As with most tasks worth accomplishing, making your trade show exhibition booth a success starts with careful planning and preparation. This is a long and involved process, and one that should begin as far in advance as possible—a year or more is ideal. Your trade show success is dependent upon many factors, including your goals, your marketing approach, your overall level of preparedness, and, most crucially, your exhibition booth design. To help ensure a triumphant appearance at any upcoming trade shows on your event calendar, consider the following:
Successful Exhibition Booths Produce Solid ROI
One must-have for all exhibition booths is a measurable return-on-investment (ROI). The greater the ROI, the more successful the booth. Figuring out if you’re getting your money’s worth starts with setting concrete and well-defined goals: What do you want to accomplish at an event, and how will you measure your success? Maybe you want to sign new customers onsite, or maybe you want to collect strong sales leads. Perhaps you’re hoping to debut a new product in front of a large and enthusiastic audience, or maybe you’re aiming to generate valuable brand exposure through press coverage or social media buzz. Whatever your goals, you need to set them upfront and formulate a plan to achieve them for the best shot at success.
Calculating your ROI comes down to a simple formula: Subtract your expenses from your revenue, divide that number by your expenses, and multiply by 100 to express your ROI as a percentage. Expenses in this case will include such costs as space rental, registration, booth construction, installation, teardown, storage, marketing, giveaways, transportation, hotels, and any other costs associated with the show. If you’re planning on booking a special guest speaker or hiring freelancers to staff your booth, make sure you’ve included their fees in your calculations.
Revenue can be more complicated to calculate, as it can represent more than just dollars earned from sales resulting from the show. For instance, if your show goal is increased awareness of your brand or product, you’ll need to determine in advance how much that will be worth in terms of marketing value, then use that figure as your revenue.
Pick the Right Show
On the surface, picking the right show at which to exhibit may seem straightforward and obvious. If your business manufactures or distributes medical equipment, you’ll want to exhibit at a trade show for medical equipment—not one geared toward, say, the automotive industry. However, there are a few variables to consider when choosing a trade show that will set you up for success.
Once again, your show goals play a key role: If your goals involve brand exposure or generating social media hype, you’re going to want to exhibit at a show aimed at consumers, whereas if your goals are centered around contracts or partnerships with other businesses, you should pick a show geared toward businesses. When you’re trying to decide whether a particular trade show is a good fit for your brand or product and your goals, do as much research in advance as possible. Contact the show organizers for lists of past exhibitors and demographic information about their attendees. If your target customer base is unlikely to attend the show, you should probably consider skipping it as well.
Market Your Exhibition Booth Presence
To get the full benefit of the time, effort, and expense that goes into your trade show presence, market your exhibition booth before, during, and after the show. Send personalized invitations to prospective clients and customers. Schedule onsite meetings in advance. Start hyping your upcoming appearance long before the show opens. If you’re going to introduce new products or services or feature a special celebrity appearance, make sure your pre-show marketing includes all the details. Use direct mail, email, and social media marketing to let everyone know where you’ll be exhibiting—and why they should attend. Keep that promotional mode going during the show by announcing upcoming booth events, appearances, giveaways, demonstrations, and presentations. After the show, follow up on all the leads you’ve collected and make a social media splash with photos and video from the event.
Special Considerations for Successful Exhibition Booths
Once you have your goals in mind, make sure every aspect of your exhibit is purposefully designed to help you accomplish them. Once again, planning is crucial: The day of the show is likely to be chaotic, so make sure you’ve thought through every aspect of your exhibit and your show appearance well in advance to make the most of the experience.
Presentations and Demonstrations
If you’re exhibiting technical or complex products or services, you’ll need to snag the undivided attention of visitors to your booth for as long as it takes to watch a presentation video or see a product demonstration. For presentations, you’ll want dedicated space, possibly with seating, with clear sightlines from your audience to in-booth screens. Similarly, effective product demonstrations will require enough space to show off your wares. If demonstrations are crucial to your trade show goals, consider including enough room in your exhibit to stage more than one demonstration at a time. Your booth should be designed around your goals—not the other way around. One thing to keep in mind is that live pitches work. Live presentations and demonstrations dramatically increase your brand awareness and can quadruple the number of qualified leads gained from your show appearance. Build that direct connection with your audience, then reap the rewards of a successful exhibit.
Exhibition Booth Team
Your team is an integral part of exhibition booth success. To a person, they should be trained to confidently guide visitors to your booth and answer in-depth questions about your company and its products and services. A uniform dress code including name tags and easily identifiable branding, such as matching shirts emblazoned with your company’s logo, will help attendees spot your team members—and help teammates locate each other when assistance is needed. Trade shows can be exhausting, so keep your booth team fed, hydrated, and happy. You want the face of your brand to make a positive impression: professional, knowledgeable, and engaging.
If you’ve ever tried to secure a meeting room during a trade show, you know it can be challenging, if not impossible. In-venue meeting rooms are usually booked well in advance, so take care of that element as early as possible. Your best option may be to include private or semi-private meeting areas as part of your booth design, which will allow you to sign contracts on the spot. A well-designed semi-private room can give your booth an extra dose of visual interest by adding a great “What is that?” element, drawing in curious passersby.
Make sure you have a simple, accurate, and reliable way to gather visitor information during the show. These leads represent future clients or customers, so treat them well. If you’re still having visitors fill out contact forms by hand, consider the advantages of the digital age: Multiple apps now exist to help you electronically collect information by scanning and storing convention badges and business cards. Just remember to keep close tabs on the contacts you collect: Losing a tablet or notebook—and losing all those valuable leads—is a sour note on which to end a show.
Choose the Right Custom Display
All the research and planning in the world isn’t going to do you much good without the right display. A successful exhibition booth is one that’s custom-tailored to your brand or product and your show goals. Making an accurate and positive impression on prospective customers is going to be the key to your success, and that’s impossible to do with an exhibit that blends in with all the other displays on the trade show floor or, worse, looks shabby or unprofessional.
Designing and fabricating a trade show exhibit is both an art and a science. Even if you’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by skilled builders and graphic design experts, you may find the particular demands of booth design to be outside the realm of experience of your in-house team. Partnering with a professional and experienced exhibit design company is the best way to ensure that your display will make the right impression on trade show attendees—and will put you a gigantic step closer toward a successful show appearance.
ProExhibits has helped the world’s biggest brands connect with trade show audiences for more than 30 years. Our skilled and experienced artisans can work with you to design and fabricate a display that will help you achieve your trade show goals. We’ll make sure every element of your booth helps you reach your audience and make a great impression. Contact us today.