the trade show venues you want to attend and setting a well-informed budget, you can more accurately set a big goal to achieve. Your goal is going to measure success, so making sure it isn’t pointlessly low or ridiculously high is going to depend on how carefully you examined your budget and exhibition venue. Signing on new customers to make your money back is usually the goal that comes to mind – however the indirect benefits a strong trade show presence often can’t be qualified easily with dollars and cents.

4. Measuring Success

Brand exposure or new product awareness can be a big part of the value of attending a convention and the relationships you form there may not blossom into actual sales until months later. Whatever goals fit your company best, shaping your marketing strategy around these goals is key to your success. Hopefully the months leading up to your exhibition have given you ample time to prepare and set achievable goals. Set realistic milestones you believe your team can accomplish and let your research support your decisions to other departments (especially accounting). When trade show day comes, the professionalism and knowledge base of your team can impact whether you have a good exhibition or a great one – but knowing the difference depends on well informed planning.

5. Brand and Marketing Material

Your branding may just look like pretty colors and a clever logo, but a strong brand identity is one that has been carefully crafted to have a unique, psychological association with your products and company persona. Whether you want to show people you are playful, traditional or the apex of professionalism, it all starts with your branding. It is important to think ahead and collaborate between your sales and marketing department to make projections on how well known your brand will be at the convention and ultimately how to portray yourselves. Much of being the part is looking the part, so when choosing a trade show display you will want to focus your budget on building a presence that reinforces what you want to communicate. Once you have a strong message, backed by attention-grabbing visuals you want to make sure it gets in front of your prospective clients. This is where your takeaways like branded gifts and brochure literature can be a vital tool to reminding someone why they liked meeting with you even months after an event.

HaagenDazs Booth Promotion

Team members and branding create your identity

6. The Booth Team

While we’re on the subject on perceptions, remember that a great looking trade show display that effectively communicates your brand identity and value proposition to your prospects is only half the task at hand. This is where an unqualified choice of Sales Representatives manning your booth can make or break your entire exhibition. Once your marketing material does its job generating interest in your product and the questions start coming in, it is your booth staff that will be responsible for bringing that sale in. It doesn’t hurt to hold a workshop in your office to refresh your team on frequently asked questions; responses to interested trade show attendees should be well practiced and conversationally driven.  Even considerations that should be assumed like professional dress and maintaining a friendly, orderly demeanor shouldn’t be overlooked. Expectations of  your booth staff should be discussed, after all these are the people that are representing your company!

7. Capturing Leads

With all the rushing to prepare for your exhibition, it’s easy to lose sight of the core purpose of being there – lead generation. As with all things, have a strategy before and after the event that lets your team hit the ground running. It doesn’t hurt to jot down notes and distinguishing details to remind you of who you spoke while you have downtime in between conversations, it becomes much more difficult to recall these points in the days after. You may find yourself with a big pile of business cards and barely a clue which card matches which conversation. Organizing by alphabet along with short identifiers can help remind you of the who’s-who that you want to follow up with first. This is what all that research, budgeting and review has been building toward, so be ready to begin capitalizing on all those fresh leads you’ve brought back.

8. The Wrap Up

It isn’t always easy or glamorous, but once it is all in the past you should review how well your team did.  This means taking the goals you set and taking a hard look at the metrics to see if you came out on top.  That includes measuring estimated goals against actual achievement. Were you forced to exceed your initial budget? Did you find yourself unprepared for an aspect of the event? This return on investment analysis should help you determine which convention venues to attend in the future. Carry everything you have learned from your mistakes onto your next show and build upon your successes. Now make sure your team is following up on those new leads!

 

Experience will prove what techniques for trade show preparation allow your team to capitalize the most. These are just the basics to remember that we have learned from years of trade show attendance and consultation.

If you have any questions on how to find the perfect convention booth for your brand and budget, give us a call at 888-484-3344 or email, we are always happy to help!

