The Art of Trade Shows – Making the Most of Your Booth or Display
The first thing people will notice about your business through the hustle and bustle of a busy trade show is your display. Creating a successful, attractive display can be more time consuming than you might imagine, but achieving the desired results can be well worth the effort put forth. Remember that you want to stand out from the crowd, without stomping all over it. Reaching that special balance of attracting attention without attracting the wrong kind of attention is a notable accomplishment, and one which many presenters never consider.
For many visitors, this booth may be their first exposure to your business. Since you obviously want to make their experience a positive one, take the time beforehand to put real thought and consideration into the setup and design of your booth, and any displays you may have set up. Think about what kind of impression you want to make on people, and plan your set up accordingly. Do you want to come across as the clean, polished professional? Or perhaps the down-to-Earth neighbor next door? A large part of this decision will be determined by the type of business or product you are promoting. White collar expos and professional conventions may encourage more of the former, while a local home show with lots of small businesses may benefit better from the latter. Take this into consideration ahead of time and be prepared to conduct yourself accordingly.
Also, think about what kind of resources you have available. As a small or start up business, you may not have the means to create an elaborate display with interactive technology and a pile of free samples. If your financial means dictate that your display be more humble, be willing to go the extra mile and turn a potential client’s visit in a real, personal interaction. A booth does not necessarily have to be flashy and fancy to draw a crowd. Enthusiastic and judicial use of the resources available can make a very good impression in spite of your meek beginnings.
In many instances, businesses make too much of their available resources and go a little too far with decorations and swag. While it always helps to have promotional items to give away or raffle off, you don’t want people visiting your booth simply for the free stuff. At the end of the day you’ll be out of swag and nobody will give your business a thought beyond, “Where’s that coozie I got at that trade show?” Remember that in some cases, less is more and moderation is always key. Demonstrating that you have the dedication and know-how expected of a true professional is the most important thing to communicate with your presentation. Getting wrapped up in the decorations and posters and give-aways can cause clients to lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish. No matter how fancy your booths and displays are, make sure the people manning them are the center of attention.
I like that you mentioned choosing how you want to come across to new customers. My wife has a small business and we used to set up at trade shows all the time. We would always try to go for a home-like feel to our booth because that’s one of the big things in her business.