Ever notice how many ads you see on search engines for trade show consultants, assistants, coordinators, and staffers? The trade show industry is huge (pronounce that however you like), and each show requires extensive amounts of planning and coordination. For a “small fee” you as a business owner can hire a consultant to tell you how to get the most out of your trade show experience. But for just a few minutes of research, you can get all that information for free.
Every trade show consultant will tell you the same things: have an attractive, eye-catching booth; do pre-show marketing through social media; have energetic staffers at the booth; and plan ahead for follow-up. So if everyone is getting the same advice, how do you stand out?
First: be different. Forget the cheap giveaways and the “booth babes.” You want attention to be on your product or service and nothing else. If you want to attract people who will be loyal customers in the future, you have to offer something of substance, and if your product and company have integrity, that will draw the right people to your booth.
Booth design is crucial, and it can be difficult for a small business to create a booth that stands out but doesn’t cost a fortune. You can rent trade show booths, but if you’re going to be doing shows repeatedly, it’s more cost-effective to design your own booth and own it outright. A booth designer can help, but before you begin, we suggest starting with the floor. Many small businesses purchase large rolls of commercial carpet to haul to shows. It’s attractive, but commonplace. A really interesting way to set your booth apart is with lightweight, wood grain or solid color foam flooring. It’s even more comfortable than carpet and doesn’t way a million tons. Transporting it from show to show won’t break your back, and a single nasty spill on the foam floor doesn’t require professional cleaning or carpet replacement. It’s a unique and very attractive alternative to the hard concrete floor of the exhibition hall and very different from the standard booth commercial carpet.
What you put on top of it is up to your budget, needs, and technology. But it’s a great place to start.