©2018 Guest post from Shem Szot

Everyone knows that tradeshows are an excellent chance to spread the word about your business. A physical presence and personal engagement can often leave deeper impressions than online interaction alone. And joining a tradeshow means you don’t have to worry about bringing in the clients yourself - after all, the clients are coming to you at a tradeshow, right?

Wrong. Just having a presence at a tradeshow event isn’t enough. Tradeshows are increasingly competitive, and your booth will be surrounded by an entire room filled with others jostling for attention. In order to make the most out of your tradeshow spend, you need to create an experience for the consumer that draws them in and keeps their attention.

Try these 6 tips to maximize the potential of your booth and make the impact your business deserves.

Customize your Booth

Your booth is your calling card. How it looks is key in getting noticed by your target market. According to Tradeshow News Network, 81% of tradeshow attendees have buying power. So knowing who comprises your target market and building a booth that will draw their attention is crucial.

What is your target audience interested in? What hobbies do they have? What do they enjoy looking at? The answers to these questions will help drive how you present your booth, and what colors and displays you create. Ensure your booth is aesthetically pleasing - it can mean the difference between someone passing by and stopping to engage with your brand. Your branding should be consistent, concrete and is visible from all directions.

Pay attention to the lighting of your booth. Even with the most impressive booth will not be seen without proper lighting. Great lighting not only makes everything look better, it also makes you look more serious.

Use floor decals to easily stand out. You can have footsteps leading to your booth, or a great floor decal of your brand’s logo. Imagination and knowing your audience is key, but floor decals can also work wonders if this is allowed by show organizers.

Hire the Right Brand Ambassadors

The people who man your booth are your front line for the day. It is critical to have staff in the booth who are friendly, outgoing and have clear goals and proper coaching on engaging your audiences. Too frequently you see booths with staff who are not engaging and not actively reaching out to the audience.

Choose people who are adept at casual conversation, who are well-spoken and are well-groomed. If no one on your staff is the right match for your display, consider hiring a professional from an agency. After you’ve chosen who will represent you, ensure they have what they need to do the job. Provide them with crisp, clean, branded clothing to wear. Prepare any necessary information and prep them properly on your business. Give them time to absorb and memorize the materials you provide them with ahead of the tradeshow. Don’t leave it until the last minute.

Offer Engaging Giveaways
We have employed this strategy in our own booth and it works wonders. If you have an engaging giveaway (we obviously use stickers), we end up seeing people who come back for more, sometimes even bringing friends. An example of an engaging giveaway is our “Can’t we just get oolong” sticker which we gave away at tea shows. It’s obviously a play on “oolong tea” and “can’t we all just get along”, but people love it and they keep coming back. Other engaging giveaways could include exclusive discounts, special offers or branded swag. Make sure your offers are visible, either in decals on booth walls, or by brand ambassadors actively handing them out. When you have an engaging giveaway, people will remember your brand for a longer time, and are more likely to become lifelong customers.

Get Social

Emphasize your physical presence at the tradeshow with online support. Social media can maximize your presence, as attendees will likely be hashtagging and geotagging posts, especially on platforms like Instagram. Engage with attendees online by liking and commenting on posts, and use the relevant hashtags and locations in your own posts to your online community to keep them update on the event. Invite people to your booth across your social media channels, or offer special prizes and rewards to your network.

Move Beyond the Booth
Your booth isn’t the only space in which to engage with people at the tradeshow. Have brand ambassadors walk around the show, handing out business cards and samples and talking with people about your brand to extend your reach at the tradeshow. The networking possibilities are truly endless if you step beyond the booth.

Follow Up
You’ve had a great day at the tradeshow. Your brand ambassadors engaged with a large group of potential clients, and your booth stood out and attracted a lot of interest. Instead of resting on your laurels, now is the time for action. Attendees will have visited many booths and spoken to many brand ambassadors. What will define you as one to remember is the follow up.

Keep potential clients engaged with your brand with a post-show follow up email thanking them for stopping by your booth, and reminding them of your services. If you have an email newsletter, offer them the option to join, or give them a heads up about any upcoming offers, deals or specials that you have in your business calendar.

Shem Szot is current VP of Marketing, Sales and E-commerce at the Toronto-based StickerYou.com, where he has helped to drive triple-digit revenue growth since his arrival in mid-2015. Shem was a past partner in the email marketing startup EmailTrack.com, with B2B and B2C experience in small companies, as well as Hewlett Packard, where he most recently led the E-Business, E-Commerce organization for L.A. and Canada.

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