424092840_fbb987f9c6 Photo Credit: Ben Jordan / FlickrCC[/caption]

What’s the trick to putting on a good trade show exhibit to attract attention and convert visitors to customers? It’s not enough to just show up, you need to use a few trade show best practices to ensure that your small business gets the most out of your investment. Here are some tips:

Stand Out

Sometimes this may mean signing up for trade shows that are not strictly related to your niche. Do you ever wonder why you see booths for cleaning supplies at craft or wedding trade shows? Because they stand out, rather than blending in with the crowd. Standing out can also mean making your booth different than the others or offering a promotion or giveaway that no one else is, anything you can do to attract positive attention will mean more potential sales for your small business.,

Avoid the Hype

Some trade show marketers tend to over hype their trade shows – which can turn off attendees. Looking at past shows can help you to get an idea of how the trade show is marketing, you may want to avoid any that go a bit too far with their marketing efforts.

Look for Quality

Find trade shows that do it right with tasteful marketing, nice venues, and good setups. Read any marketing material thoroughly to ensure that the trade show’s marketing plan meshes with your company’s values.

Avoid Unknowns

While big companies may have the budget to try out new trade shows, your small business is better sticking with tried and true shows, ones with a proven track record of attendance and results. Find shows that are well established and well known – not brand new and untested.

Find Support

Great trade shows know that the key to continued success is to keep their customers (you) happy and ensure that you too have a successful show. Ask the management team whether they have any resources you can use to ensure that you have a nice booth and applicable marketing so your booth is well attended.

Prepare your Staff

Even your best salespeople may be underprepared for the drastically different sales environment that exists at trade shows – they’ll have very little time to capture interest and turn lookers into leads. You can increase the success of your company’s trade show attendance by helping your salespeople develop the skills they need to convert trade show attendees into potential customers.

Schedule Follow-Ups

Another important trade show best practice - don’t wait a month or two to follow up on any trade show leads your sales team captured – do it within a week or two at the most. This may mean scheduling some extra time for your salespeople to follow up, but is well worth it.

Promote, Promote, Promote

Don’t depend solely on the trade show management team to promote your trade show ; on major trade show best practice is to get the word out too about the event. Prepare press releases for before and after the show, send out emails to your contact list, put together a promotion for people who stop by the booth (such as an entry into a draw or % off coupon). The more people who hear about the event directly influences how many people stop by your booth.