When it comes to real, face to face events, exhibitions and trade shows are still performing well, but it is still important to ensure that you have a good plan and execute it well to see a real return on your investment. While some companies benefit from exhibitions and trade show, there are others that wonder if investing their time, energy and money was worth it. With a good plan, your exhibition efforts can give you the buzz and results you are looking for. Here’s how:

1. Plan in advance

Companies either register too far in advance for an exhibition, then forget about it, or register at the last minute. To do trade shows well, being planning in advance, but the planning process should be more than just booking flights and hotel rooms for your staff. The planning process should be strategic, with pre, during and post show all thought through and connected to a strategy that is tied in with your companies goals and objectives.


2. Be a speaker

It’s great to have a stand, but if you want to take it to the next level, be a speaker. If you talk about your area of expertise to a targeted audience, you create credibility. Its a great opportunity to give your staff something to talk to visitors about as well and promote happenings at your stand. After the exhibition, you can nurture prospects and leads by providing the presentation content to them. You will have to submit a proposal for being a speaker long in advance, as most exhibitions have a process dedicated to finding them.

3. Determine your goals in advance

What is the purpose of the exhibition and what do you want to accomplish by being there?  Your goal may be to generate a buzz, brand awareness, launch a new product, generate leads or perhaps a combination of all these objectives. Determine in advance what you are trying to achieve, because absolutely everything you do related to the exhibition should be tied back into accomplishing your objectives.


4. Spread the word

Start generating a buzz before an event. Post on social media, publish a press release online about what your company will feature at the show, or even host a webinar as a countdown to the show. Talk about sessions to attend, speakers not to miss, what you’re featuring at the show and any other important event information. Don’t forget to personally invite prospects and give them a good reason to turn up to your session or stand. Schedule appointments in advance with hot leads, face to face meetings are a great way to build relationships.


5. Design your display to make an impact

In crowded aisles with a sea of displays, you have a matter of seconds to attract a passerby into your stand. Create a good visual impact with simple messaging that instantly tells your audience who you are and what you do. Make sure your branding is consistent with all your marketing materials for a pulled together, professional look.

6. Make your space inviting

Know the setup of your stand in advance, where it is in the room, access to lighting or power and ceiling height. Placing a table across the front of your space can be uninviting. Create a space that people feel comfortable entering by creating different stations when people can learn about your company, products and services.


7. Work out an engagement plan

Staff your exhibition stand with enthusiastic employees that will connect with visitors and implement the strategy you determined before the show began. Sitting in chairs, working on laptops, scanning emails on tablets or phones sends a negative message to passersby. The primary focus of your staff should be working the stand.


Consider something else to attract an audience and create a buzz. Contests, giveaways and promotions can help you achieve your exhibition goals. There’s more to it than just giveaways though, you need an action plan for generating conversations, pinpointing leads and capturing contact details.


8. Post-event follow-up

The exhibition is over, but you still have more to do. Follow up with attendees that gave you their contact information. Send them an email thanking them for stopping to see you, and offer them a download of your presentation. You can gauge the level of interest by the unsubscribes from that first email, and you will know who was just interested in your company, and who just wanted the giveaway. For the remaining contacts, keep the buzz going by creating post-show content on your blog and social media outlets. Don’t forget to measure the results of the show, according to the goals you originally set.


8. Show Post-mortem

It’s a good idea meet with your team for a post show debrief so that you can go over what worked (and what didn’t). A good post-show debrief will help you pinpoint lessons learned and actions you need to take to improve the success of the next show.

You don’t need to have the largest, fanciest display, massive giveaways to achieve exhibition success. Any company on any budget can achieve trade show success if they create a strategy, implement it and follow through.