12 Best Cities for Trade Show Promotion

12 Best Cities for your Trade Show

12 Best Cities For Your Trade Show

Trade shows are one of the most effective ways to generate leads and introduce your product or company to a wider audience.  Attending a trade show can provide a huge boost to your company’s sales and revenue; attending a show also gives you an opportunity to talk to other people in your industry and find out where they get their news and tips, how they market their brand, and what other shows or mediums they use to reach their audience.

However, if your company is just starting out or on a limited budget, you have to pick carefully when deciding where to attend trade shows.  Here are some of the top cities in the United States to host or attend a trade show in.

 1. Las Vegas

Las Vegas has established itself as a top destination for trade shows.  In 2010, 2011, and 2012, Las Vegas had more shows on Trade Show News Network’s Top 250 trade show list than any other city in the United States.  For those same three years, Las Vegas hosted the largest trade show – as measured by square footage – in the country.  So what makes the city such an appealing setting?  Las Vegas consistently draws high attendance primarily because it is a more appealing vacation destination than many other cities that routinely top the trade show lists.  Besides offering attendants the opportunity to mix business and pleasure, Las Vegas is an affordable choice; the city is cheaper to fly into and stay in than many other comparable cities are.  The city is also easily accessible for people who are traveling from other countries.  Finally, Las Vegas has an infrastructure that was built to support tourism and large gatherings.  The city has a history of success with trade shows and can easily meet the demands of a large number of visitors.

 2. Chicago

For the last three years, Chicago has hosted the third most shows on TSNN’s Top 250 list. The city is home to McCormick Place, which is the largest convention center in the country with 2.6 million square feet of exhibit hall space.  In 2012, this venue hosted the second largest trade show in the country.  Chicago provides plenty of conveniences for trade show attendees.  The city is centrally located, so it provides a good meeting point for people from all around the country.  Chicago has two airports, and both are situated close to downtown. Chicago has been named one of the top ten “walking cities” in America and has excellent public transportation.  It offers plenty of tourist attractions, and the city regularly draws millions of tourists for conventions and festivals, so it is equipped to support an influx of visitors.

3. Orlando

For the last three years, this city has ranked second on TSNN’s list for number of trade shows held.  One of Orlando’s main selling points is its ability to offer plenty of space in its venues. Rosen Shingle Creek Hotelboasts 445,000 square feet of exhibition space; the Orlando World Center Marriott conference center hotel weighs in with 400,000 square feet; and the Peabody Orlando hotel rounds out the group with 350,000 square feet.  Orlando also is home to several smaller LEED-certified centers.  And, let’s face it, Orlando isn’t exactly an uninviting city to visit, with nearby attractions like Universal Studios and Kennedy Space Center.

 4. Indianapolis

Indianapolis is the twelfth largest city in the United States, and offers visitors a variety of recreational opportunities.  The city is also able to offer trade show attendees a great venue with many conveniences.  The Indiana Convention Center, which is connected with Lucas Oil Stadium – the setting of Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 – is one of the largest convention centers in the country after a recent expansion.  Besides its size, the center offers visitors many benefits.  It is situated downtown with easy access to restaurants, clubs, sports venues, and numerous other attractions.  Skywalks link the center to nearby hotels for easy access.

 5. Denver

Denver is a leader in snow sport trade shows like SIA, but the city is also gaining traction as a trade show destination, and is beginning to appeal to other industries.  If you’re concerned with supporting green technology and responsible practices, the Colorado Convention Center was the first meeting facility in the world to receive a Level One certification for the American Society of Testing & Materials sustainability standard.  Denver also offers a beautiful backdrop and a diverse range of recreational offerings for visitors.

6. New Orleans

New Orleans is an appealing city for shows being held in the winter months, so long as you schedule around events like Mardi Gras and annual festivals.  As with cities like Las Vegas and Chicago, you can rest assured that New Orleans has the infrastructure to accommodate a large number of visitors, and there’s little need to worry about people hesitating to attend because they don’t see the appeal of the city.

 7. San Francisco

San Francisco offers a number of convention and trade centers that have received accolades, including Moscone Center, Mission Bay Conference Center, and South San Francisco Bay Convention Center.  Attending a trade show here is a smart choice if you’re looking to do business with Silicon Valley start-ups as well as large corporations from the area.

