Tips for first time exhibitors
Participating in an exhibition can take months of preparation so staying organized, when the time comes, is important if you want everything to go …
Being at a large exhibition can be quite overwhelming. The smell of coffee from booths, fresh paint from the exhibition displays and the sound of chatter and excitement really make it an experience you’re going to enjoy. If it’s your first trade show then you have quite a bit to catch up on.
Early Bird Offers – many organizers have special discounted rates for companies booking in advance. Try to plan your trade show presence well in advance so you can avail of these offers which include advertising, space booking, sponsorship and furniture rental.
Floor Plan – almost every exhibition will have a floor plan. This map shows which companies are exhibiting and where their booth will be. It also shows the size of each company’s booth as well restrooms, cafe’s, location of the press room, main entrances, press conference rooms and anything else that the organizers feel you might be looking for. A few months before the show, you might see this floor plan, completely blank, when you are choosing the location for your booth.
Sponsorship – trade show organizers usually have a list of sponsorship opportunities that exhibitors are eager to grab. These include banners, tote bags, lanyards, flags, hotel room keys, charging stations and so many other great things. Note that these opportunities are usually booked out months in advance. As soon as you decide you’re going to participate in a trade show, contact the show organizers to see what sponsorship opportunities are available. Don’t be shy to suggest something you think might look good – if it’s doable, they’ll be more than happy to accommodate your request.
Press Room – at any big trade show, key media personnel are swarming the floor hungry for news and interesting opportunities. The press usually has an area dedicated to them called a press room. This opens a day or two before the show and here you will find editors and other members of the media working on news for the show. You can pop in and let them know if you have news to announce, introduce yourself and drop off a press kit or press release. They all have cubby holes at the entrance that you can leave your PR material in. Most trade show organizers will have a list of media partners on their website so you can plan who are going to meet before attending the show and even contact them prior to the event. Dailies are magazines made for each day of the show, highlighting major news and events from the show and companies at the trade show. You can advertise in the dailies and contact press members to see if your news can be featured.
Collect Data – the members of your team present at the exhibition will most likely have planned their meetings prior to the show. However, you can be sure that you will have unexpected visitors. Don’t fret, a busy booth is a good booth! Welcome them with open arms and don’t forget to ask for a business card. Everyone visiting your booth should give you a business card which you can add to your database when you get back to the office. Use this data for mail blasts, newsletters and follow-up emails.
Giveaways – most companies have promotional items that are handed out to everyone visiting the booth and towards the end of the show, everyone walking by. Choose something fun, handy and interesting that stands out from the rest.
Costs you might not have heard of – drayage, electrical etc. – read our article about trade show budgets to get a better understanding of the kind of costs you might incur.
App – most trade shows have their own app, made by the show organizers. Here you can see a list of exhibitors, view exhibitor profiles, some even let you contact each other and arrange meetings and advertise your company for everyone to see. The app usually proves to be extremely useful and even guides you to different company booths so you’re not left running around the floor searching.
Press Conference Room – most exhibition halls have a few press conference rooms that you can book for a short time slot (typically 30 minutes – 1 hour). If you have big news and you want the media to know about it, send out a press release but also book a press room and send an invite to members of the press in advance. It’s a great time for them to ask questions, take pictures and then feature your news in the dailies. Press conferences are usually held one day before the show, when editors are finalising the news they want featured in the next day’s daily.
Speaker Opportunities – the opening ceremonies or seminars at big trade shows typically feature experts in the field, most of whom are employees of companies exhibiting at the show. This is absolutely brilliant for exposure and needless to say, gets booked out very quickly! Again, as soon as you decide you’re going to participate at a trade show, contact the organizers to see what speaker opportunities are available and see if anyone in your company would be a good fit. This is free of cost.