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Tricks of the Trade Show

Tricks of the Trade Show

With the new year, many Mercer County businesses have resolved to develop new relationships and connections which can help them grow. Trade Shows and Business Expos can be exceptionally effective, but only if you prepare. John Odalen, owner of Lawrenceville-based Organize and Maintain, suggests the following checklist:

  • Define your purpose for attending: Who do you want to meet and why? What is your business objective?
  • Practice your elevator pitch when meeting new people. What about yourself do you want to convey?
  • Review the list of vendors who will also be attending. Identify and prioritize which booths you want to visit.
  • Bring business cards, pens and a notebook. You’ll be meeting many people. Take notes and plan your follow-up steps.
  • Dress appropriately. Is it all-business? Business casual? (And wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking or standing all day.)
  • Identify what should be provided by the trade show vendor:
    • Table and chairs
    • Tent or partitions
    • Electric outlets
    • Wired network access or wireless access
  • Make lists of what you need to bring
    • Products and Giveaways
    • Decorations (table cloths, signs, balloons)
    • Marketing materials (business cards, brochures)
    • Electronic Devices (laptops, tablets, phones)
    • Portable charger for your devices (in case no power)
    • Extension cords, power strips and long network cable
    • Don’t rely on having internet access. Keep all materials on your laptop or tablet too.
  • How will you collect visitors contact info?
    • Business cards?
    • Signup sheet?
    • E-scanners?
  • Review the event documentation
    • How close is parking? Will you need a cart?
    • Will expo staff help you unload?
    • What time can you setup?
    • Rules: What you can/cannot present. Decorations?
    • Ask expected attendance (to estimate # of giveaways)
    • If flying, are you packing or shipping out ahead?
    • Who is contact for receiving shipments?
  • Record trade show contact numbers in phone AND on paper (in case of a problem at the event).
  • Know your floor location in advance. Will people be near your booth for speaker events, food or restrooms?
    • If you are off the beaten path, will there be signage?
  • If event is outside, have clips to secure table cloths, or paperweights to hold down flyers. Sunscreen?
  • Talk to those who attended this event in the past. Ask how well was it organized.
  • Arrive early. Don’t assume everything will be perfect. Budget time for the unexpected.
  • Plan your follow up campaign BEFORE the event, so you can execute once you return home.
  • Contact all connections made.

Learn more about John Odalen at Coming March 2016: “Real Value: New Ways to Think About Your Time, Your Space & Your Stuff