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Show off your company: tips for a better trade show booth: what to know when you are an exhibitor.

Trade shows are big business, and big attractions. Most look forward to trade shows, as both attendees and exhibitors. When approached in the right manner, trade shows can help add an element of fun to business.

The booths themselves are the main attraction and everyone who has attended a trade show can probably think of one booth in particular that just seemed to stand out from the rest. Usually after one comes across such a great display, they decide to either upgrade their own company's trade show display, or maybe even delve into entering the realm of trade show exhibitors.

For those who have never put together a trade show display, get ready for some hard work. The booth is more than just a tabletop these days, and one needs to decide on things such as dimensions, portability, graphics, etc. Choices go beyond just deciding color.

THE IMPORTANCE

Booths themselves are important as they give attendees a first impression of the company. Trade shows themselves are super-sized events that attract thousands of attendees and exhibitors. That means that there is some tough competition in garnering attention. Shows themselves often resemble mazes, as the venues are so large and filled to capacity.

Most attendees are there to make new contacts and learn about what is new and important in their respective fields. Being an exhibitor is a form of mass marketing, as one event can reach thousands of potential customers, all in one shot. That makes the cost associated with being an exhibitor worthwhile to most.

Understanding that being an exhibitor involves more than just putting a banner up with your company name is a first step. The whole goal for attendees is to make new contacts, massage old ones and learn a thing or two in the interim.

THE BOOTH ITSELF

Long gone are the days where simple card tables or tables with a stack of business cards constitutes an acceptable display area.

With trade show booths, costs can be quite high. But, a good booth should be able to last a company through many a trade show, so it is important to buy a quality display so that one's investment lasts awhile.

Basic booths themselves can range in price from a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000. The higher-end models are elaborate setups that have more functions and features than the average office does. But, there are additional costs to consider as well.

Trade show displays go beyond the booths themselves. Many have found that adding on things such as sound systems, video, computers or laptops and enhanced graphic displays further add to the overall appeal and presence of their trade show display areas.

Most exhibitors try to create interactive displays that not only draw attendees in, but also educate them on the products and services they are offering.

HANDOUTS

Another cost associated with being an exhibitor are the handouts. These range from business cards and brochures to gifts and goodies.

A trade show is a great place to get your company's literature into the hands of people who have interest in what is it you offer. Making sure your brochures are up to date before a trade show comes up is a key element since you want to seize the opportunity by handing out the most current information you have on your company.

Regarding other handouts, the options are only limited by one's imagination, and their budget. Pens, pencils, golf tees, golf balls and highlighters are popular mainstays since they are relatively low in cost. But, some opt for higher-end offerings, such as clothing, calculators and binders.

PREPARATION IS KEY

Preparation going into a trade show as an exhibitor is crucial, from getting the display ready to making sure that all handouts are ready to go. But, there are also other planning functions that should be carried out as well.

It has been widely reported that the trade show business is a big one-big in that it generates more than $83 billion per year. That means that those who exhibit fare best by understanding just who their audience will be. This is important as it helps exhibitors modify their booths and spaces to reflect the interest of the show in question. Each trade show has its own theme and set of attendees. Though some exhibitors may display at various shows, those who have the trade show game down to a science understand that the slight nuances between shows does indeed make a difference.

For many, a trade show is the one place where a company has an opportunity to put a "name" to its face. It is also a place where both first and lasting impressions are made. Trade shows are a place for companies to interact, one on one, with customers of theirs that they may never truly get to meet and speak to outside of the trade show circuit.

A good display booth (space) is where a company not only conveys their offerings, but also conveys the total message of who they are as a whole.

Since the Internet has made the world a smaller place, and has made finding information easier than before, a trade show is more than just handing out company literature. Most trade show attendees have probably already found the basic information they want regarding your company and its offerings, so at a trade show they want to find out even more.

Making attendees feel as if their time spent at the trade show was worthwhile is a daunting task, but can be achieved through proper planning. One of the biggest things to keep in mind is proper and adequate manpower.

It may seem to be common sense, but too often exhibitors just do not have enough people manning their display areas and attendees seem to drift away after waiting around too long to speak to someone.

Though booths and displays these days are somewhat interactive, there still needs to be that human element attendees came for in the first place.

By keeping all of the basics in mind, one can turn a trade show into a success. Being proactive in preparing for the event is a crucial element, and one that will help set your space apart from the rest. Deciding which shows to exhibit at is based on budgets and locations. A good rule of thumb is to hone in on the trade shows that you would attend yourself; that is a good guide in helping you decide which ones are right up your professional alley.

All and all, trade shows can be beneficial to both exhibitors and attendees; it just takes a little planning and a little patience to get going in this realm. But once you master some of the intricacies, you will find that trade shows can easily benefit your company greatly.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Alaska Business Publishing Company, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Stong-Michas, Jennifer
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1U9AK
Date:Feb 1, 2006
Words:1137
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