 8. New York City

New York City’s appeal almost goes without saying.  Besides its attractiveness as a tourist destination, the city offers a variety of venues for all kinds of conventions; making travel arrangements is convenient, whether attendants are from the United States or other countries; and New York City has the infrastructure to handle any size of trade show.

 9. Anaheim

With more than 1.6 million square feet of exhibit space, the Anaheim Convention Center is the West Coast’s largest convention center, offering a great location for any size trade show. Nearby attractions like Disneyland also make the city an easy sell.

 10. Atlanta

Atlanta enjoys a strong trade show and convention business; it has consistently ranked in TSNN’s top five for the last few years.  As the largest city in the southeastern United States, and as the city that headquarters Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola and UPS, Atlanta is an influential city that has grown as both a tourist and trade show destination in recent years.

 11. Boston

Boston is home to the biggest exhibition center in the Northeast, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which offers more than 500,000 square feet of exhibition space.  The city consistently makes the top five list for cities hosting the most large trade shows, and it offers visitors plenty of historic and cultural sites to explore during their downtime.

 12. San Diego

San Diego is an appealing destination year-round, and it offers top-quality meeting facilities. The San Diego Convention Center has received numerous awards and recognition over the last decade, including the Facilities & Destinations Prime Site Award and the Southern California Meetings + Events Best Convention Center award.

Of course, when you’re deciding what shows to attend, you also need to do some research into the shows themselves – see what patterns attendance has followed over the last few years, who typically attends, and so on.  However, these twelve cities are a great starting point when you’re trying to decide where to look for your next trade show.

Top Reasons Trade Shows are Great for Promoting Your Product

Whether you have a big business or a small one, it takes a lot of effort to give your business a real presence. It is vital that you exploit all possible chances for you to showcase your product to the public. One of the best ways to do that is to participate in marketing trade shows.

What is a Trade Show?

A trade show is a marketing strategy wherein different companies can demonstrate and showcase their products and services. It is also commonly called a trade exhibit or a trade fair. Some shows are open to the public while some are only exclusive to people from the press or representatives from the prospective client companies. This is also an avenue for business owners to get to know their competitors who are also exhibiting their own product or service.

There are a lot of advantages to showcasing your product in trade shows.  Let’s take a look at the different factors that lead up to a successful trade show.

1. Shipping

Trade shows can be expensive to put up especially if they are located in a different state or country. If you are planning to showcase a new product line, then you may have to spend a great deal on shipping. It also depends on the size and quantity of the product.

2. Rent

Some trade shows are free while some require you to pay a fee for setting up your booth. The fee covers rent or the space that you are using which means the bigger the space the more expensive it is. The construction and design of the booth could be covered by you or by the organizer depending on your agreement

3. Travel or Airfare

As employers, you need to shoulder the airfare expenses of the people that you are sending to man your booth.

4. Accommodation

Aside from airfare and shipping you would also have to consider travel accommodation which also comprises food and lodging. You have the option to include the food budget in the hotel or provide them a per diem allowance. Shows typically last three days to a week and can even go as long as a month.

5. Promotional Materials

You need to have promotional materials such as flyers and handouts ready when participants visit your booth. This is also another cost that you should be ready for. These can be done weeks before the actual show to promote the event or during the event itself.

Some exhibitors conduct press conferences prior to the event, which would require additional time for preparation and cost too. If you are not launching the next gadget that could potentially beat the latest smart phone then consider skipping on this.

6. Telecommunication Services

Since there is a lot of traveling and moving of materials involved it is essential for each person involved to have a cellphone or laptop. This depends on how big the event is and on the needs of your event. You can opt to provide a mobile phone for each employee or provide them a cell phone allowance.

7. Booth Maintenance

As exhibitors, it is important for your booth to look presentable at all times. You can arrange this with the organizer if they have cleaners who clean up every day or if this has to be shouldered by you. Aside from cleanliness you also need to decorate your booth for it to look appealing. You have the option to hire or to do it yourself.

