If you, like most businesses, are trying to find effective, budget-friendly ways to reach your customer face-to-face, you might find yourself at a tradeshow or other event. Seems simple, right? Show up with a handful of business cards and rake in the leads. Or is it really that simple?
Appearing at a tradeshow underprepared can not only be a waste of your investment, but it can also leave a bad impression with the attendees of the show—and for some of those attendees, that might be their first and only exposure to your business. So before the event is upon you and it's time to set up your booth or table, it's important to consider all the "body parts" of your event presence.
- Signage – Your signage will be first thing attendees see, so professional, attractive signs are a must. Signage can be anything from standing easels, signs and banners to your entire booth backdrop. Be sure your signage clearly communicates who you are and what your brand identity is; if space allows, you can also use signage to differentiate yourself and your message.
- Business cards and printed materials – Your signage might be the one thing that most attendees see, but what will they take away once they stop? Business cards, flyers and other printed materials are an excellent way for truly interested prospects to take your information and peruse it later. Your branded printed materials should match your branded signage, creating a cohesive, easily recalled impression for your visitor long after they've left the event.
- Giveaways – There's a reason many tradeshows give attendees a bag at the door. It's for all the goodies and giveaways companies will have at their booth. Think they don't matter? Think again. According to the Advertising Specialty Institute, the average American consumer owns approximately 10 logoed/promotional items, and each item can generate thousands of impressions over its lifespan—which can be up to more than a year, depending on what the item is.
- Staff – So you've shown up, you have great signage, thorough information and good giveaways. That's enough, right? Wrong. You need to staff your booth, and it's important that whoever is staffing your booth is not only professional and knowledgeable about your business, but proactive and ready to talk to prospects rather than waiting for prospects to come to them. Be sure to provide your staff with information about the event and attendees and encourage them to stand in the booth rather than sitting and to be mindful to maintain open, friendly body language.
- Furniture – While some events might dictate what furniture (table, chairs, etc.) you have have in your booth, it's important to find out early what your parameters and guidelines are and customize as much as you can within those guidelines. You want people to stop at your booth, and you want people to stay at your booth. Creating a comfortable, welcoming environment can not only draw in visitors, it can also represent your business on a miniature scale.
- The finishing touches – Finally, consider the finishing touches. Plants, décor and accessories, product displays or even the candy dish (everyone needs that sugar boost to make it through the day!) are all the small touches that take your booth from perfunctory to polished and that can help leave the perfect impression on your prospects.
Pictured below: Staples Business Advantage trade show booths