8. Electricity

Electricity cost is usually included in the registration or rent fee. The cost of electricity is usually stipulated in the contract and as to who shoulders it.

9. Internet

Internet may or may not be included in the trade show package. Shows that are held in hotels or convention centers usually have WiFi. It all depends on the product that you are advertising. If you are advertising a website, a mobile device or any technical gadget then you might want to consider getting Internet.

10. Competition

As the saying “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer” goes then so should you. If you are a small company, it is best to get to know who your competitors are. If you are competing with a world known brand, then think again if it is wise to join the said trade exhibit. Do your research ahead of time. If you want to stand out, then make sure that you have something that the other company or companies do not have. You wouldn’t want to put all your time, money and effort to waste, would you?

11. Time

Setting up a trade shows requires a lot of time both before and during the actual show. You need to have a clear timeline of events for everything to go smoothly. Create a giant chart or a calendar of activities to monitor all the things that need to be taken care of. The length of preparing for trades show also depends on how long the actual trade show is. If you are a very detail oriented person, then planning a week long show might take two weeks to a month.

Create a team specifically geared to ensure the success of your participation in the show. Assign a point person for each task. This should be done a month ahead or three to six months ahead if you are planning to join a worldwide trade show. Conduct a meeting every month and then make it every week when you already have a month left till’ the big event.

12. Logistics

This involves the flow of resources from one point to another. As exhibitors, one must be mindful on how the goods are transferred this includes packaging, inventory handling and transportation of goods.

13. Get to know your target market

Aside from the length of the actual show you also have to consider your target market. If you are dealing with professionals you might have to load up on research and training your staff before the actual event.

14. Manpower

Gather manpower that you need for the event. For large events, you might have to hire temporary manpower to man the booths. Of course, you can’t just hire them the day before and then send them out to battle. You have to hire them a week, a month or months before depending on how complicated your product or service is. Usually for new product launches, it is advisable to have tenured employees man the booth. Those who have experience. The temporary hires that you have can act as ushers or those who can give out flyers at the entrance to lure them into the show. You also have to make sure that these people are equipped to answer general questions about your product or service.

15. Guest List

Ask for the guest and media list prior to the event. Check if the people or companies in the list can be considered your potential client.

16. Organizer Agreement or meeting

Ask for other inclusions that you can get from the show. Set a meeting with the organizer prior to signing up and check what’s in it for you after the show. Maybe they offer extended services such as exposure on their website or free advertising on any of their marketing medium.

17. Advertising

Aside from checking on what you can get after the show, also inquire about how the organizers plan to advertise the trade show. Will they be advertising it online, on the newspaper, on TV or on the radio? Knowing the medium that they will use will benefit you because if your product is catering to smart phone users then most likely they won’t check the local newspaper.

18. Media Coverage

Review media coverage prior to the date of the show. You have done that prior to signing up, it is also critical for you to review the coverage prior to the show itself. Contact advertising agencies that you can partner with. If you are launching a product that could interest people from all over the world, then consider conducting a press release. A press release will help you attract clients from all over the world and certainly increase your chances of success. Otherwise, if your product is not as big as a deal like the iPhone or Samsung 4 then don’t do it. The cost for conducting a press release would certainly be greater than the benefit.

19. Website or Blog

Create a website or blog that people could visit before and after the show. Make sure that this website is easy to update so it won’t put added stress on your part. Load the site with all the information needed to get to the event such as the official date and venue of the show. Show pictures, slide shows and previews of what’s in store for them. If it is a major show where buyers and clients from all over the world would flock over, then include travel information on your site. Make it as convenient as possible for your target market. Review the sites or advertising medium that you have chosen. Make sure the content of your write up is not giving too much away. Arouse curiosity among readers so they would really want to visit your booth at the show. In addition if the trade show will be in a different country or state, you could take advantage of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Those will spread like wild fire.

20. Research and Training

Be ready at all times to answer the questions that your potential clients might have because no matter how prepared you are and if you do not set a good impression then all your hard work might go down the drain.

Those are just few tips to get you started on your way to a successful trade show event.